Science, Tech, Math › Science Test Tube Thunderstorm Demonstration Share Flipboard Email Print Blablo101 / Getty Images Science Chemistry Projects & Experiments Basics Chemical Laws Molecules Periodic Table Scientific Method Biochemistry Physical Chemistry Medical Chemistry Chemistry In Everyday Life Famous Chemists Activities for Kids Abbreviations & Acronyms Biology Physics Geology Astronomy Weather & Climate By Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Chemistry Expert Ph.D., Biomedical Sciences, University of Tennessee at Knoxville B.A., Physics and Mathematics, Hastings College Dr. Helmenstine holds a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences and is a science writer, educator, and consultant. She has taught science courses at the high school, college, and graduate levels. our editorial process Facebook Facebook Twitter Twitter Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Updated April 30, 2018 You can react chemicals to produce what looks like a thunderstorm in a test tube. This is a spectacular chemistry demonstration that is suitable for chemistry class or lab. Safety You must be careful with this demonstration and keep any students away from the setup. It involves corrosive acid, flammable alcohol or acetone, and a slight chance of glassware shattering as a result of the vigorous chemical reaction. The test tube thunderstorm demonstration should only be performed by qualified individuals, wearing full protective gear and using proper safety precautions. Materials 95% alcohol (any type) or acetonesulfuric acidpotassium permanganateglass pipettetest tube Perform the Demonstration Wear gloves, a face shield, and protective clothing. Pour some alcohol or acetone into a test tube.Use a glass pipette to introduce a layer of sulfuric acid below the alcohol or acetone. Avoid any mixing of the two liquids, since the demonstration won't work if too much mixing occurs. Do not handle the test tube beyond this point.Drop a few crystals of potassium permanganate into the test tube.Turn out the lights. The sulfuric acid and the permanganate react to form manganese heptoxide, which explodes when it comes into contact with the alcohol or acetone. The reaction looks a bit like a thunderstorm in a test tube.When the demonstration is concluded, inactivate the reaction by using metal tongs to place the test tube into a large container of water. Be very careful! There is a chance the test tube could shatter.