TSC: Benedict’s Test for Reducing Sugars demonstration


We often hear people emphasizing about the amount of sugar in their food or drink, and the health risks that are associated with a high sugar intake. But how do scientists quantify the concentration of sugar in various substances? Before the relatively recent invention of sensitive and expensive electronic devices, well, there was beautiful and colorful chemistry!

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Synthesis of sodium citrate


The simple synthesis of sodium citrate from sodium hydrogencarbonate and citric acid, for use in making Benedict’s reagent. This post also serves as a test for a new writing layout as I move slightly closer to a scientific paper format, and also includes a test video on my new YouTube channel which, for now, will produce a video now and then to accompany a chosen post here on WordPress.

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The Chemical Chameleon demonstration

It can be hard to visualise the oxidation states of transition metals but this demonstration has you covered. The rich array of colours of manganese in each of its oxidation states never ceases to amaze. Purple, green, blue, orange. You name it, manganese has it. Exploiting this ability of manganese, and a hydroxide and reducing sugar, this simple to set-up and non-toxic reaction self cycles through almost every colour of the rainbow. It really does earn the name of the Chemical Chameleon!

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TSC: The Silver Tree Demonstration and The Reactivity Series


Every element on the periodic table is as unique as the next, differing in color, toxicity, boiling points, magnetic properties, and of course, reactivity. Chemical reactivity is an important predictor of reactions, sometimes shown in a simplified form known as the reactivity series. Learn about it through a step-by-step demonstration of the famous ‘Silver Tree’ experiment that you can try at home!

To read the full article, click here, or follow the link below:



This post was written for The Skeptical Chemist (TSC), a website that has me recruited as an author. They are a small team of writers hoping to empower the reader with scientifically accurate information in a fun way, combating how media outlets tend to exaggerate scientific claims.

I enjoy writing guides there in the High School Level Guides category, using practical chemistry and demonstrations to help explain those tricky concepts taught in high school. I will occasionally be posting on this blog links to new posts I have written for the TSC, as this blog is a collection of all things chemical I write, but I would highly recommend checking out their website along with their other authors and content!

Extracting ethanol from antiseptic gels

Due to their many uses, alcohols can be found in a wide range of products. Here is another attempt at extracting an alcohol, this time ethanol, a very useful basic laboratory reagent, from its function as a disinfectant in hand gels. I run into a few problems with the viscosity of the gels, but overall it is a nice, simple extraction – just requiring one or two distillations and some drying – providing a product pure enough for some uses around the lab.

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The Hot Ice demonstration

It can sometimes be difficult to visualise chemistry, with seemingly infinitely small atoms going on about their business at a speed that can be too fast or, more often, too slow to fully appreciate. The Hot Ice demonstration takes on this challenge, taking advantage of the supersaturation that can occur in a sodium ethanoate solution to show, without a chemical reaction even occurring, its sudden crystallisation that propagates as a wave through the solution. It does this while releasing substantial heat, giving the otherwise bizarre effect of heating a liquid which then subsequently solidifies. A very easy and satisfying demo!

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The Crystal Garden Demonstration

This simple demonstration holds a special place in many chemist’s hearts – certainly mine. The vividness of the chemical reactions that you are witnessing, with little plant-like growths sprouting in different directions at a just visible speed, controlled as if by tiny different minds in each shoot, provides a visual representation of the unique characteristics of many transition metal compounds all in one demonstration. A sort of chemical family photo if you will!

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Extracting lithium metal from batteries

Being an extremely reactive alkali metal, anybody would suggest lithium would be a hard find for the grubby mitts of the home chemist. Thankfully, a few brands of battery allow the best and easiest method of extracting large chunks of the metal, without any more hassle than a little time and some old-fashioned elbow grease. Depending on your tools and methods for attempting to crack open a steel casing though, the job can range from much harder to slightly easier.

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The Rainbow Snow Globe demonstration

With a simple winter-themed demonstration, I show how you can use a little diet salt to make a homemade snow globe that forms needle-like crystals of potassium chloride with a simple trick. Although, it is also time to party for the new year, so these little guys also love to refract light into a mesmerising array of colours. The demonstration pulls this off by manipulating temperature solubilities, so you can enjoy repeating it again and again with the aid of only a heat source.

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Synthesis of copper(II) chloride using copper metal

In another expedition of transition metal chemistry I shall be synthesising a small amount of copper(II) chloride dihydrate crystals – almost purely for their gorgeous green aesthetic. The simple combination of copper, hydrochloric acid and some hydrogen peroxide to act as the oxidiser is all you need, but I still find a way to screw up my yields. Nevertheless, I do get a nice crop of the beauties and I hope you can enjoy looking at them as much as I do!

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Extracting propan-2-ol from old food dyes

Distillation is an extremely useful technique. I will be employing it for my first time at home by attempting an extraction of propan-2-ol from old food dyes. I end up trying to dry some of the product with some anhydrous copper(II) sulfate(VI), but I am at the limit of my knowledge with parts of this experiment, and I run into a few problems. The process was at least semi-successful though, with plans to use some of the propan-2-ol in the synthesis of some esters.

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