Iron Volcano

Iron volcano erupts with white smoke and golden sparks.

Scientific name: Iron powder is oxidized by potassium nitrate.


Potassium nitrate with iron powder

Удивительный опыт - Ферратный вулкан


Wear lab gloves and eye protection. There is a serious fire risk - a fire extinguisher should be ready. Make sure there is nothing flammable nearby.

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

Reaction formula

2KNO3 + Fe → K2FeO4 + 2NO

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. This experiment demonstrates the eruption of an iron volcano.
  2. First let’s prepare a suitable site for volcano.
  3. Pour 4-5 spoons of sand in a hill-like shape on a fire-proof surface.
  4. Make a socket on the top the sand hill.
  5. Weight out equal amounts of iron powder and potassium nitrate. Mix the components thoroughly.
  6. Place the mixture into the socket.
  7. It is hard to ignite an iron-potassium nitrate mixture. It could stand the action of a burner flame for a while. One of the ways to overcome this difficulty is using red-hot coal. Heat the piece of coal with a gas burner till it becomes red-hot. Put the coal on top of the reagents mixture.
  8. The active burning begins. The release of gold sparks and white smoke is observed. The substances are heated to a bright-yellow color and resemble lava.

Scientific background

Iron powder is oxidized by potassium nitrate. Potassium nitrate in this experiment works as source of oxygen. The Mixture of the components reacts forming potassium ferrate and nitrogen monoxide. The Reaction is highly exothermic and is accompanied with the evolution of a large amount of heat, sparks and smoke.


Published on 09 September 2015

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