Classic guide provides intriguing entertainment while elucidating sound scientific principles, with more than 100 unusual stunts: cold fire, dust explosions, a nylon rope trick, a disappearing beaker, much more.
Read an Excerpt
By Leonard A. Ford
Dover Publications, Inc.Copyright © 1993 E. Winston Grundmeier
All rights reserved.
Two 200 ml. beakers are standing on the table. You pick them up, pour a clear liquid from one beaker into the other, which is one-third full of a white powder. Stir well with a stirring rod for a few seconds and then place the beaker on the table. When you place a white cardboard behind the beaker, the material begins to darken and gives off fumes. In a few minutes a black solid will rise several inches above the beaker.
About 10 ml. of concentrated sulfuric acid in the first beaker; powdered sugar in the second; stirring rod.
Black carbon remains when the sulfuric acid removes the elements hydrogen and oxygen from sugar. Gases formed cause the material to rise or foam.
For an instantaneous reaction, try the following experiment. From two 200 ml. beakers, pour two liquids simultaneously into an empty 400 ml. beaker. One contains 50 ml. concentrated sulfuric acid; the other is a concentrated sugar solution made by dissolving 130 grams of sugar in 100 ml. of water. Immediate reaction with considerable frothing occurs when the liquids come in contact. A large plate should be under the beaker to catch the overflow.
Both methods are satisfactory. The first one, however, produces sulfur dioxide fumes that are somewhat suffocating in a small room. The formation of black carbon gives the demonstration a special appeal.
CAUTION: Handle sulfuric acid with great care.
Into a small evaporating dish is placed some yellow powder and a few drops of liquid. Oh slowly heating this mixture a "snake" suddenly leaps out of the dish in a cloud of smoke.
Three grams para nitroacetanilide; small evaporating dish; one ml. concentrated sulfuric acid.
Dehydration is demonstrated. Gas and carbon are formed in the chemical action.
After placing the para nitroacetanilide in the evaporating dish, you add the acid. On heating for two or three minutes, a reaction suddenly occurs and the "snake," which may be over a foot long and several inches in diameter, darts upward.
Suggestions and CAUTION:
The "snake" is composed of carbon. Gases generated in the reaction escape. Some sulfur dioxide gas is formed. Considerable smoke rises to the ceiling at the moment of reaction. This resembles the dome-shaped cloud formed at the explosion of the atomic bomb. The smoke and gas formed in this reaction are irritating to the eyes and lungs. The experiment should therefore be performed shortly before spectators leave the room. In a large room with a high ceiling the fumes and smoke produce little or no irritation.CHAPTER 2
II. COLOR CHANGES; INVISIBLE INKS
You hold a clear card in one hand and proceed to draw a bloody picture with a finger of your other hand.
Five grams potassium thiocyanate; five grams ferric chloride.
Add a few ml. of water to each salt to make saturated solutions. The card is covered with the strong potassium thiocyanate solution. The finger has been dipped in ferric chloride solution.
Ferric ion reacts with thiocyanate ion to give the red color. This is a sensitive test for the ferric ion.
You pick up a dagger and thrust it over the back of your hand. You appear to draw blood. The dagger has been dipped in the potassium thiocyanate solution and the back of the hand coated with ferric chloride solution.
Jug of Mystery
Water is poured from a jug into a series of six empty water glasses. The glasses become filled with liquids colored: (1) red, (2) white, (3) blue, (4) black, (5) green, (6) amber.
In the jug, five grams of ferric ammonium sulfate in 500 ml. of water; in each of the glasses, about half a gram of the following solids dissolved in a few ml. of water: (1) potassium thiocyanate, (2) barium chloride, (3) potassium ferrocyanide, (4) tannic acid, (5) tartaric acid, (6) sodium hydrogen sulfite.
1. Thiocyanate ion forms a deep red color with iron (III).
2. Barium ion forms a white cloudy precipitate with sulfate ion.
3. Ferrocyanide ion forms a deep blue compound with iron (III).
4. Tannic acid forms a black complex with iron (III).
5. Tartaric acid forms a greenish complex with iron (III).
6. Hydrogen sulfite ion forms an amber product with iron (III).
Good lighting helps to make this foolproof experiment effective chemical magic. Use a decorative-appearing jug. Be sure to use the ferric compound, not the ferrous, in the jug. For patriotic colors, use only the first three glasses.
Hot and Cold Colors
A pink liquid in a liter beaker stands on the demonstration desk. You heat the liquid and the color fades. On cooling the color returns.
A drop of concentrated ammonia in 500 ml. beaker of water to which has been added a few drops of phenolphthalein.
A shift of the equilibrium between ionized ammonium hydroxide to un-ionized ammonia takes place on heating. This change causes loss in color.
If you wish to speed up the demonstration use a large test tube which can be heated quickly in a flame and then cooled under the tap.
If the color does not disappear on heating, you likely have too much ammonia in the solution.
You place a blank card over a flame. Black letters slowly appear.
A blank card about 6 × 10 inches made of heavy paper; concentrated sulfuric acid.
Illustrates the dehydrating action of sulfuric acid.
Before the demonstration you will write something on the card. The ink used will be concentrated sulfuric acid and the pen will be a small glass rod.
Heating the card slowly over the flame will tend to concentrate the acid, remove the elements of water from the paper and leave charred carbon at the points of contact.
Should you wish to use this experiment at the beginning of a series of demonstrations you may write the word "Welcome" on the card. At the end of a series of demonstrations you may bring your work to a close with the words "That's all" or a similar notation.
Be careful when working with concentrated sulfuric acid.
Two conical piles of white powder of about five grams each are standing on sheets of white paper. To one side is a large cylindrical white box with a cover. You place both powders in the box and shake. Asking the spectators about the color of the powder in the box, you open it. The color is yellow.
Five grams powdered lead nitrate; 5 grams powdered potassium iodide; white box.
Yellow lead iodide is formed by double displacement.
Grind the chemicals separately in a mortar until they are very finely divided. The box must be vibrated very rapidly in the shaking process to get sufficient contact between the chemicals.
Dropped into a tall cylinder of water the mixed powders give a beautiful yellow colored suspension of lead iodide.
A pink liquid in a beaker is standing on the demonstration desk. The color changes to a distinct blue and then back to pink. These changes are repeated continuously.
Three grams cobaltous chloride hydrate dissolved in 500 ml. of alcohol.
The color change is probably due to the shift in the amount of water attached to the ions of cobalt. When warm, the water leaves the ions to be absorbed by the alcohol. Cooling causes a reversal of the process. These changes continue as long as the solution is alternately heated and cooled.
The beaker containing the pink liquid stands on a small hot plate. When the current is on, heat will cause the solution to change from pink to blue. Switching off the current causes a reversal in the color change. A strong light behind the beaker will help to accentuate the color change.
To make the solution quite sensitive to temperature changes heat it slightly above room temperature. Then add water dropwise until it is pink. The solution will now remain pink at room temperature.
A cardboard stands on the demonstration table. It is painted with three colorless solutions. Colors formed will be red, blue and black.
The cardboard has been rubbed with dry ferric chloride. Solutions are potassium thiocyanate, potassium ferrocyanide and tannic acid.
A painting of a winter scene is shown to the audience. When warmed above a burner, white snow becomes green.
The snow has been painted with cobalt chloride, which becomes bluish-green on warming. You can tell the audience that you are changing the seasons. On painting the blue-green color with water, a pink color returns to the snow.
Write on a colorless coarse-grained paper with a paint brush dipped in water and the painting is black.
The paper has been rubbed with equal parts of dry tannic acid and ferric ammonium sulfate.
Write on a colorless coarse-grained paper with a paint brush dipped in water and the painting is red.
The paper has been rubbed with equal parts of dry sodium salicylate and ferric ammonium sulfate.
Write on a colorless coarse-grained paper with a paint brush dipped in water and the painting is blue.
The paper has been rubbed with equal parts of dry sodium ferrocyanide and ferric ammonium sulfate.
Using an atomizer, spray a white cardboard with ferric chloride solution. The American flag with all its colors will appear.
An outline of the flag had previously been made with a lead pencil. The stripes had been painted with potassium thiocyanate, the stars with potassium ferrocyanide and the staff with tannic acid solution.
Water from a decorative opaque jug is poured into a series of seven glasses with many peculiar color changes.
Jug; seven empty water glasses; five grams tannic acid, a few ml. each of saturated solutions of ferric chloride, oxalic acid, concentrated ammonia and concentrated sulfuric acid.
Black "ink" results from complex formed of tannic acid and ferric ion (glasses 2 and 4). In glass 5, the oxalic acid forms a nearly colorless complex with iron (III) by displacement of tannic acid.
In glass 6, ammonia displaces tannic acid-ferric complex to form a yellowish complex.
In glass 7, sulfuric acid destroys this complex to yield a nearly colorless iron (III) ion (hydrated).
Line up the empty glasses in a row on the demonstration table. Into the jug place the tannic acid. Stirring well, fill the jug with distilled water.
Glasses 1 and 3 are left empty.
Glasses 2 and 4 contain five drops of saturated ferric chloride solution.
Glass 5 contains 15 drops of oxalic acid.
Glass 6 contains 10 drops of ammonia.
Glass 7 contains 5 drops of sulfuric acid.
You are now ready for the performance. You pour water from the jug into the first glass — there is no color change — water appears present.
When the liquid is poured from the jug into the second glass, ink appears to pour out.
Poured into the third glass, water appears to pour out.
Poured into the fourth, ink again appears to come out.
You now pour the liquid from all four glasses into the jug.
When poured into glass 1, ink appears to come out.
Poured into number 2, ink also appears to come out.
Poured into number 5, water appears to form.
Poured into number 6, wine appears to form.
When all are poured into the jug, a jugful of wine appears to form.
The wine poured into number 7 appears to form water.
From a bottle you pour a liquid into each of three beakers standing on a demonstration table. You produce the colors red, white and blue.
Solution of alcohol containing phenolphthalein in the first beaker; concentrated lead nitrate in the second beaker; and concentrated copper sulfate in the third beaker. The bottle contains dilute ammonium hydroxide.
The action of ammonium hydroxide with the reagents in the beakers produces color changes. In the first beaker, the color change is due to an indicator. Double displacement occurs in the second and a complex ion is formed in the third.
A few drops of reagent in each beaker is sufficient. The intensity of the color depends on the number of drops of reagent used.
The demonstration has good audience response. It is quite foolproof, and effective with good lighting.
Red and Blue Cloth
You take a piece of moistened cloth in the hand and dip it into a solution in a beaker. The cloth becomes bright red. Dip into a second beaker and the cloth becomes bright blue.
Twenty grams ferric chloride; five grams potassium thiocyanate; ten grams potassium ferrocyanide.
Two sensitive tests for the ferric ion are demonstrated.
Prepare the three solutions needed for the demonstration by placing each of the chemicals in a separate 400 ml. beaker. Then dissolve the chemicals by adding 100 ml. of water to each. You are now ready to proceed with the demonstration.
Before the performance you moisten the cloth with ferric chloride solution. When you dip the cloth into the potassium thiocyanate solution, the cloth turns red; when you dip it into the potassium ferrocyanide solution it becomes a dark blue.
The ferric chloride solution poured into the potassium thiocyanate solution turns it a bright red and, when poured into the potassium ferrocyanide solution, dark blue.
Water to Wine to Coffee
On the demonstration table is a beaker of water. You stir the water vigorously with a glass tube and wine is formed. You place the rod on the table. You now decide to change the wine to coffee. Again you pick up the tube and stir. The wine changes to coffee.
Few crystals of potassium permanganate; tannic acid with volume about the size of a small pea; six inches of glass tubing sealed in the middle.
Water, which becomes wine colored with potassium permanganate, becomes coffee colored in contact with tannic acid.
Previous to the performance you place a crystal or two of potassium permanganate in one end of the tube and tannic acid in the other. Stirring rapidly in the beaker causes the potassium permanganate to dissolve giving the wine color. After placing the tube on the table you stir with the other end causing the tannic acid to react with the permanganate solution giving a coffee color.
Failure of the experiment may be due to using too large a quantity of the chemicals.
Whiskey to Water
A whiskey bottle almost full of whiskey stands on the demonstration table. You pick it up, give it a quick shake and the color disappears. The whiskey seems to have changed to water.
A large highly decorated whiskey bottle with screw cap; 0.5 gram finely powdered sodium thiosulfate; tincture of iodine.
Oxidation of sodium thiosulfate by iodine results in a colorless solution.
Add water to the bottle. Into this pour a few drops of tincture of iodine to give it the whiskey color.
The powder is suspended directly below the screw cap of the whiskey bottle. This permits rapid mixing. A satisfactory arrangement can be made from a small sheet of metal and a stiff wire. Shape the metal sheet into a container about 15 mm. long, 5 mm. high and 5 mm. wide. Push the wire through this little metallic cup and then through the cap in such a way that the powder will be suspended about one inch below the base of the cap. Labels over the neck of the bottle will conceal the thiosulfate container.
Powder sodium thiosulfate in a mortar. The powdered salt reacts more quickly than the crystalline form.
Wine to Water to Milk
You hold up a wine bottle. It is half filled with a liquid that looks like wine. From a Florence flask you pour an invisible material into the wine bottle and wine appears to change to water. The colorless solution is then poured into a milk bottle and this bottle becomes filled with a liquid that appears to be milk.
Wine bottle, milk bottle, 500 ml. Florence flask, five grams sodium sulfite, dilute sulfuric acid, few crystals of potassium permanganate, three grams barium chloride.
Wine-colored potassium permanganate oxidizes sulfur dioxide gas with the formation of sulfate ions in a colorless solution. When poured into the milk bottle the colorless solution forms white insoluble barium sulfate which gives it the appearance of milk.
Fill the Florence flask with sulfur dioxide. You can generate the gas by the action of a few mls. of dilute acid on the sodium sulfite. Use a large test tube with rubber stopper and delivery tube. Collect the gas by downward displacement. Test with moistened litmus to determine if the flask is filled with gas.
The wine bottle contains 2 ml. of sulfuric acid, a few crystals of potassium permanganate dissolved in water.
The milk bottle contains the barium chloride in a few mls. of distilled water. Add enough water to make a saturated solution.
Suggestions and CAUTION:
Keep the face well away from suffocating fumes of sulfur dioxide. Use a little potassium permanganate to give the wine color. The gas can decolorize only a limited amount.
Water to Milk to Water
Three quart milk bottles are standing on the table. The first appears to be half full of water. The others appear to be empty.
You pour the water from the first into the second, changing the water to milk, and the milk formed in the second is poured into the third bottle. Milk formed in the second appears to change to water in the third.
Excerpted from CHEMICAL MAGIC by Leonard A. Ford. Copyright © 1993 E. Winston Grundmeier. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of ContentsIntroduction
"Motion, Sound and Color"
II. Color Changes; Invisible Inks
Jug of Mystery
Hot and Cold Colors
Red and Blue Cloth
Water to Wine to Coffee
Whiskey to Water
Wine to Water to Milk
Water to Milk to Water
III. Gas Liberation; Bubbling
Educated Moth Balls
IV. Air Pressure
Blowing Through Glass
Egg in a Bottle
Oxygen in Air
Upside-Down Water Glass
V. Boiling Liquids and Vaporization
Boiling Water in Paper
VI. Fires and Combustion
Burning Sugar Lump
Glowing Steel Ball
Eating a Candle
Fire in the Water
Test Tube Fire
Smoke Screens and Explosions
Nitrogen Triiodide Explosions
VIII. Crystallization and Precipitation
Freezing Without Cooling
IX. Freezing and Gel Formation
X. Smoke and Vapors
Smoke Blown Through Glass
XI. Specific Gravity
Nylon Rope Trick
XIII. Delayed or Consecutive Reactions
Oscillating Clock Reaction
Glass Dissolves in Water