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5 Awesome Hydrogen Explosions

Hydrogen is one of my favorite elements. It is the simplest of elements, having only one proton and one electron (in most cases) but what it lacks in mass it more than makes up for in shock and awe!

Hydrogen is highly attracted to many of the elements on the periodic table but one of its favorite elements to attach with is Oxygen. When Hydrogen gas and Oxygen gas combine, with the help of a little energy (flame or spark), the two elements rearrange themselves and combine in a synthesis combustion reaction - making Water (H2O). In each of the hydrogen explosion demonstrations in the video, the reaction is creating water and releasing heat and light as the water forms.

Hydrogen Combustion Reaction

The hydrogen combustion reaction (often referred to as "burning"), occurs when 2 molecules of Hydrogen gas (H2) reacts with 1 molecule of Oxygen gas (O2) to form 2 molecules of Water (H2O). This is the reaction that takes place inside a fuel cell:

2H2(g) + O2(g) → 2H2O(l)

Craig Beals hosts "The Science Spot" on Montana This Morning with Ed MacIntosh and Victoria Hill on KTVQ to start the morning with a Bang!

Instructions for each of the five Hydrogen explosions:

#1: Hydrogen Balloon Explosion

  • Fill up a balloon with hydrogen gas

  • Tie balloon down to keep from floating away

  • Tape candle to meter stick

  • Place candle near balloon

  • Eye and hearing protection are required

#2: Pringles Can Hydrogen Rocket

  • Tear fresh-seal off top of Pringles can

  • Poke a hold near Pringles man's eye, large enough to fit Hydrogen tube

  • Punch a hole in the metal bottom of the can, this will become the top

  • Invert Pringles can so metal portion with hole is facing up

  • Fill entire can with hydrogen gas, be sure to completely fill with hydrogen or it will blow up immediately

  • Place a rubber stopper (or anything heavy enough) over the hole on top to keep gas from escaping

  • Remove stopper, place lighter near hole on the top, stand back, enjoy

  • Eye and hearing protection are required

#3: Soda Bottle Hydrogen Rocket

  • Melt or poke a hole in the bottom of a soda bottle

  • Melt or poke a hold about 3 cm below where the curve at the top of the bottle (neck) starts

  • Set up ring stand and iron ring

  • Invert bottle upside down so neck is facing down, resting on top of the iron ring; this is your launch pad

  • Fill bottle with hydrogen gas, completely evacuating all air from inside

  • Place rubber stopper (or anything heavy enough) over the hole on top to keep gas from escaping

  • Light, stand back, salute as your bottle heads to the moon

  • Eye and hearing protection required

#4: Hydrogen Bubbles

  • Bubble solution recipe

  • 1 cup dishwashing soap (I prefer Dawn original)

  • 12 cups water

  • 3/4 Tablespoon glycerin (Glycerin [also known as Glycerol] is available at most drug stores)

  • Turn on gas (away from all flames)

  • Blow bubbles using a bubble wand

  • Set up a flame well above hydrogen gas

  • Let bubbles float up into flame

  • Watch, smile, enjoy the burning bubbles

  • Eye and hearing protection required

#5: Hydrogen Fireball in your Hand

  • Make hydrogen bubbles by placing gas tube in a beaker of bubble solution (see recipe above)

  • Get hands wet (this provides a barrier to the flame because water has high specific heat, meaning it does NOT like to change temperature easily - this heat buffer is only temporary and does not mean you will not get burned! But, as a chemistry teacher, I have done this demo countless times and have not had any problems - however, this is not an endorsement for you to try it!)

  • Scoop a handful of bubbles, hold at arms length and light

  • Eye and hearing protection required

Keep on Learning! ~Craig Beals

Beals Science - 5 Awesome Hydrogen Explosions


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