10 Cool Chemistry Demonstrations

Interesting Demonstration for Chemistry Class

Chemistry demonstrations can capture a student's attention and spark an enduring interest in the science. Here's a look at some noteworthy chemistry demos.
Walt changes the colors of a flame by spraying it with chemicals.
In the "Breaking Bad" pilot episoode, Walt sprays a bunsen burner flame with chemicals from a spray bottle and turns the flame different colors. AMC

Mix metal salts in alcohol. Spritz the liquid onto a flame to change its color. This is a great introduction to the study of emission spectra and flame tests. The colorants are of low toxicity, so this is also a safe demonstration. More »

Sugar
Google Images

Mixing sulfuric acid with sugar is simple, yet spectacular. The highly exothermic reaction produces a steaming black column that pushes itself up from the beaker. This demonstration can be used to illustration exothermic, dehydration, and elimination reactions. More »

Sulfur hexafluoride is more dense than air; helium is less dense than air.
Sulfur hexafluoride is more dense than air; helium is less dense than air. Ben Mills

If you breathe sulfur hexafluoride and talk, your voice will be very low. If you breathe helium and talk, your voice will be high and squeaky. This safe demonstration is easy to perform. More »

Photo of people making liquid nitrogen ice cream.
Photo of people making liquid nitrogen ice cream. Nicolas George

This simple demonstration can be used to introduce cryogenics and phase changes. The resulting ice cream tastes great, which is a nice bonus since not many things you do in the chemistry lab are edible. More »

The colors of this clock reaction oscillate between amber and blue.
The colors of this clock reaction oscillate between amber and blue. George Doyle, Getty Images

Three colorless solutions are mixed together. The color of the mixture oscillates between clear, amber, and deep blue. After about 3-5 minutes, the liquid stays a blue-black color. More »

Barking Dog Chemistry Demonstration
Barking Dog Chemistry Demonstration. Tobias Abel, Creative Commons

The Barking Dog chemistry demonstration is based on the reaction between nitrous oxide or nitrogen monoxide and carbon disulfide. Igniting the mixture in a long tube produces a bright blue flash, accompanied by a characteristic barking or woofing sound. The reaction can be used to demonstrate chemiluminescence, combustion, and exothermic reactions. More »

Use chemistry to turn a liquid into 'wine' or 'blood' and back to water again.
Use chemistry to turn a liquid into 'wine' or 'blood' and back to water again. Tastyart Ltd Rob White, Getty Images

This color change demonstration is used to introduce pH indicators and acid-base reactions. Phenolphthalein is added to water, which is poured into a second glass containing a base. If the pH of the resulting solution is right, you can make the liquid switch between red and clear indefinitely. More »

Make a clear liquid turn blue.
Make a clear liquid turn blue. Alice Edward, Getty Images

The red-clear color change of the water into wine or blood demo is classic, but you can use pH indicators to produce other color changes. The blue bottle demonstration alternates between blue and clear. These instructions also include information on performing a red-green demonstration. More »

The chemical reaction between hydrochloric acid and ammonia produces a white smoke.
The chemical reaction between hydrochloric acid and ammonia produces a white smoke consisting of ammonium chloride vapor. Walkerma, Wikipedia Commons

This is a nice phase change demonstration. React a jar of liquid and an apparently empty jar to make smoke. The white smoke chemistry demonstration is easy to perform and visually appealing. More »

Iodine crystals readily change to the gas phase.
Iodine crystals readily change to the gas phase. Matt Meadows, Getty Images

Iodine crystals are reacted with concentrated ammonia to precipitate nitrogen triiodide. The nitrogen triiodide is so unstable that the slightest contact causes it to decompose into nitrogen and iodine gas, producing a very loud 'snap' and a cloud of purple iodine vapor. More »