Science Magic Tricks

Using Science to Perform Magic Tricks

You can use science to perform magic tricks and enhance any magic show. These tricks are great for use as science projects or just for fun.

In the burning money demonstration, paper currency is on fire yet is not consumed by the flames.
In the burning money demonstration, paper currency is on fire yet is not consumed by the flames. ICHIRO, Getty Images

Set money on fire and watch it burn out without damaging the bill. This is a nice magic trick, based on everyday chemistry.

Burning Money Step By Step 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

... or water into blood trick, if that's how you want it. This magic trick involves changing a clear liquid into a red liquid. The magic is reversible, so you can alternate between red and clear. More »

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You can supercool sodium acetate and cause it to crystallize on command.
You can supercool hot ice or sodium acetate so that it will remain a liquid below its melting point. Anne Helmenstine

Turn a clear liquid into what appears to be a block of ice... instantly! As the liquid crystallizes into ice, it generates heat (which is why the material is called hot ice). Another way to perform this trick is to have the liquid turn into a solid while you pour it. You can form hot ice mounds and towers and watch as the crystallization proceeds from your dish into your original container.​

Hot Ice Tutorial More »

Make your fingers smoke, as if by magic. However, there's science behind this trick, not magic.
Make your fingers smoke, as if by magic. However, there's science behind this trick, not magic. Anne Helmenstine

For this eerie science magic trick all you do is rub your fingers together. They will glow in the dark and will start to smoke.

Smoking Fingers Trick

Smoking Fingers Video More »

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

Take pennies or other copper coins and make them appear to change into silver and gold.​

Gold and Silver Pennies Trick More »

Egg in a Bottle Demonstration
The egg in a bottle demonstration illustrates concepts of pressure and volume. Anne Helmenstine

Set a hard-boiled egg on the neck of a bottle. It won't fit! You can use science to get the egg into the bottle without destroying either one. More »

Fireball
Fireball. Anne Helmenstine

Do you want fire you can hold in the palm of your hand? You can have it, but there is a trick to it.

Handheld Fireballs Trick More »

If you blow out a candle, you can relight it from a distance with another flame.
If you blow out a candle, you can relight it from a distance with another flame. Anne Helmenstine

In this trick you will blow out a candle and relight it from a distance with another flame. Did you know you could do that?

Traveling Flame Trick More »

Charge a plastic comb with static electricity from your hair and use it to bend a stream of water.
Charge a plastic comb with static electricity from your hair and use it to bend a stream of water. Anne Helmenstine
You can bend a stream of water without touching it. The secret of this trick is to get static electricity to move the water for you. More »
You can use invisible ink or disappearing ink to write secret messages.
You can use invisible ink or disappearing ink to write secret messages. Photodisc, Getty Images

Write a message using invisible ink and then make the message appear on blank paper as if by magic.

All about Invisible Ink More »

Eric is breathing fire by blowing corn starch over an open flame.
Eric is breathing fire by blowing corn starch over an open flame. Anne Helmenstine

Firebreathing is a spectacular trick in which is appears you are breathing flame. If done incorrectly, it's also extraordinarily dangerous! Fortunately, there is a non-flammable, non-toxic fuel you can use that makes this project safe enough to try. More »

Space-filling model of sulfur hexafluoride.
Space-filling model of sulfur hexafluoride. Ben Mills

Sulfur hexafluoride is a non-toxic invisible gas that is denser than air. You can use this gas for a few different science magic tricks such as floating a paper or foil boat seemingly on air or lowering your voice (the opposite of the effect from helium). More »

Beaker of Blue Liquid
Beaker of Blue Liquid. Alice Edward, Getty Images

Change a blue liquid into a clear liquid and back to blue. More »

All you need is water, pepper, and a drop of detergent to perform the pepper trick.
All you need is water, pepper, and a drop of detergent to perform the pepper trick. Anne Helmenstine

This is an easy magic trick that you can perform using ingredients from your kitchen. I've included an explanation of how the trick works and a link to a video so you can see what to expect.

Pepper and Water Trick

Pepper and Water Video More »

Squeezing and releasing the bottle changes the size of the air bubble inside the ketchup packet.
Squeezing and releasing the bottle changes the size of the air bubble inside the ketchup packet. This alters the density of the packet, causing it to sink or float. Anne Helmenstine

Place a ketchup packet in a bottle of water and make it rise and fall at your command, as if by magic. Of course, the magic involves some basic science. Here's how to do the diving ketchup trick and how it works. More »

Blow out a candle by pouring a glass of what appears to be air onto the flame.
Blow out a candle by pouring a glass of what appears to be air onto the flame. This easy science trick demonstrates what happens when air is replaced with carbon dioxide. Anne Helmenstine
Blow out a candle by pouring a glass of 'air' onto it. This is an easy trick that demonstrates that oxygen is necessary for combustion. More »
Can you see the liquids trading places in this image?
Can you see the liquids trading places in this image?. Anne Helmenstine

Take two glasses of different-colored liquids and watch the liquids switch places in the glasses. This science magic trick illustrates the different densities of liquids.

Trading Places Trick More »

Pour water into a shallow dish, light a match in the center of the dish and cover it with a glass.
Pour water into a shallow dish, light a match in the center of the dish and cover it with a glass. The water will be drawn into the glass. Anne Helmenstine

This is a simple and interesting science magic trick involving fire and water. All you need is water, a glass, a plate, and a couple of matches.

Match and Water Trick

Match and Water Video More »

Disappearing ink makes a stain when wet, yet vanishes when the ink dries.
Disappearing ink makes a stain when wet, yet vanishes when the ink dries. Southern Stock, Getty Images

You can make a blue or red ink that will disappear after exposure to air. Use another chemical to make the ink reappear. More »

If you disturb water that has been supercooled, it will suddenly crystallize into ice.
If you disturb water that has been supercooled or cooled below its freezing point, it will suddenly crystallize into ice. Vi..Cult..., Creative Commons License

You can chill water below its usual freezing point and then force it to crystallize on command. This is an example of supercooling. One of the most spectacular ways to perform this trick is to pour the supercooled water over an ice cube and watch the water freeze into ice back toward its container. More »

Add a few drops of food coloring to a plate of milk.
Add a few drops of food coloring to a plate of milk. Wet a cotton swab in dishwashing detergent and dip it in the center of the plate. What happens?. Anne Helmenstine

Normally if you drop food coloring onto a liquid, such as milk, it will just sit there, eventually diffusing. With this trick, the colors swirl around each other as if by magic.

How to Perform the Milk Color Wheel Trick

Milk Color Wheel Video More »

Take multiple streams of water and tie them together with a touch of your hand! Is it magic? Actually it's surface tension. More »

One cool trick is to actually write words using fire.
One cool trick is to actually write words using fire. Joshua Hultquist / Getty Images

Write a message using an invisible ink. The message will be revealed by passing a flame over the paper, causing the secret to burn away. Except for the message, the paper won't burn. More »

Nylon is a polymer you can make in the lab.
Nylon is a polymer you can make in the lab. Glow Images, Inc / Getty Images

Dip forceps into a layered liquid and pull out an ever-growing rope of nylon fiber as it polymerizes from the reaction between the two chemicals. More »

You can pull a length of wire through an ice cube thanks to the process of regelation.
You can pull a length of wire through an ice cube thanks to the process of regelation. Anne Helmenstine

Pull a length of wire through an ice cube, without cutting the ice cube in half! This trick relies on the phenomenon known as regelation, which allows the wire to cut the ice and refreezes the ice cube behind it. More »

No cookware? No problem! Use a paper bag to cook water over an open flame.
No cookware? No problem! Use a paper bag to cook water over an open flame. Thomas Northcut, Getty Images

You know you can boil water over a fire. That is not the trick. The science trick here is that the water is inside a paper bag!​

How to Boil Water in a Paper Bag More »

Burning Candle
Burning Candle. Ariadna, morguefile.com

Light a candle, blow it out and then eat the candle! The basis for this science trick is using a food that looks and burns like an ordinary candle wick. The candle itself is food that looks like a wax candle.

How To Do the Edible Candle Trick More »

Make a paper ghost dance in the air as if by magic!
Make a paper ghost dance in the air as if by magic! This is a great educational Halloween science project. Anne Helmenstine

Cut out a ghost shape from a piece of paper and make it dance in the air, as if by magic. This is a simple trick, where static electricity makes paper move. The ghost shape is perfect for Halloween, but you can use any shape. More »

You can simulate the odor of violets using a chemical reaction.
You can simulate the odor of violets using a chemical reaction. Hoodedwarbler12, Creative Commons License

Heat together two common chemicals to fill the air with the odor of violets. This trick is interesting not just because of the odor that is produced, but because this chemical 'comes and goes' in human awareness, so you'll smell the violets, the odor will vanish, and then it will return. More »

This snowflake has a fernlike structure.
This snowflake has a fernlike structure. Wilson Bentley

Throw boiling water into the air and watch it instantly turn into snow! Usually, all you get is boiling water in the air, but if you have a really cold winter day, the water falls as snow. More »