1. Mercury thiocyanate decomposition
How it works: Burning mercury thiocyanate causes it to decompose into three other chemicals. The three other chemicals decompose again into another three chemicals, causing this terrifying creature thing to unfurl from all the expansion.
2. A match lighting
How it works: A matchhead contains red phosphorus, sulfur and potassium chlorate The heat generated from the phosphorus breaks down the potassium chlorate, and in the process, it releases oxygen. The oxygen combines with the sulfur, producing a short-lasting flame we use to light a candle or a cigarette.
3. Fire + hydrogen
How it works: Hydrogen gas is lighter than air and can be ignited with a flame or spark, resulting in a vivid explosion. This is why we’ve largely switched from hydrogen-powered blimps to helium ones.
5. Mercury + aluminum
How it works: Mercury penetrates the protective oxide (rust) layer of the aluminum, allowing it to rust much more rapidly. This is one of many reasons you should never bring mercury on an airplane.
6. Snake venom + blood
How it works: A single drop of viper venom dripped onto a petri dish of blood makes it clot into a thick chunk of solid matter. This is essentially what happens inside your body if you’re bitten by a poisonous snake, which is terrifying.
7. Iron + copper sulfate solution
How it works: The iron replaces the copper in the solution, turning copper sulfate into iron sulfate (FeSO4). Pure copper collects on the iron.
9. Chlorine tablet + rubbing alcohol in closed bottle
How it works: The reaction produces an expansive increase in pressure, eventually rupturing the container.
10. Burning magnesium + water
How it works: Magnesium metals are not affected by water at room temperature; it reacts with water vapor to make magnesium hydroxide and hydrogen gas. Magnesium fires cannot be extinguished by water and must be covered in sand to be put out.
11. Acetone + styrofoam
How it works: Styrofoam is made up of polystyrene foam which, when dissolved in acetone, releases the air in the foam, making it to look like you’re dissolving this massive quantity of material into a small volume of liquid.
12. Blood in hydrogen peroxide
How it works: An enzyme in blood called catalase turns the hydrogen peroxide into water (H2O) and oxygen gas (O2), creating a foam of oxygen bubbles.
13. Dry ice + dish soap
How it works: Instead of the dry ice just bubbling in the water to make a cloud, the soap in the water traps the carbon dioxide and water vapor in the form of a bubble.
14. Gallium in hot water
How it works: Gallium, used mostly in electronics has a melting point of 85 degrees Farenheit and will melt if held in your hand.
15. Slow motion transformation of beta tin into alpha modification
How it works: At cold temperature, the β allotrope of tin (silvery, metallic) spontaneously converts to the α allotrope (grey, powdery).
16. Sodium polyacrylate + water
How it works: Sodium polyacrylate, the same material found in a baby diaper, acts like a sponge and absorbs moisture. When mixed with water, the compound turns into a solid gel. Once the sodium polyacrylate forms a gel, the water is no longer liquid and can’t pour out.
17. A drop of soap added to milk containing food coloring
How it works: Milk is mostly water but it also contains vitamins, minerals, proteins, and tiny droplets of fat suspended in solution. Dish soap weakens the chemical bonds that hold the proteins and fats in solution. The fat molecules freak out as the soap molecules race around to join up with the fat molecules until the solution is evenly mixed.
18. Radon 220 gas squirted into a cloud chamber
How it works: The V-shaped trails are caused by two alpha particles (helium-4 nuclei) being emitted as radon decays to polonium and then lead.
19. A light bulb burning out
How it works: The tungsten filament breaks, shorting the electrical circuit that makes the filament glow.
20. Ferrofluid in a glass bottle
How it works: A ferrofluid is a liquid which becomes strongly magnetized in the presence of a magnetic field. They’re used in hard drives and in mechanical engineering.
21. Iodine + aluminum
How it works: Oxidation of finely dispersed aluminum occurs in water, forming a deep violet vapor.
22. “Elephant’s toothpaste”
How it works: Yeast and warm water are poured into a container of dish soap, hydrogen peroxide and food coloring. Yeast acts as a catalyst to remove oxygen from hydrogen peroxide very quickly, creating lots and lots of bubbles. The result is exothermic, creating foam AND heat.