Explosion of Potassium in Water

When metal comes in contact with water a pink flame appears and an explosion takes place.

Scientific name: Potassium reacts with water producing hydrogen which catches fire and explodes.


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The reaction is very rough! There is a serious fire risk - a fire extinguisher should be ready. Use safety screen. There will be an explosion - keep a safe distance. Wear lab gloves and eye protection goggles or a face shield.

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

Reaction formula

2K + H2O → 2KOH + H2

2H2 + O2 → 2H2O


  1. Potassium
  2. Water

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. Fill the trough about half full with water.
  2. Put all the equipment under a safety screen.
  3. Take the metal out from oil using tweezers.
  4. Cut a small piece of potassium.
  5. Remove the oil with a filter paper.
  6. With tweezers drop a piece of potassium on the water surface.
  7. Move away
  8. A pink flame appears and an explosion takes place.

Scientific background

Potassium is a very reactive alkaline metal. When it comes in contact with water it reacts rapidly as follows:

2K + H2O → 2KOH + H2

A lot of heat is produced in this reaction. It ignites the released hydrogen. Hydrogen formed in the reaction catches fire and reacts with the oxygen of air making the explosion:

2H2 + O2 → 2H2O

The hydrogen flame is pink because of presence of potassium ions.


Published on 11 March 2015

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