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A huge ‘cotton candy’, the pressure from the kids’ chemistry and lab

A screen shot from a demonstration of “elephant toothpaste” chemistry experiment, which was posted by Twitter user @semestasains.
(screenshot of Twitter user @semestasains)

The instructor, and their two children, pour three cups of the powder into a tray of red liquid. Suddenly — poof — in a cloud of what looks like cotton candy and will explode in the direction of the ceiling.

The most popular video in social media is derived from the Malay language, the account of w, that shares the science content. However, what is going on in the video?

It is a very dangerous version of a classic chemistry demonstration, according to Brian Hostetler, an educator at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. The reaction is commonly known as the “elephant’s toothpaste” because of the frothy appearance, and it is often used in chemistry classrooms to explain to the catalysts, Hostetler, told Live Science. [Elementary, My Dear: 8 Little-Known Elements)

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A simple but potentially explosive

The reaction allows the use of inexpensive, readily available ingredients: hydrogen peroxide, hydrogen peroxide, dish soap, potassium iodide and dye. Hydrogen peroxide is the key. It is composed of two hydrogen and two oxygen molecules. The relationship between these molecules is, of course, break down, and so after a period of time, the hydrogen peroxide slowly to water and oxygen gas. This reaction happens more quickly when it is exposed to light, Hostetler said, ” and that is the reason why hydrogen peroxide is sold in brown bottles.

Typically, the slow decomposition (or analysis, in chemistry terms and conditions) of hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen, it is invisible. However, the elephant toothpaste experiment that will speed up the process by using as a catalyst a chemical substance that increases the rate of a reaction. Potassium iodide, a salt of iodine, and it is a nutritional supplement that has been used to add iodine to table salt — provides the catalyst.

“In the presence of potassium iodide, hydrogen peroxide, hydrogen peroxide, decomposes almost immediately,” Hostetler said.

It is easy to install. Hydrogen peroxide is mixed with washing up liquid and a dye is often added for dramatic effect (that’s why a cotton candy pink in the Twitter video. The potassium iodide is added, and the iodide ion that is a part of that connection that draws in the oxygen in the hydrogen peroxide, the breaking of the bond, and the transformation of hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen. The oxygen molecules can become entangled through the holes, and the formation of vesicles (blisters), Hostetler said. In one step, sometimes it is added on to the elephant’s toothpaste demonstration with a glowing splint, a strip of wood, which is warm, but not burning — which is to be inserted into the bubbles to be caught in the fire, fanned by the pure air.

Toning down

Typically, Hostetler said, the elephant toothpaste experiment, and creates an oozy concoction. So, why is the Twitter version, please send the bubbles flying in the direction of the ceiling?

That particular response was due to the strength of the ingredients, as well as the shape of the container, Hostetler said. A reasonably secure version of the elephant toothpaste demonstration, it can be done at home with 3% hydrogen peroxide bought at the pharmacy, using yeast as a catalyst (the yeast contains the enzyme catalase, which also breaks the bonds in the hydrogen peroxide. The combo will drop down and be a little bit warm, and if the reaction releases heat, but other than that, the need to take care not to touch the “tooth paste”, such as hydrogen peroxide, hydrogen peroxide can be irritating to the skin and eyes, this is a DIY version that is quite safe and secure.

In the Twitter video, it is likely that the reaction with 30% hydrogen peroxide, hydrogen peroxide, or, more importantly, Hostetler said. The demonstrator also allows for the use of potassium iodide in powder form rather than mixed with water. And he poured it in three batches at the same time, in a large container with lots of surface area, so that the reaction occurs with a large amount of hydrogen peroxide all at once.

That’s what makes the scene in the movie “super-duper dangerous,” Hostetler said. Thirty percent or more of hydrogen peroxide can cause chemical burns on the skin, ” he said, and the reaction heat of the solution is due to the hundreds of degrees celsius. It’s been the heat and steam from the reaction, which pushes a portion of the foam skyward at the Twitter video.

The bottom line is, Hostetler said, ” it is not, try the jumbo version of the demo at home, but you can feel free to press the “play” back on Everyone.

“It’s a cool video,” he said.

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Originally published on Live Science.

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