Reaction in air bags

Generation of large amounts of gas under thermal or mechanical influence on sodium azide

Scientific name: Decomposition of the sodium azide to sodium and nitrogen


Chemistry experiment 42 - Explosive properties of azides

It's a Gas 28 - Airbag Sodium Azide

by Royal Society Of Chemistry

Alkali Metals - 13 Compounds of sodium and nitrogen - Sodium Azide

Airbag explosion

by StarBeacon

How an Airbag works

by HerrPingui

Разложение азида натрия | The decomposition of sodium azide | 2NaN3 = 2Na + 3N2

by Chemistry Saschko

Разложение азида калия

by DmitriyScott


Wear eye protection goggles.

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 NaN3 → 2 Na + 3 N2


  1. Sodium azide

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. Pour 0.5 gram of sodium azide to a test tube.
  2. Close the test tube with a stopper with a tap and fix it in a stand.
  3. The other end of the hose must be connected to a flask fitted with a stopper with a double tap.
  4. Fill a graduated cylinder with water and place it in an aquarium with water upside down.
  5. Connect the hose from the flask to the cylinder.
  6. Heat the sodium azide, using a gas burner.
  7. Observe how the cylinder fills with a large amount of gas.

Scientific background

Sodium azide is a salt of hydrazoic acid. This compound is very unstable and quickly decomposes under external influence to simple substances. Sodium azide contains a large amount of nitrogen. 1 mole of sodium azide may release 1.5 mole of nitrogen.

This reaction is used in airbags.


Published on 15 May 2015

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