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What chemical best reacts violently with electricity when combined?
Question Date: 2003-10-30
Answer 1:

First of all, playing with electricity and creating explosions is VERY dangerous, and I will not give you any ideas that could cause you to get hurt!!!

Now, to answer your experimental question: For chemicals that would be commercially available to you, you won't get just one chemical to react with electricity violently just by itself - you need to have some reaction in mind for which you could use an electric current to start the reaction. But, again, the reactions that I know of I would not recommend for you to try, because they are dangerous!

Here's a cool example of something you could do that would be safe: Two different metals, when put in contact through an electrolyte (a solution that conducts electricity) will form a battery, and you can measure a current. That is pretty cool! You can put two rods made of two different metals like zinc and copper into a lemon, and connect the two electrodes (that's what we call the metal rods)to a milliammeter (an instrument for measuring electrical current in milliamperes) and you will see a current.

Here's another reaction that is mildly dangerous, that can give you a nice explosion, but YOU MUST GET YOUR TEACHER TO HELP YOU!!!!

You can put a piece of zinc into a weak solution of hydrochloric acid and you will see bubbles come off - that is hydrogen gas forming. The reaction is:
Zn + 2HCl --> H2 + ZnCl2

Now, here's how to make an explosion: Get a test tube and a stopper with one hole, and put a glass tube through the hole, and put a flexible hose on the end of the glass tube; now fill a flat, wide bowl or dish with a solution of water and dish detergent. Now put the HCl and Zinc in the test tube, (BE CAREFUL BECAUSE THE TEST TUBE GETS HOT!!! SO PUT IT IN A RACK AND DON'T HOLD IT!) and put the stopper with the tube in the test tube, and put the end of the hose into the solution of water and dish soap. Bubbles will form - and these bubbles are filled with hydrogen gas from the reaction. Hydrogen is very explosive! Now - WEAR GOGGLES AND BE VERY CAREFUL! Get a long wooden splint and light one end (I say LONG splint,and NOT an ordinary match, because you DON'T WANT TO GET YOUR HAND ANYWHERE NEAR THE EXPLOSION!) - now, touch the fire to the soap bubbles and they will pop with a nice loud explosion.

So - this does not answer your question, but if I were your teacher I'd advise you NOT to do anything really dangerous for an experiment that you are supposed to do by yourself, and NOT to play with electricity!

Now that I have destroyed your question, I'll offer you another: you now know how to make hydrogen, and you know that hydrogen is explosive. You can ask the question: what chemicals, combined with what acids, will make what gases, and which gases are explosive? And then you can find ways to test the gases, and now I have given you a means to test to see if the gases are explosive in a fairly safe way. Be very careful with the fire!!!! Because the bubbles tend to be small, the explosions are relatively safe - you still must wear goggles - but they won't send stuff flying everywhere, and they are still rather spectacular and exciting, and all your friends (and teachers) will think you are way, way cool.

Good luck with your project.

Answer 2:

If you really want a violent reaction you could do electrolysis of water and make hydrogen and oxygen. That should make a nice fire.

Safer experiments with electrochemistry can be found at this site:

At your age, violent chemical reaction may not be a good thing, especially if you do this without teacher's supervision.

Answer 3:

I am an engineering graduate student at UCSB. It pleases me to hear that you are interested in electricity and chemicals. I've read your email and understand that you want a list of chemicals that react with electricity. Actually, what you stated is chemicals that "violently reacts with electricity." I don't know if this is a safe experiment to conduct. I'm sure that you have asked this question because you want your experiment to be exciting. You may also want to think of the safety involved in your experiment.

Anyways, the experiment that I was thinking that involves chemicals and electricity is making a fuel cell. A fuel cell is a device that produces electricity using chemicals. You can actually measure the amount of electricity being produced using a machine called an ammeter or voltmeter, which can either measure current or voltage. The electricity is produced when a chemical reaction occurs that will produce water and electricity.

Fuel cells have been used in outer space and you may have heard of them being used to run cars. Some chemicals that have been used to produce such a chemical reaction are copper sulfate, magnesium sulfate, sodium chloride, and lead nitrate. You can also look into using salt water to cause a chemical reaction. You would need to investigate how to properly mix the solutions to acquire the appropriate reaction and then there's the issue of obtaining the chemicals. It sound like a fun experiment. I hope it works out for the type of experiment that you are conducting.

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