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"Careful, It Might Explode" Chemical Reaction Experiment: Gummy vs Potassium Chlorate

"Stand Behind the Shield, We Only Have So Much Insurance"

By Christina PainoPublished 7 years ago 1 min read
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After the reaction. The black solid in the test tube is the remains of the gummy after being combined and reacting with the potassium chlorate.

A delicious gummy candy becomes nothing more than burned ash, isn't chemistry great?

Potassium chlorate is a polyatomic compound--it consists of a cation (the positive portion, the potassium) and the anion (the negative portion, the 'chlorate' or ClO3)

Due to the nature of the reaction we were attempting, safety is key. Knowledge is key in chemical reactions, but so is common sense. In this case, a 25 pound splash-shield is also a nice addition.

The potassium chlorate (KClO3) and the sugar in the gummy (C6H22O11) react together in two different chemical reactions, oxidation and thermodynamics.

Big words, right? At least I'm not talking about praseodymium (applaud the fact that I spelled that correctly FIRST TRY!!!)

This experiment is being performed by two grade ten students (partner and myself), for a science project.

I am the purple-haired freak in the video, while my partner is filming the reaction.


How did this happen?

Depends on how much lab jargon you want to read. In essence, the potassium chlorate is heated with the Bunsen Burner, to a liquid state, which decomposes it into potassium chloride and oxygen gas. As oxygen gas is flammable (pure oxygen, not the air!), the combination of the heat and decomposition and the gas gives a sufficient ignite to the gummy. The heat produced from the gummy continues to decompose the potassium chlorate, resulting in a very fast combustion of the gummy.

In non-lab talk, this is what happened:

Sorcery. The answer is sorcery.

Unfortunately, the simple sorcery result does not make an adequate scientific conclusion.

Don't try this at home, my science teacher was present at every moment of this experiment! Hazards of potassium chlorate include:

Flammable, strong oxidizer, can produce toxic fumes, toxic if ingested, potential chemical burns, test tube can possibly explode during reaction!

If you're looking for a more kid-friendly experiment, metallic flame tests are fun, the metallic compounds change the color of the flame.

Hope you enjoyed the video! Remember, if your teacher says "careful, it might explode" it's going to be an intense reaction.

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