Exploding Elephant Toothpaste Write Up

Hydrogen peroxide (H?O?) is an unstable oxidizer that will readily decompose into water and oxygen, given the right catalyst. A catalyst increases the rate of a reaction. In our reaction, we used potassium iodide (KI) as the catalyst. When mixed with dish soap, the rapid production of oxygen gas creates a hot oxygen foam with the appearance of toothpaste. However, when the mixture also contains a flammable liquid such as alcohol, it creates an even mixture of fuel and oxygen. Because of this, it burns more very quickly, to the point where it is basically an explosion.

Over all chemical reaction:

  1. H?O? + KI ? H?O + KIO
  2. H?O? + KIO ? H?O + O? + KI
  3. C?H?OH + 3O? ? 2CO? + 3H?O

The first two equations describe the decomposition of Hydrogen Peroxide into water and oxygen. The third equation describes the combustion in the explosion.

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