Potassium superoxide with lithium

A vigorous flame arises after water is added to the mixture of potassium superoxide and lithium

Scientific name: Burning of the mixture of potassium superoxide and lithium initiates with water


Alkali Metals - 18 Reaction of potassium superoxide with lithium

by Royal Society Of Chemistry


Use safety screens.

Wear 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

2KO2 + 2H2O → O2 + H2O2 + KOH

4Li + O2 → 2Li2O

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. Install an evaporating basin with the pieces of lithium to the big beaker. Set the beaker behind the protective screens.
  2. Put some potassium superoxide into the basin and mix it with lithium.
  3. Add a drop of water into the mixture. Use a syringe with a long cannula, because there is a risk of fire and sprinkles.

Scientific background

Potassium superoxide reacts with water to produce oxygen and heat. This reaction initiates lithium oxidation – a violent reaction accompanied by the release of large amounts of energy.


Published on 18 March 2015

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