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Author: Subject: Sulfur experiment ideas
Chemi Pharma
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[*] posted on 21-5-2019 at 01:37


Just to prove my point of view, against the fact sulfur and potassium chlorate combination don't be self-ignited expontaneously, I bring the example of the matchboxes.

The tip of Match has : potassium chlorate (an oxidant), sulfur, starch, glue and some other ingredients, like antimony pentasulfide;

The friction Surface has : red phosphorus, powdered glass, and glue.

Look at wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Match

If your theory based on the Authors and books you've referenced were right about sulfur-potassium chlorate couple, I'm wondering about why matches are sold everywhere in the world with the regulating agencies approval and without self ignition incident knowed.

Comercial gunpowder used in fireworks here where I live contains sulfur, powdered charcoal and barium chlorate to green color fireworks, stroncium chlorate to red color fireworks and POTASSIUM CHLORATE to standard fireworks.

Read this part of the text that exists at wikipedia about potassium chlorate, and sodium chlorate in gunpowder manufacturing in portuguese (I'm translating to english):

https://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clorato_de_pot%C3%A1ssio

"When mixed with other materials, it may form high explosives. The hygroscopic and slightly weaker sodium chlorate is sometimes used as a safer and less expensive substitute for potassium chlorate. In World War II, mixtures of potassium chlorate with plasticizers (such as waxes) were the most common type of plastic explosives used, often filling grenades and other ammunition. When used in explosives as an oxidant, the explosive is classifiable as "low" because of its characteristic of rapidly burning more than it actually explodes. When mixed with a plasticizer, it becomes a "high explosive", requiring a detonation capsule to detonate properly. Potassium chlorate is also used in some gunpowder formulas, usually replacing the less potent potassium nitrate."
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Herr Haber
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[*] posted on 21-5-2019 at 03:05


Quote: Originally posted by Chemi Pharma  

You're absolutely wrong!

I Challenge you to show here to us any study or research telling about "the mixture of sodium chlorate and sulfur are known to self-ignite during storage", like you've said.

I made this mixture over more than 5 years and none incident occurred. i've used it in a lot of pyrotechnical events, even in the school and outside, in artists presentations. Even storing for more than one year the powder, I hadn't any accident. The only incident that occurs were when I mixtured Ammonium nitrate to it, and it got self ignited after one month, but not before I felt a strong smell of hydrazine in the mixture, became worried and stored it away apart from other chemicals inside a safe steel cabinet alone. Cause this the fire in that ocasion were quickly controlled. It looks like ammonium nitrate reduced itself in contact with sulfur to some kind of hydrazine compound, cause I recognize that smell anywhere, and this make the mixture unstable. Because this I don't recommend make gunpowder with ammonium nitrate either.


Oh - my - god !
ANY book on fireworks will teach you that you are wrong.
Not just a series of I, I, I, I did, I tried. Real experience over centuries, not just your lucky experience.

Sulphur and chlorates self ignite. That's a fact. Especially prone to auto-ignition if there is residual acidity in your Sulphur.
Ammonium Nitrate and a Chlorate heh ? Check Ammonium Chlorate, that's what you got. No hydrazine.

I'll skip the rest and STRONGLY recommend you get Shimizu's and Conklin's books.
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[*] posted on 21-5-2019 at 03:18


Quote: Originally posted by Chemi Pharma  
Just to prove my point of view, against the fact sulfur and potassium chlorate combination don't be self-ignited expontaneously, I bring the example of the matchboxes.

The tip of Match has : potassium chlorate (an oxidant), sulfur, starch, glue and some other ingredients, like antimony pentasulfide;

The friction Surface has : red phosphorus, powdered glass, and glue.



Ever heard of strike anywhere matches ?
https://www.99boulders.com/why-ill-never-buy-strike-anywhere...

Look, forget it, you're just wrong. Only a limited number of factories in China are still using chlorates and I may be wrong but fireworks containing a chlorate and sulphur are forbidden in most countries.

Edit: and stop using the word gunpowder for mixes that arent gunpowder !

[Edited on 21-5-2019 by Herr Haber]
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[*] posted on 21-5-2019 at 06:35


Quote: Originally posted by Chemi Pharma  
Just to prove my point of view, against the fact sulfur and potassium chlorate combination don't be self-ignited expontaneously, I bring the example of the matchboxes.

The tip of Match has : potassium chlorate (an oxidant), sulfur, starch, glue and some other ingredients, like antimony pentasulfide;


Nice example, admiteddly, they apparently do indeed contain sulfur and chlorate.
BTW, IIRC, bans on chlorate-containing matches are being considered in the EU.

However, you oversimplify the composition with "and some other ingredients".

Those "other ingredients" make a huge difference. Wikipedia actually says:
Quote:
"the match head is typically composed of 45–55% potassium chlorate, with a little sulfur and starch, a neutralizer (ZnO or CaCO3), 20–40% of siliceous filler, diatomite, and glue.


So, there is only a little sulfur, and it contains a neutralizer.
The purpose of the neutralizer is to react with trace amounts of acid that may have been present in the sulfur, or form as a result of a reaction with air.

As Morgan noted, the trace amounts of acid that are often present in sulfur very likely play an important role here.
Using acid-free sulfur , and the addition of compounds that can neutralize residual acid will help to stabilize mixtures with chlorates and sulfur if there is no other option.

Quote:

"detonation capsule to detonate properly. Potassium chlorate is also used in some gunpowder formulas, usually replacing the less potent potassium nitrate."


That does not mean that those formulas contain sulfur.
Mixtures of just chlorates and charcoal have been called 'gunpowder' in older texts and some languages.
I don't speak Portugese, and I believe that in modern English pyrotechnic literature, the term 'gunpowder' is understood to refer to mixtures of nitrate, charcoal and (optionally) sulfur.

[Edited on 21-5-2019 by phlogiston]




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[*] posted on 21-5-2019 at 10:10


Quote: Originally posted by Herr Haber  
Oh - my - god !
ANY book on fireworks will teach you that you are wrong.
Not just a series of I, I, I, I did, I tried. Real experience over centuries, not just your lucky experience.

Sulphur and chlorates self ignite. That's a fact. Especially prone to auto-ignition if there is residual acidity in your Sulphur.
Ammonium Nitrate and a Chlorate heh ? Check Ammonium Chlorate, that's what you got. No hydrazine.

I'll skip the rest and STRONGLY recommend you get Shimizu's and Conklin's books.


Between your literature reviews and my 10 years of practical experience I choose the last one, thanks.:P I gave you an example of stabilized potassium chlorate mixed with sulfur in the match boxes. Good to know the matter is the acidity of the sulfur employed that must be neutralized. I didn't know about that, the same way you don't know that commercial security match boxes are made with potassium chlorate + sulfur + blah, blah, blah, not only in China, but worldwide.

Read the @phlogiston comment, after yours. I think it was very instructive and more argumentative that your comment.

And about ammonium nitrate mixed with GUNPOWDER made with sodium chlorate, sulfur and charcoal giving hydrazine, it was confirmed a lot of times by me. I know the smell of ClO2 and know better yet the smell of hydrazine, cause have done experiences with it in my Lab over and over in the last 10 years.

I don't know why you are trying to mock me. It's perfectable viable. NH4+ have the nitrogen in the state -3 and can be oxidized to state -2 as hydrazine, before be oxidated to state 0, under the form of N2, more stable. In this case the Chlorate ion will be the oxidant agent. I have no idea about the equations involved, but that mixture smells like hydrazine, after some days. I'm sure of that.

Why don't you do an controlled experience?

12% sulfur;
13% powered charcoal;
50% sodium chlorate;
25% ammonium nitrate.

Mix in small scale, put in a plastic container, not a metal one, and let rest for a week or two, before the mixture self ignited. Sometimes open the flask and sniff. If you're acquainted with hydrazine smell, you will see I'm telling the truth.
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[*] posted on 21-5-2019 at 14:59


Quote: Originally posted by Chemi Pharma  


Between your literature reviews and my 10 years of practical experience I choose the last one, thanks.:P I gave you an example of stabilized potassium chlorate mixed with sulfur in the match boxes.

Read the @phlogiston comment, after yours. I think it was very instructive and more argumentative that your comment.


Ok look, I have 0 years of experience as a professional but I learned the formula of gunpowder 30 years ago. Believe me when I tell you I knew about matches. Probably as a lot of people interested in pyro the first binder I discovered was acacia gum for my home made gunpowder.

I'm sure you have thought of another use for chlorates + sulphur: smoke. Add lactose, your favourite dye a hint of CaCO3 or NaHCO3 (to neutralize acids from S) which will give additional gas to spread your smoke.
Chlorate (K) is prefered because of it's low decomposition point which means it wont need a very energetic fuel (S as a tinder lactose as a main fuel) to sustain combustion. Which means you can have a low temperature flame and vaporize your dye instead of burning it.


Quote: Originally posted by Chemi Pharma  

And about ammonium nitrate mixed with GUNPOWDER made with sodium chlorate, sulfur and charcoal giving hydrazine, it was confirmed a lot of times by me. I know the smell of ClO2 and know better yet the smell of hydrazine, cause have done experiences with it in my Lab over and over in the last 10 years.

I don't know why you are trying to mock me. It's perfectable viable. NH4+ have the nitrogen in the state -3 and can be oxidized to state -2 as hydrazine, before be oxidated to state 0, under the form of N2, more stable. In this case the Chlorate ion will be the oxidant agent. I have no idea about the equations involved, but that mixture smells like hydrazine, after some days. I'm sure of that.

Why don't you do an controlled experience?

12% sulfur;
13% powered charcoal;
50% sodium chlorate;
25% ammonium nitrate.

Mix in small scale, put in a plastic container, not a metal one, and let rest for a week or two, before the mixture self ignited. Sometimes open the flask and sniff. If you're acquainted with hydrazine smell, you will see I'm telling the truth.


I have no doubt I can make mixtures that will self ignite.
I'll stick to the tried and tested for my safety and the safety of those around me and I'd rather avoid making a composition that gives off anything more than solvent vapours too. I'd have the hairs standing on the back of my neck if anything I made smelled of something as reactive as hydrazine!
There have been a lot of substitutes for gunpowder with many names in many languages. It's confusing to use the name gunpowder for some mixtures that saw limited or little use (though ammonium nitrate was used).

Make sure you get a copy of Conking's book it's a great read really.
Now I'm going to sleep.
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[*] posted on 21-5-2019 at 17:23


Quote: Originally posted by Chemi Pharma  

Between your literature reviews and my 10 years of practical experience I choose the last one, thanks.


Concensus seems to be that you have been lucky in your experience -- maybe due to the grade of sulfur being used. I think it unwise to ignore the advice of so many seasoned members who have both citations and experience to support their claims.
Speaking as one who recently had an unexpected chlorate explosion causing injury, I can only advise caution even if your experience has been good so far.

It would be nice to return to the question of the OP now: good classroom experiments and demos to do with sulfur.




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[*] posted on 22-5-2019 at 06:37


Quote: Originally posted by beeludwig  
Hey guys,

The previous science teacher left a giant jar of sulfur. The stuff is pretty cheap, not sure what to do with it. Any cool ideas you think my students would enjoy?


How giant is the jar? And is it plastic/ glass/ etc?
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[*] posted on 22-5-2019 at 06:46


the reason I'm curious about the sulfur is that my previous chemistry teacher literally had a giant jar of it; a disused plastic container that used to house protein powder was now just totally filled with sulfur, the thing was the size of a large artillery casing. This was in Vancouver, BC. Is any of that familiar? I know the odds are impossibly low but a coincidence like that would be considerably funny to me.

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[*] posted on 22-5-2019 at 10:25


Quote: Originally posted by Daffodile  
the reason I'm curious about the sulfur is that my previous chemistry teacher literally had a giant jar of it; a disused plastic container that used to house protein powder was now just totally filled with sulfur, the thing was the size of a large artillery casing. This was in Vancouver, BC. Is any of that familiar? I know the odds are impossibly low but a coincidence like that would be considerably funny to me.



Nah. Different guy but sounds like he had the same problem. My jar of sulfur looks relatively recent and was purchased from a chemical supply company. So far I've made some really pretty crystals with it, shown my students the blue flame, and the plastic allotrope. Next year I'd like to do more. I'm considering making fome Iron sulfide because it has some nice optical properties. Maybe I'll do a metal sulfide series. I really haven't thought too much about it. But I liked some of the ideas others have come up with. Right now I'm amusing myself by putting some in a petri dish with a *GIANT SIGN* that says do not smell. Because... you know... kids.
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[*] posted on 22-5-2019 at 11:19


If you have CS2 you might want to burn a few drops next to your burning sulphur for comparison.

Perhaps if you make sulfides you'll make some H2S. The stinking bomb thing is guaranteed to get attention! It might be nice to mention thiols and other smelly compounds in class before burning some sulphur containing material everyone knows about like... hair or feathers ? Scientifically questionable but your students will remember that sulphur = smelly compounds. It could be the right time to talk about sulphur and rubber at that point ?

You could also show on the periodic table Se, Te mention that the analog compounds are even worst smelling (dig up that story about a town being evacuated when someone made experiments with Te in Germany or people commiting suicide because no one would go near them anymore).

If your students are smart and made the link H2S --> H2Se ---> H2Te you can finish with a classical joke:
Can you now guess why ET's will never come to our planet ?
70% H2O :P
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[*] posted on 22-5-2019 at 18:19


Glow in the Dark Powder Materials
The recommended materials for this project are:

Oyster shells – Oyster shells may be obtained from a beach, pet store, or feed store. If you absolutely can’t find them, substitute egg shells with the inner membrane removed.
Sulfur powder – Sulfur is found in chemistry kits and online.
Heat-safe dish or borosilicate tube – I recommend using a piece of aluminum foil on a heat-safe surface.
Sifter or strainer – You can use any kind of mesh to separate large and small particles.
Mortar and pestle – Or you can use a hammer and a bag.
Butane or MAPP torch – Find this at a hardware store.

https://sciencenotes.org/make-glow-dark-powder-oyster-shells...

[Edited on 23-5-2019 by Morgan]
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[*] posted on 22-5-2019 at 22:54


If you have some Se, besides the sulphur, you could make some SxSe8-x by heating sulphur in a test tube and then adding a tiny pinch of Se to it. The Se dissolves in the sulphur and gives a red or orasnge color to it. On cooling down you get a definitely different color and the product contains molecules Z8, with most Z-atoms being sulphur but some replaced with Se. Suplhur and selenium can form mixed 8-membered rings easily.



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[*] posted on 22-5-2019 at 22:59


Quote: Originally posted by woelen  
If you have some Se, besides the sulphur, you could make some SxSe8-x by heating sulphur in a test tube and then adding a tiny pinch of Se to it. The Se dissolves in the sulphur and gives a red or orasnge color to it. On cooling down you get a definitely different color and the product contains molecules Z8, with most Z-atoms being sulphur but some replaced with Se. Suplhur and selenium can form mixed 8-membered rings easily.

I may just have to do this. It would work well with some videos that I am planning.
Might need a bit more selenium than I have at present.




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[*] posted on 23-5-2019 at 04:49


Quote: Originally posted by j_sum1  
Quote: Originally posted by woelen  
If you have some Se, besides the sulphur, you could make some SxSe8-x by heating sulphur in a test tube and then adding a tiny pinch of Se to it. The Se dissolves in the sulphur and gives a red or orasnge color to it. On cooling down you get a definitely different color and the product contains molecules Z8, with most Z-atoms being sulphur but some replaced with Se. Suplhur and selenium can form mixed 8-membered rings easily.

I may just have to do this. It would work well with some videos that I am planning.
Might need a bit more selenium than I have at present.


I'm not even sure where I'd find selenium. It seems fairly fairly expensive.
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[*] posted on 23-5-2019 at 05:06


https://www.ebay.com/itm/10-Grams-99-99-Pure-Selenium-Metal-...
https://www.ebay.com/itm/50-grams-1-76-oz-High-Purity-99-8-5...
http://onyxmet.com/?route=product/category&path=69_100

There ya go!




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[*] posted on 23-5-2019 at 07:33


Zn+S is spectactular, and also allows you to make the point that sulfur can act as an oxidiser much like oxygen can.



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[*] posted on 23-5-2019 at 08:59


Quote: Originally posted by phlogiston  
Zn+S is spectactular, and also allows you to make the point that sulfur can act as an oxidiser much like oxygen can.


I've seen the reaction on youtube. I'll have to make some zinc powder and give it a try. Time to dust off my electrochemistry
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[*] posted on 23-5-2019 at 13:52


Quote: Originally posted by beeludwig  
Quote: Originally posted by phlogiston  
Zn+S is spectactular, and also allows you to make the point that sulfur can act as an oxidiser much like oxygen can.


I've seen the reaction on youtube. I'll have to make some zinc powder and give it a try. Time to dust off my electrochemistry

Here's my version.
https://youtu.be/SYucLGUr2MQ?t=167




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[*] posted on 23-5-2019 at 16:33


Just so you guys know, my wife is exceedingly pleased that the longest part of this thread involved whether or not a reaction was really safe and how to make it safe. Apparently, I’m often told, being married to a chemistry teacher is not easy.
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