Magic tricks using chemistry

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13 Nov 2011 14:44:31 IST
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13 Nov 2011 14:44:31 IST
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Magic tricks using chemistry
Engineering Entrance , JEE Main , JEE Main & Advanced , Chemistry , General Knowledge

Magic Tricks Using Chemistry:

Here are some events which are the magic of chemical equation. Events which are performed on behalf of some scientific logic of chemistry are listed here with how it can be done, magic recipe, content/ingredient needed or what is needed .. 



Here is what you need to perform the burning money demonstration:

  • dollar bill (higher denomination if you're brave)
  • tongs
  • matches or a lighter
  • salt (or one of these chemicals if you want a colored flame)
  • solution of 50% alcohol and 50% water (you can mix 95% alcohol with water in a 1:1 ratio, if desired)

this is a neat 'magic trick' that illustrates the process of combustion, the flammability of alcohol, and the special qualities of the material used to make currency.

Scientific Concept behind Burning Money

A combustion reaction occurs between alcohol and oxygen, producing heat and light (energy) and carbon dioxide and water.

C2H5OH + 4 O2 -> 2 CO2 + 3 H2O + energy

When the bill is soaked an alcohol-water solution, the alcohol has a high vapor pressure and is mainly on the outside of the material (a bill is more like fabric than paper, which is nice, if you've ever accidentally washed one). When the bill is lit, the alcohol is what actually burns. The temperature at which the alcohol burns is not high enough to evaporate the water, which has a high specific heat, so the bill remains wet and isn't able to catch fire on its own. After the alcohol has burned, the flame goes out, leaving a slightly damp dollar bill.



Here's How to Do This:

  1. Sprinkle sodium carbonate to coat the bottom of a drinking glass.
  2. Fill a second glass halfway full of water. Add ~10 drops phenolphthalein indicator solution to the water. The glasses can be prepared in advance.
  3. To change water into wine or blood, pour the water with indicator into the glass that contains the sodium carbonate. Stir the contents to mix the sodium carbonate, and the water will change from clear to red.
  4. If you like, you can use a straw to blow air into the red liquid to change it back to clear.
  5. The principle is the same as for the dissapearing link formula. Phenolphthalein is an acid-base indicator.

Tips / Precautions While Before Doing:

  1. Phenolphthalein and sodium carbonate can be ordered freely from any scientific supplier. Most grade school and high school science labs have these chemicals, though you can order them yourself.
  2. Don't drink the water/wine/blood. It isn't particularly toxic, but it isn't good for you either. The liquid can be poured down the drain when the demonstration is complete.
  3. For a normal drinking glass, the ratio used to get the reversible color change reaction is 5 parts sodium carbonate per 10 drops of a phenolphthalein stock solution.

What You Need Perform: 

  • phenolphthalein pH indicator
  • sodium carbonate
  • water
  • 2 glasses
  • stirring rod
  • straw or pipette

Do Practice with Sample Objective Questions in Chemistry    


Here's How to Do This:

Disappearing ink is a water-based  Acid-base indicator(pH indicator) that changes from a colored to a colorless solution upon exposure to air. The most common pH indicators for the ink are thymolphthalein (blue) or phenolphthalein (red or pink). The indicators are mixed into a basic solution that becomes more acidic upon exposure to air, causing the color change. Note that in addition to disappearing ink, you could use different indicators to make color-change inks, too.

How Disappearing Ink Works:

When the ink is sprayed onto a porous material the water in the ink reacts with carbon dioxide in the air to form carbonic acid. The carbonic acid then reacts with the sodium hydroxide in a neutralization reaction to form sodium carbonate. Neutralizaton of the base causes a color change of the indicator and the stain disappears:

Carbon dioxide in the air reacts with water to form carbonic acid:

CO2 + H2O → H2CO3

The neutralization reaction is sodium hydroxide + carbonic acid -> sodium carbonate + water:

2 Na(OH) + H2CO3 → Na2CO3 + 2 H2O

Let's make disappearing ink


Disappearing Ink Materials:

Here's what you need in order to make your own blue or red disappearing ink: 

  • 0.10 g thymolphthalein for blue ink or phenolphthalein for red ink (1/3 of 1/8 tsp)
  • 10 ml (2 tsp) ethyl alcohol (ethanol) [can substitute 14 ml or 3 tsp of ethyl rubbing alcohol]
  • 90 ml water
  • 20 drops of 3M sodium hydroxide solution or 10 drops 6M sodium hydroxide solution [make a 3 M sodium hydroxide solution by dissolving 12 g of sodium hydroxide NaOH (1 level tablespoon of lye) in 100 ml (1/2 cup) of water.]

Let's try it out.

Make Disappearing Ink

Here's how to make your own disappearing ink:


  1. Dissolve the thymolphthalein (or phenolphthalein) in the ethyl alcohol.
  2. Stir in 90 ml of water (will produce a milky solution).
  3. Add sodium hydroxide solution dropwise until the solution turns a dark blue or red (might take slightly more or less than the number of drops stated in the  materals section).
  4. Test the ink by applying it to fabric (cotton tee-shirt material or a table cloth works well). Paper allows less interaction with air, so the color change reaction takes more time.
  5. In a few seconds, the 'stain' will disappear. The pH of the ink solution is 10-11, but after exposure to air will drop to 5-6. The damp spot will eventually dry. A white residue may be visible on dark fabrics. The residue will rinse out in the wash.
  6. If you brush over the spot with a cotton ball that has been dampened in ammonia the color will return. Similarly, the color will vanish more quickly if you apply a cotton ball dampened with vinegar or if you blow on the spot to improve air circulation.
  7. Leftover ink may be stored in a sealed container. All of the materials may be safely poured down the drain.


Disappearing Ink Safety 

  • Never spray disappearing ink into a person's face. Particularly avoid getting the solution in the eyes.
  • Preparing/handling the sodium hydroxide (lye) solution requires adult supervision, as the base is caustic. In case of skin contact, immediately rinse well with water.


Which among the three was the best one ?? was is useful ? 

Some of The Related Articles:

New Chemistry Syllabus IITJEE 2012 Entrance

Few Important Reagents in Organic Chemistry

IUPAC Nomenclature & Organic Compound Structure

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