Metal Projects

Chemistry Projects with Metals and Alloys

There are many interesting chemistry projects you can do using metals and alloys. Here are some of the best and most popular metal projects. Grow metal crystals, plate metals onto surfaces, identify them by their colors in a flame test and learn how to use them to perform the thermite reaction.

Flame Test

Flame Test - Copper Sulfate
Flame test performed on copper sulfate in a gas flame. Søren Wedel Nielsen

Metal salts may be identified by the color of flame they produce when they are heated. Learn how to perform the flame test and what the different colors mean.

Thermite Reaction

Thermite reaction between aluminum and ferric oxide.
Thermite reaction between aluminum and ferric oxide. CaesiumFluoride, Wikipedia Commons

The thermite reaction basically involves burning metal, much as you would burn wood, except with much more spectacular results.

Silver Crystals

This is a photo of a crystal of pure silver metal, deposited electrolytically.
This is a photo of a crystal of pure silver metal, deposited electrolytically. Note the dendrites of the crystals. Alchemist-hp, Creative Commons License

You can grow crystals of pure metals. Silver crystals are easy to grow and may be used for decorations or in jewelry.

Gold and Silver Pennies

You can use chemistry to change the color of copper pennies to silver and gold.
You can use chemistry to change the color of copper pennies to silver and gold. Anne Helmenstine

Pennies ordinarily are copper-colored, but you can use chemistry know-how to turn them silver or even gold! No, you won't be transmuting the copper into precious metal, but you'll learn how alloys are made.

Silver Ornaments

This silver ornament was made by chemically silvering the inside of a glass ball.
This silver ornament was made by chemically silvering the inside of a glass ball. Anne Helmenstine

Perform an oxidation-reduction reaction to mirror the interior of a glass ornament with silver. This is a wonderful project for making holiday decorations.

Bismuth Crystals

Bismuth is a crystalline white metal, with a pink tinge.
Bismuth is a crystalline white metal, with a pink tinge. The iridescent color of this bismuth crystal is the result of a thin oxide layer on its surface. Dschwen, wikipedia.org

You can grow bismuth crystals yourself. The crystals form rapidly from bismuth that you can melt over ordinary cooking heat.

Copper Plated Ornament

Metal Star Ornament
Metal Star Ornament. Andrea Church, www.morguefile.com

Apply a redox reaction to plate a layer of copper over zinc or a galvanize object to make a pretty copper ornament.

Liquid Magnets

Top view of a ferrofluid in a dish, placed over a magnet.
Top view of a ferrofluid in a dish, placed over a magnet. Steve Jurvetson, Flickr

Suspend an iron compound to make a fluid magnet. This is a more advanced do-it-yourself project. It's also possible to collect ferrofluid from certain audio speakers and DVD players.

Hollow Pennies

Perform a chemical reaction to remove the zinc from the inside of a penny, leaving the copper exterior intact. The result is a hollow penny.

Iron in Breakfast Cereal

There is enough iron metal in a box of breakfast cereal that you can actually see it if you pull it out with a magnet. Here's how to do it!