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Does heating a sodium hydroxide solution create fumes? Answered

I want to do the chemistry trick where you turn pennies into a silver and gold color. I am looking to do this by heating a sodium hydroxide solution with zinc metal and then adding pennies. I just need to know if I can do this in my garage on my hotplate or if I should do it outside because of fumes.
Thanks :)


I've done this experiment first hand.
The only fumes it gives off is water vapor, and the experiment itself is pretty safe.
Make sure to wear safety goggles though!

Thanks. I have sodium hydroxide that is quite pure, would a solution of that by itself when heated create fumes?

Possibly, but you'll also have to be very careful of spits and spills of the liquid - "quite pure", hot sodium hydroxide solution will cause bad chemical burns.

Wear goggles, even if you're outside.

(When I said "unknown contaminants", though, I meant things like dirt on the coins.)

Something that small wouldn't hurt you unless its some uncommon toxin/bug that's reeeeally nasty, most metal-acid/base experiments like this will just irritate the respiratory tract for the most part.

However I must agree that this should only be done outside or under a fume hood and with standard protection and precautions.

A small splash of hot sodium hydroxide could cost you the sight in an eye.

If it's strong, then it could cost you the eyeball.

Of course, my comment was on the condition that the experimenter in question was smart and handled the chemicals with care.

Most of the things I do are with acids at room temp or warmed up just a bit and I'm fortunate to have a nice water supply nearby most of the time.

I think that you do better with acid.


I would do it outside because of potential bad smells from unknown contaminants, plus the hazard of spilled caustic chemicals (you can just hose spills down in the garden).