Make a Test Tube Thunderstorm!

Uploaded by NurdRage on 20.08.2009

Greetings fellow nerds.
In this video, we're going to make a thunderstorm in a test tube,
or at least a bad copy of one.
The procedure is dangerous,
but deceptively simple.
Just get a tube of 95% alcohol.
I found the more expensive pure alcohol actually doesn't
work as well as this cheap 95% stuff.
Now, with a pipette,
carefully inject a layer of concentrated sulfuric acid
into the bottom of the tube.
Do not let the layers mix or this won't work.
Now drop in a pinch of potassium permanganate,
and turn out the lights.
It takes a minute or so to start up,
but eventually the manganese heptoxide formed
from the reaction of the permanganate and sulfuric acid
reacts with alcohol and explodes,
producing a bright flash.
The camera doesn't pick it up,
but there is actually a popping sound with the flash.
This reaction will work with all alcohols.
And here is an example of it working with acetone as well.
Wait for it...
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To deactivate the chemicals, submerge the tube in water,
but be aware it might still be explosive before it completely dissolves.
Wear face shields and full safety gear while doing this
and do not handle the tube by hand, but use metal tongs.