Gummy Bear meets Potassium Chlorate Experiment
A poor defenseless gummy bear, a test tube full of liquid potassium chlorate, and a couple of slightly mad scientists; seems like the perfect set up for some absurd B-movie horror flick, does it not? Well, not quite. It is more along the lines of two college science majors trying to come up with an experiment that will entertain a room full of high school freshman, and possibly plant the seed for a future scientist at the same time. So, like any good chemist, we figured that the more noise, smoke, and fire involved the better. And what better way to achieve that, then a rapid oxidation reaction? So, while some may call us cruel for this, we decided to sacrifice Bob, a.k.a the gummy bear, as a source of amusement to accomplish our goal, and it worked quite nicely.
The Science Behind the Procedure
So on to the procedure! Since we were the most explosive experiment, we started the experiment shindig with a blast, or, to make it more technical, with a rapid oxidation reaction. This reaction was, plainly put, placing a gummy bear into about 10g of molten potassium chlorate. If you are unfamiliar with molten potassium chlorate, it is a strong oxidizing agent that reacts violently with sugar, and gummy bears, those delicious goodies, have lots of sugar in them. So, in all, we have two reaction taking place here; the decomposition of the metal chlorates into a metal chloride and oxygen gas (2KClO3(S) → KCl (s) + 3O2(g)) when heated, and the sugar (gummy bear) reacting with the oxygen gas to produce carbon dioxide and water (C12H22O11(s) + 12 O2(g) →12 CO2(g) + 11 H2O (g)). In the second reaction we have a release of energy in the form of heat and bright light, thus quite a nice exothermic reaction. And, of course, we did this whole experiment behind the safety of a fume hood, because; let’s face it, no one wants molten gummy bear to get on them.
- 10g Potassium Chlorate
- 1 Gummy Bear
- 1 Long Medium/Large Test Tube
- 1 Bunsen Burner/Hot Plate
- 1 Test Tube Holder
- 1 Long Metal Tweezers
- 1 Fume Hood
- Pour about 10g of Potassium chlorate into a long medium/large test tube. Do not do this experiment with a small or short test tube as molten pieces of bear will fly out while the reaction progresses.
- Place the test tube into a clamp on a ring stand. Make sure that this set up is done in a Fume Hood. There will be lots of smoke, fire, and possible flaming pieces of molten gummy bear.
- Place the end of the test tube under a Bunsen Burner or onto a hot plat. (Bunsen Burner will give quicker results). Heat the Potassium chlorate until it is in a liquid state.
- Use a pare of metal tweezers to carefully add a gummy bear to the mixture. *Note: the potassium chorate will quickly recrystallize so do not take to long to add the gummy bear.
- Close the hood. Stand back and enjoy.
*NOTE: This experiment looks awesome, this is true, but this is a dangerous reaction that should only be done in a lab by professionals or under the supervision of professionals . So, if your interested, talk to your chemistry teacher. Or, if you are a professional, go have fun.