My students and I intend to use a high-speed camera to film a variety of chemistry experiments in slow motion. The first reaction we have decided to film is the “Whoosh Bottle”. You can read more about this particular experiment in an article in Journal of Chemical Education here. NOTE: Only trained chemists familiar with the hazards associated with this demonstration should perform it. Before discussing the filming of this reaction, we’d like to extend an invitation to the ChemEd Xchange community to suggest various chemistry experiments to film with our high speed camera. There are several chemical reactions that we plan on filming in slow motion (especially the thermite reaction!), but I am sure that some of you have some interesting ideas as well. Please share your ideas with us, and we’ll work on filming some of these reactions and posting them on the ChemEd Xchange site.
Okay, now back to the Whoosh Bottle. In this classic chemistry demonstration, a small volume of alcohol (usually methanol, ethanol or isopropanol) is placed into a plastic container such as a gallon milk jug or 2L soda bottle. We used methanol as the fuel in our experiments. The container is sealed, and the bottle is shaken to allow alcohol vapor to fill the container. After shaking, the container is placed on the floor, the seal is removed and the vapor is ignited. What happens next? Check out the video below to find out!
After viewing these videos we decided to repeat the experiment but focus more on the flames being ejected from the Whoosh Bottle:
Viewing the Whoosh Bottle reaction in slow motion has brought a number of questions and thoughts to mind. For example, we are wondering what similarities and differences we will see if we use isopropanol instead of methanol as the fuel for the Whoosh Bottle. This is because isopropanol tends to combust differently than methanol. You can learn more about the differences in the combustion of these alcohols in the video below.
Now that you know a bit more about incomplete and complete combustion, view the Whoosh Bottle videos again. You should be able to differentiate regions of the flame where complete or incomplete combustion is taking place.
What questions do you have about the Whoosh Bottle after viewing it in slow motion? Do you have any ideas for Whoosh Bottle experiments to film in slow motion? Do you have any suggestions for chemistry demonstrations other than the Whoosh Bottle to film in slow motion? Please share your ideas with us, and we will try to get some of your ideas filmed and posted on this site!
Thanks go out to Kamal Ghazi and Nathan Ford for helping to film the Whoosh Bottle experiment in slow motion.