Zinc and sulfur

Mixture of zinc and sulfur intensively burns

Scientific name: Demonstration of the reaction between zinc and sulfur


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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. There are many sparks in this experiment - use a protection shield! This experiment must be performed in a well-ventilated room or in a fume hood.

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

Reaction formula

Zn + S → ZnS

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. Place about 1 gram of powdered zinc and 1 gram of powdered sulfur into a beaker.
  2. Mix the substances by rotating the beaker.
  3. The next step of the experiment should be performed in a fume hood.
  4. Pour the zinc and sulfur mixture on a fire-proof surface making a small pile.
  5. Heat a steel rod with gas burner.
  6. Hold the rod to the pile and touch the substances for the reaction to start.
  7. Sulfur and zinc reacts vigorously with evolution of a large amount of heat and smoke.

Scientific background

Zinc and sulfur react forming zinc sulfide.

Zn + S → ZnS

The reaction is highly exothermic, very violent and is accompanied by bright green-yellow flashes and evolution of a large amount of heat. After ignition sulfur combusts (reacts with oxygen from air), the mixture of zinc and sulfur is heated and over time enough energy is accumulated to initiate the reaction between sulfur and zinc. The side products also involve some small amounts of zinc oxide and sulfur dioxide. Zinc sulfide is the main form of zinc in nature. It occurs in the form of mineral ore sphalerite.


Published on 14 July 2015

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