Hyperborean mountains are formed of pure hematite, with veins of naturally occurring steel sprawling throughout their interior. Some of the grandest peaks reach as far as the ionosphere, slicing the northern lights in two as they pass overhead. Their bodies resist climbers and prospectors as easily as they resist the wind, but erosion and entropy always find a way.

The glaciers here are not what they at first seem to be. Those who gaze long enough into their translucent surfaces can faintly see their inner workings hammering away on the ground below, thousands of cogwheels and pistons aggressively chewing away at the world. Their concealed mechanisms can be heard throughout the whole of the range as a dull and percussive pulse.

The glacial ice has alloyed with the iron below in a poorly understood chemical reaction that leverages the aurora borealis itself as a catalyst. Despite its appearance, it does not easily melt, and is sometimes as hot as a coal furnace to the touch. Occasionally the engines within become overloaded, causing eruptions of molten metal and explosive steam.

These mechanical glaciers and the mountains that they swallow have evolved in unison, predator and prey. Some day, however, a magnetic desert of metal sands is all that will remain.

This is a fun chemical reaction that often goes under the name of elephant toothpaste,  obviously because it looks like giant toothpaste.

This is a pretty cool reaction because it only requires hydrogen peroxide (H2O2,) yeast dissolved in water and dish soap. And bam “toothpaste”

The great thing is the only byproducts are water, soap and oxygen. Clean up is easy, no harmful toxins. Great for showing kids and adults alike the wonders of chemistry! (beware, this is an exothermic reaction and puts off a lot of heat – if you try it at home take safety precautions to avoid burns.)


The Magical World of Living Light

This is the mysterious spectacle of bioluminescence. Its hard not to revel in the beauty of this remarkable natural phenomenon. These glowing creatures are primarily a product of the ocean. They are the primary source of light in the largest and darkest area of habitable land on Earth, the deep sea. On land, they are most commonly seen as glowing fungus on wood (foxfire) or in the few families of luminous insects (fireflies). 


The violent reaction between sodium hydride and water. 

Sodium hydride is a salt-like hydride, composed of Na+ and H− ions, it is an ionic material that is insoluble in organic solvents, but soluble in molten sodium metal and quite often used as a base in chemistry. 

When contact with water sodium hydride releases hydrogen, turns into sodium hydroxide and generates a lot heat. Because of this heat the generated hydrogen gas ignites and because of the presence of sodium ions it burns with an intense yellow color (as seen). 

NaH(s) + H2O(l) –> NaOH(aq) + H2(g) 

Because of this, NaH is usually sold mixed with mineral oil what keeps away water and protects the hydride from moisture. However if it is stored for long time, it should be titrated by measuring the amount of hydrogen generated from the reaction of the hydride and an alcohol. 


How Popcorn Pops!

Popcorn kernels contain oil and water with starch, surrounded by a hard and strong outer coating. When popcorn is heated, the water inside the kernel tries to expand into steam, but it cannot escape through the seed coat (the popcorn hull). The hot oil and steam gelatinizes the starch inside the popcorn kernel, making it softer and more pliable. When the popcorn reaches a temperature of 180 °C (356 °F), the pressure inside the kernel is around 135 psi (930 kPa). This is sufficient pressure to rupture the popcorn hull, essentially turning the kernel inside-out. The pressure inside the kernel is released very quickly, expanding the proteins and starch inside the popcorn kernel into a foam, which cools and sets into the familiar popcorn puff.

source 1, 2


‘Hot ice’ is created using sodium acetate, which is a salt created from the reaction between sodium bicarbonate, or baking soda, and acetic acid, or vinegar. When this reaction occurs, sodium acetate appears to freeze like ‘ice’ as the cold solution turns from liquid to solid. This process is exothermic, meaning that the solid structure is warm to the touch. Solutions of sodium acetate are used in certain types of hand-warmers. When a metal button is pressed inside the plastic pouch containing the solution, it releases chemicals that starts the reaction. Don’t worry his hand is fine.


Rare Nacreous Clouds

Also called polar stratospheric clouds or mother of pearl clouds, nacreous clouds are mostly visible within two hours after sunset or before dawn. They blaze unbelievably bright with vivid, iridescent colors. These clouds are rare and occur in the polar stratosphere at altitudes of 15,000–25,000 meters. They are so bright because at those heights, they are still sunlit.

Although incredibly beautiful, they have a negative impact on our atmosphere. They create ozone holes by supporting chemical reactions that produce active chlorine which catalyzes ozone destruction.

Sulphuric Acid and sugar- dehydration of sugar (sucrose)

“Basically, all you do to perform this demonstration is put ordinary table sugar in a glass beaker and stir in some concentrated sulfuric acid (you can dampen the sugar with a small volume of water before adding the sulfuric acid). The sulfuric acid removes water from the sugar in a highly exothermic reaction, releasing heat, steam, and sulfur oxide fumes. Aside from the sulfurous odor, the reaction smells a lot like caramel. The white sugar turns into a black carbonized tube that pushes itself out of the beaker.

Sugar is a carbohydrate, so when you remove the water from the molecule, you’re basically left with elemental carbon. The dehydration reaction is a type of elimination reaction.

C12H22O11 (sugar) + H2SO4 (sulfuric acid) → 12 C (carbon) + 11 H2O (water) + mixture water and acid

Although the sugar is dehydrated, the water isn’t ‘lost’ in the reaction. Some of it remains as a liquid in the acid. Since the reaction is exothermic, much of the water is boiled off as steam.”

This is post number 9 in the “Acid + Things” series for today.