Instructables

Demonstrating Dehydration Using Sugar (Sugar Snake)

video 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.
blackdogg4 years ago
If that would not be that hot, you could hold it behind you and people infront of you would think you make a poopoo^^
timmy1234s6 years ago
Technically, i think if it is carbon 60 or something, its radioactive. Also know as the buckyball.
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.
minerug4 years ago
What concentration of acid did you use 
antienoob5 years ago
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.).
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...
smells like roasted marshmellows
It's steaming!
Muzhik5 years ago
After rinsing off the carbon, how pure is the result? Could the result be used as "activated charcoal" in a filter?
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
rgallazzi5 years ago
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...
which sugar did you use ? We always use powder sugar
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.
2243amle6 years ago
hey r those fumes toxic
sonaps 2243amle5 years ago
It's steam man, so not unless you're allergic to hot water.
2243amle sonaps5 years ago
cool, thanks
craig36 years ago
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
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?
not sure i think you forgot the sulfuric acid(dont take my word do your own research)
nice but it looks like a burnt cheese doodle
cotton6 years ago
wow it beat snake caps
CoolKoon6 years ago
Hey! The Metacafe video is not working!
moep6 years ago
lol. reminds me of that episode in southpark where they get the massive snake
Shifrin6 years ago
If that turned brown, I would *hit myself :-)
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
SHUGA SNAYKE!!! RUN!!! :P