Introduction: Demonstrating Dehydration Using Sugar (Sugar Snake)

Sugar (a carbohydrate) is dehydrated with concentrated sulfuric acid. Since a carbohydrate was once considered just hydrated carbon, if you remove the water, carbon would be left over. The acid rips the water out of the sugar and the heat generated by this reaction causes the water to turn to steam. A black mass of carbon is produced.

1. Place the sugar into the beaker 2.
2. Add the sulphuric acid to the beaker
3. Stir it briefly.
4. Wash the carbon column in excess water to dilute and wash away the acid.

The sucrose turns yellow and then red brown. After about one and a half minute the mixture changes color to black and a spongy mass of carbon grows well above the top of the cylinder. The formation of a carbon column is accompanied by the release of heat and evolution of vapor.


blackdogg (author)2010-03-14

If that would not be that hot, you could hold it behind you and people infront of you would think you make a poopoo^^

timmy1234s (author)2008-08-30

Technically, i think if it is carbon 60 or something, its radioactive. Also know as the buckyball. (author)timmy1234s2009-10-26

Its the number of neutrons in the atom (isotope) that makes somthing radioactive, not the number of atoms in a molecule (allotrope)
C60 is Buckminster fullerine though :D ("buck ball")
so unless you use C16 or somthing of the like this wouldnt be radioactive.

minerug (author)2009-10-12

What concentration of acid did you use 

antienoob (author)2009-07-29

question-were would one get sulphuric acid (cose i dont have a science lab and i live in australia so i dont have all the types of shops u have in the U.S.).

Bright Shadow (author)2008-01-31

soo, basicly, this is a mecanical butt-hole
Mike Rowe, 2007

close, chemical butt-hole. and i must ask, what does it smell like? because from the looks of it...

Matt21497 (author)technodude922009-07-05

smells like roasted marshmellows

It's steaming!

Muzhik (author)2009-07-02

After rinsing off the carbon, how pure is the result? Could the result be used as "activated charcoal" in a filter?

Matt21497 (author)Muzhik2009-07-05

No. They sell these as fireworks ( wouldnt call them firworks) and when you burn them what is left is either super light weigh or ash

rgallazzi (author)2009-05-13

I have tried this experiment several times. I never get a reaction. I put a small beaker of sugar and add 12 molar sulfuric acid... i get nothing...

sallost (author)rgallazzi2009-05-23

which sugar did you use ? We always use powder sugar

rgallazzi (author)sallost2009-05-27

I found out the problem. Apparently the 12 molar was not 12 molar sulfuric acid. Once I got a fresh batch it reacted quickly with just regular table sugar. I tried one with a little water added and then one with dry sugar. The one with water added produced a tar-like carbon which made clean up more difficult. If you use dry sugar then when the beaker is cooled it is very easy to remove the carbon and clean the glass. BTW... YES these fumes ARE nasty. They smell terrible. I suggest doing this under a fume hood.

2243amle (author)2008-08-27

hey r those fumes toxic

sonaps (author)2243amle2009-01-07

It's steam man, so not unless you're allergic to hot water.

2243amle (author)sonaps2009-01-08

cool, thanks

craig3 (author)2008-07-06

what happens after its finished? can you take it out of the beaker and keep if as a memento for the day you made crap in school? hang it up on a wall or a nice little ornament in the bathroom

FunkNattidelic (author)2008-03-01

is it seriously pure carbon left over? if so, couldnt you make Super-Carbon steel if you mix a tonne of that stuff into melted steel?

Derin (author)FunkNattidelic2008-06-20

not sure i think you forgot the sulfuric acid(dont take my word do your own research)

GanngBanger 832 (author)2008-02-22

nice but it looks like a burnt cheese doodle

cotton (author)2008-02-15

wow it beat snake caps

CoolKoon (author)2008-02-04

Hey! The Metacafe video is not working!

moep (author)2008-02-02

lol. reminds me of that episode in southpark where they get the massive snake

Shifrin (author)2008-01-27

If that turned brown, I would *hit myself :-)

grenades_and_ham (author)2008-01-27

nothing against you but i cant help but recognize how the snake resembles crap idk why this fascinates me but it does. but our teacher did this in ap chem, it was pretty neat

GorillazMiko (author)2008-01-25


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