Random Chemistry Fun

Any interesting reactions that aren't complex or specialized enough to deserve their own page are listed here.

For help sourcing the chemicals listed here, check out this page.

Making Hydrogen

The reaction of aqueous NaOH and Al will produce lots of hydrogen quickly. The reaction is as follows:

2NaOH + 2Al + 2H2O -> 2NaAlO2 + 3H2

This can be done simply by putting some lye-based drain cleaner (concentrated NaOH) in a bottle and then adding some aluminum foil. The reaction is fast, but can take some 30 seconds to start because the NaOH takes a little while to eat through the aluminum oxide layer on the foil, so add the foil and quickly fit a balloon over the mouth of the bottle. When the reaction starts, the balloon will quickly fill with hydrogen. After the reaction is over, the balloon can be removed and tied off. For kicks, I set the balloons on fire and they make a nice "bang!". Make sure to wear protective eye-wear and gloves at minumum. I noticed some greyish gunk left in the solution, which I suspect was the sodium aluminate (NaAlO2).