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How To Do the White Smoke Chemistry Demonstration

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The chemical reaction between hydrochloric acid and ammonia produces a white smoke.

The chemical reaction between hydrochloric acid and ammonia produces a white smoke consisting of ammonium chloride vapor.

Walkerma, Wikipedia Commons
React a jar of liquid and an apparently empty jar to make smoke. The white smoke chemistry demonstration is easy to perform and visually appealing.
Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: Minutes

Here's How:

  1. Pour a small volume of hydrochloric acid into one of the jars. Swirl it around to coat the jar, and pour the excess back into its container. Place a square of cardboard over the jar to cover it.
  2. Fill the second jar with ammonia. Cover it with the square of cardboard, which will now be separating the contents of the two containers.
  3. Invert the jars, so the ammonia is on top and the apparently empty jar is on the bottom.
  4. Hold the jars together and pull the cardboard away. Both jars should immediately fill with a cloud or 'smoke' of tiny ammonium chloride crystals.

Tips:

  1. Wear gloves and safety goggles and perform the demonstration in a fume hood. Both ammonia and hydrochloric acid can give nasty chemical burns. As always, observe safe lab procedure.

What You Need

  • Ammonia (NH3)
  • Hydrochloric Acid (HCl)
  • 2 clean glass jars, both the same size, about 250 ml
  • square of cardboard large enough to cover the mouth of the jar
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