Chemical Mortar

The test tube shoots paper and black smoke

Scientific name: Oxidation of cellulose with products of potassium permanganate decomposition


Potassium permanganate + sulfuric acid + paper dipped in et

by M Leamon

Удивительный опыт - Химический миномет

Химический миномет


Wear eye protection goggles. Use gloves. Openong of the tube should be directed away from the experimenter and viewers

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

Reaction formula

2 KMnO4 + H2SO4 → 2 HMnO4 + Na2SO4

2 HMnO4 → H2O + Mn2O7

Mn2O7 → 2 MnO2 + 3 O

O2 + O → O3

(C6H10O5)n + 4n O3 → 6n CO2 + 5n H2O

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. Fix a test tube to a stand at an angle of 45 degrees.
  2. Pour 3 g of potassium permanganate into the test tube.
  3. Add 5 ml of sulfuric acid to potassium permanganate. The liquid should be colored in dark-green color.
  4. Slowly, one by one, throw small paper balls into the test tube.
  5. Observe the flash, bangs and smoke emission.

Scientific background

Sulfuric acid is a strong acid. Therefore, manganese acid forms from potassium permanganate by reacting with sulfuric acid. At the same time, sulfuric acid is a highly effective dehydrating agent. Thus, the reaction proceeds with manganese oxide formation.

Manganese oxide (VII) and manganese acid are strong oxidants decomposition of which leads to the formation of atomic oxygen and ozone.

Cellulose is ignited in contact with the atomic oxygen and ozone. Some other organic substances behave similarly.


Published on 30 June 2015

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