One of the attractions of chemistry is to visualise surprising reactions where you can see phase and state changes of the components that are part of an experiment. Today, we will look at how to make instant snow in a simple chemical experiment where we will use non-toxic reagents and where we will be able to see an impressive final effect, with a kind of artificial snow that is quite eye-catching.
- Sodium polyacrylate.
- Water (preferably distilled).
- Glass container.
- Small plastic container.
Creating our instant snow
We start our experiment by thoroughly washing and drying our glass container. Then, we proceed to place some sodium polyacrylate and salt inside a small plastic container.
Once we have the mixture of solid reagents, we proceed to empty the contents of the plastic container into the large glass container.
Next, we add water until the glass container is about 3/4 full. Once this is done, we can see how the reaction starts inside the container and we will observe how a kind of flaky solid, similar to snow, starts to spill out of the opening of the glass container. After a few seconds, the reaction is complete and we can empty the contents of the container and examine our instant snow.
If we wish to dissolve our instant snowWe can do this by adding salt, which will break it down into its initial components.
How it works
Sodium polyacrylate is a substance that can usually be found in pharmacies. It is whitish, very similar in texture and colour to baking soda, completely odourless and non-toxic.
Sodium polyacrylate when mixed with common salt, in the presence of water, is able to absorb up to 20 times the weight of each grain with water. This is due to a property of sodium polyacrylate, which allows it to absorb moisture (hygroscopic compound), thus forming a new, very white and copious compound similar to the snow real.