A Safer "Rainbow Flame" Demo for the Classroom



Demo instructions available here:
http://www.acs.org/content/dam/acsorg/about/governance/committees/chemicalsafety/safetypractices/flame-tests-demonstration.pdf
(note: this demonstration does not require barium chloride, which is toxic — the video demonstration does not include this compound)

A C&EN infographic on the demo is available here: http://cenm.ag/labdemo

A chemistry demonstration commonly known as the “rainbow flame” experiment has resulted in a number of serious injuries in classrooms in recent years. The experiment is meant to show how various metal salt solutions can create flames of different colors, but it can be unsafe if teachers use highly flammable solvents like methanol or ethanol in the procedure. To prevent future injuries, the American Chemical Society (ACS) Committee on Safety recommends that rainbow flame experiments involving flammable solvents be discontinued immediately. In this new video, Kim Duncan and James Kessler of the ACS Education Division demonstrate a much safer alternative using the same metal salts dissolved in water (rather than in ethanol or methanol).

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