Test tube thunderstorm

Purple crystals explode with a bright flash on the border between two liquids.

Scientific name: Potassium permanganate reacts with concentrated sulfuric acid and alcohol.


Make a Test Tube Thunderstorm!

by NurdRage

"Thunder in a Test tube" with Ethanol and Acetone

by C For Chemistry

Thunderstorm in a test tube , chemistry experiment .

by TwirlyWhirly555

Thunderstorm in a Test Tube!

by Gooferking Science


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

Reaction formula

4KMnO4 + 5C2H5OH + 6H2SO4 → 4MnSO4 + 5CH3COOH + 2K2SO4 + 11H2O

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 about 3 ml of concentrated sulfuric acid.
  2. With a pipette carefully add a layer of ethanol (or other alcohol). Avoid mixing the layers.
  3. Drop some potassium permanganate crystals.
  4. When potassium permanganate crystals come to the border between the layers the reaction begins.

Scientific background

In the considered experiment the oxidation reaction of alcohol (in considered example - ethanol) by permanganate ion in presence of concentrated sulfuric acid is studied. When potassium permanganate crystals (KMnO4) come to the border between sulfuric acid (H2SO4) and ethanol (C2H5OH) a reaction begins.

4KMnO4 + 5C2H5OH + 6H2SO4 → 4MnSO4 + 5CH3COOH + 2K2SO4 + 11H2O

The reaction is accompanied by evolution of a large amount of energy. It releases in form of light.


Published on 14 March 2015

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