Violet Smoke Chemistry Demonstration

Produce Clouds of Violet Smoke

Iodine vapor produces the violet color of the smoke.
Iodine vapor produces the violet color of the smoke. In this photo, a light bulb illuminates the beautiful color of the gas. (c) Philip Evans / Getty Images

There are many chemistry demonstrations that produce smoke, but violet smoke is quite a lot more interesting! Here are two ways to produce violet smoke.

Violet Smoke Safety Info

As you might have guessed, the violet color comes from iodine vapor. Iodine is corrosive in solid and vapor form and may produce chemical burns, so wear protective gear when handling the chemical and perform the demonstration under a fume hood or in a large open space such as an auditorium.

Violet Smoke Method #1

  • 1 part powdered zinc
  • 4 parts powdered iodine
  • wash bottle or dropper bottle filled with water
  1. Separately powder the zinc and iodine, using a mortar and pestle.
  2. Mix the ingredients in a shallow dish.
  3. Perform the demonstration by spraying a stream of water onto the powdered mix. Violet vapor will immediately form. You may wish to place a white board behind the dish to make the violet smoke more visible.

Violet Smoke Method #2

This method is similar, except ammonium nitrate is added to produce a large quantity of white zinc oxide smoke. The iodine vapor colors the smoke violet or purple. If you want white smoke, omit the iodine.
  • 4 grams powdered ammonium nitrate
  • 4 grams powdered zinc
  • 1/2 gram iodine crystals
  • wash bottle or dropper bottle of water
  1. Powder the materials separately, then mix them together in a shallow dish.
  2. Initiate the reaction between the zinc and ammonium nitrate by spraying water onto the powdered ingredients. Iodine will sublimate in the heat of the reaction. White Smoke Chem Demo | Easy Violet Fire
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    Your Citation
    Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "Violet Smoke Chemistry Demonstration." ThoughtCo, May. 11, 2016, Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. (2016, May 11). Violet Smoke Chemistry Demonstration. Retrieved from Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "Violet Smoke Chemistry Demonstration." ThoughtCo. (accessed May 21, 2018).