Chemical fire from potassium chlorate, sugar and sulfuric acid

Light a fire without matches and lighters, use only chemistry!

Scientific name: Ignition of paper due to the reaction between potassium chlorate and sugar activated by sulfuric acid

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Safety

Be careful with concentrated sulfuric acid and use protective goggles. It is a very rough, hot and loud reaction. Keep a safe distance. Be careful and keep calm! There is a fire risk - a fire extinguisher should be ready.

Always follow general safety recommendations. Please note that conducting chemistry experiments you must comply with the relevant legal procedures in your country.

Reaction formula

8KClO3 + C12H22O11 -[H2SO4]→ 8KCl + 12CO2 + 11H2O

Step-by-step instruction

WARNING! This experiment is dangerous! You should NOT perform this at home. ONLY carry out this experiment, if you are a trained chemist, and you understand local safety and legal requirements, which are required to perform such experiments

  1. Take a small amount of potassium chlorate and grind it in the ceramic pounder. You should use clean and dry instruments.
  2. Take a small amount of sugar or glucose and grind it in the other ceramic pounder. Use 2 different pounders! Or you can take powdered sugar or starch from your kitchen.
  3. Mix potassium chlorate and sugar in ratio 1:1.
  4. Put the mixture on the refractory plate and form a pile with a pit from it.
  5. Take a glass rod and touch the concentrated solution of sulfuric acid with the end of the rod. Be careful with sulfuric acid!
  6. Touch the pit in the mixture with the end of the rod. Keep a safe distance! It is a very rough, hot and loud reaction. Be careful and keep calm!

Scientific background

Potassium chlorate is a very effective oxidizer. Sugar (or glucose) is a redusing agent in this experiment. Sulfuric acid is a catalyst of the interaction of potassium chlorate and a redusing agent:

8KClO3 + C12H22O11 -[H2SO4]→ 8KCl + 12CO2 + 11H2O

It is a very rough, loud and exothermic reaction.

Danger:
Coolness:
Difficulty:

Published on 26 March 2015

  • Fire
  • Heating with fire
  • Explosion
  • Poisoned gas
  • Organic
  • Electricity
  • Solution
  • Oxidation reduction
  • Color change
  • Precipitate
  • Gassing
  • Catalyst