Wax and potassium permanganate

Demonstration of the reaction between potassium permanganate and wax

Scientific name: Potassium permanganate oxidizes hydrocarbons of wax


Реакция перманганата с парафином

by ФизматФильм


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

C18H38 →[KMnO4, T]→ RCHO + RCOOH

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. Put the mixture of paraffin wax and potassium permanganate into a test-tube.
  2. Heat the test-tube with a burner. An exotermic reaction with flashes occurs.

Scientific background

Paraffin wax is a mixture of various hydrocarbons, primarily alkanes. Alkanes are not oxidized by potassium permanganate at room temperature, but can react under heating. The mixture of carbon acids and other organic compounds is formed in this case.

A violent exothermic reaction occurs in the mixture of paraffin wax and potassium permanganate. If you overheat the mixture, the products of pyrolysis ignite near the mouth of the test-tube.


Published on 02 September 2015

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