Really wonderful community video collaboration from the chem-hackers of sciencemadness.org, including MAKE pal and guest blogger Hayden Parker. Over about fourteen minutes, we are treated to a bench-side view of two dozen energetic reactions that share an interesting property: reagents that, on mixing, spontaneously burst into flame. fire without matches image Fire Without Matches: Twenty Three Spontaneously Igniting Reactions

My favorite of the lot is the beautiful, er, “purple haze” produced by the reaction of finely divided aluminum and iodine, which starts at 5:50. A close second is the unusual solid-phase reaction between vitamin c and sodium chlorite—two dry powders that spontaneously burn when stirred or shaken together—which starts at 5:00.

Sean Michael Ragan

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and makezine.com. My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c’t – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.


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