How To: Make Copper Glow Red Hot with Acetone

Make Copper Glow Red Hot with Acetone

In this video, I will show you how to make copper glow red hot with the catalytic oxidation of acetone. For this science experiment, we'll just need some acetone, copper wire, and a flame source to initially heat the copper coil we'll make.

Materials Needed

  • Pure acetone
  • Copper wire
  • Fire

What's Going On

Copper catalyzes the oxidation of Acetone to acetaldehyde, carbon dioxide, and water.

  • CH3COCH3 (g) + 3/2O2(g) --> CH3CHO(g) + CO2(g) + H2O(g)

First, copper is oxidized to copper oxide with heat, then it transfers this oxygen to acetone returning to its metallic form.

In the next reaction with acetone, the copper surface becomes bright because of the transfer of the oxygen and begins to glow red hot because of the energy that's released from the reaction.

Gases have been shown by infrared spectroscopy to mostly consist of carbon dioxide and water. Other sources suggest that the reaction also produces toxic ketene and methane gas in small amounts and should be performed in a fume hood or well-ventilated area.

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