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2H2O2 → 2H2O(l) + O2(g)
October 26, 2012 1:45 PM   Subscribe

What do you get when you mix hydrogen peroxide, iodine and dishsoap? Elephant's Toothpaste (or Elefantenzahnpasta, if you prefer German). Many more class experiments from the 2nd link here.

Wiki explanation: "Concentrated hydrogen peroxide is first mixed with liquid soap. Then a catalyst is added to make the hydrogen peroxide break down very quickly. Hydrogen peroxide breaks down into oxygen and water. As a small amount of hydrogen peroxide generates a large volume of oxygen, the oxygen quickly pushes out of the container. The soapy water traps the oxygen, creating bubbles, and turns into foam. Often some food coloring is added before the catalyst, which makes the resulting column of foam look even more like toothpaste."
posted by growabrain (26 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
That was both amazing and terrifying. Would there be a way of gimmicking some ordinary-looking dirty dishes (a glass, perhaps) to play this on a friend?
posted by Strange Interlude at 1:56 PM on October 26, 2012


In the US, possession of large quantities of Iodine is likely to have the DEA showing up through your door at 4 AM.

Be careful.
posted by MikeWarot at 1:56 PM on October 26, 2012


Some really cool videos, thanks for the link!

[Also: I am not a safety freak, but I am still disturbed by the lack of safety goggles in some of the videos.]
posted by swordfishtrombones at 2:08 PM on October 26, 2012


Yes, because getting soap in your eye hurts like a bitch.
posted by phunniemee at 2:10 PM on October 26, 2012


In the US, possession of large quantities of Iodine is likely to have the DEA showing up through your door at 4 AM.

Huh, really? What is it used in the manufacture of?
posted by Greg Nog at 2:17 PM on October 26, 2012


Actually, the DEA is just cracking down on grandpas who have no qualms about cleaning kids' wounds with stingy, burny hell-liquid ("it'll put hair on your chest!"). This madness has got to end.
posted by phunniemee at 2:19 PM on October 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Huh, really? What is it used in the manufacture of?

Meth. The most common meth synthesis uses iodine and red phosphorous.
posted by DecemberBoy at 2:22 PM on October 26, 2012


Oh! Neat! It's amazing how little I've really learned from Breaking Bad.
posted by Greg Nog at 2:27 PM on October 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Elephant's toothpaste is really cool, but it is sadly hard to get a hold of iodine any more. I blame Walter White.

A similar amount of fun can be found in the black snake. This used to be one of my favourites, when I did science demos. A better explanation, including a fantastic example of science hair is found in the great University of Nottingham video series.
posted by bonehead at 2:28 PM on October 26, 2012


Well actually, the reason Heisenberg's meth is so good is it doesn't use the pseudoephedrine/iodine/red phosphorous method. He even makes fun of Jesse's "chili powder" meth which does.
posted by DecemberBoy at 2:29 PM on October 26, 2012


The iodine/phosphorus route is used in the first season when they cook in the camper. Walt makes his first kill in the pilot with red phosphorus fumes. Freaking nasty way to go.
posted by bonehead at 2:34 PM on October 26, 2012


I would really love to try this at home. Are the ingredients really that hard to get? I'm assuming the H2O2 might also be difficult, because of it's rocketry uses.
posted by bashos_frog at 3:03 PM on October 26, 2012


My dad was a veterinarian specializing in horses. He used to apply solid iodine to the hooves of horses with laminitis then drip some liquid on. The result was a spectacular and beautiful purple cloud of iodine vapor, and the theory was that the iodine was pushed into the cracks of the hoof as a cure.

I've sadly forgotten and despite experiment have not re-discovered what the liquid was, so if anyone has clues please share. I want to do it again! (I'm aware of the health hazards, thanks.)
posted by anadem at 3:14 PM on October 26, 2012


Yes, because getting soap in your eye hurts like a bitch.

The main reactant here is usually 30% H202. You really do not want that in any eyeball you intend to keep.
posted by eriko at 4:00 PM on October 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


He used to apply solid iodine to the hooves of horses with laminitis then drip some liquid on. The result was a spectacular and beautiful purple cloud of iodine vapor,...

This was in one of Herriott's vet books too (I forget whch one). I seem to remember the liquid was turpentine.
posted by phliar at 4:22 PM on October 26, 2012


phliar: "This was in one of Herriott's vet books too (I forget whch one). I seem to remember the liquid was turpentine."

Yes, I thought of that immediately. It was in If Only They Could Talk, republished as part of All Creatures Great and Small.
He placed a few crystals of resublimated iodine on a glass dish and added a drop of turpentine. Nothing happened for a second then a dense cloud of purple smoke rolled heavily to the ceiling. He gave a great bellow of laughter at my startled face.

"Like witchcraft, isn't it? I use it for wounds in horses' feet. The chemical reaction drives the iodine deep into the tissues." "It does?" "Well, I don't know, but that's the theory, and anyway, you must admit it looks wonderful. Impresses the toughest client."
posted by Chrysostom at 4:30 PM on October 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Neat stuff! And, damn, German is one of the coolest sounding languages.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 4:36 PM on October 26, 2012


phliar: "This was in one of Herriott's vet books too (I forget whch one). I seem to remember the liquid was turpentine."

That's what I thought too (turpentine, that is) but it didn't do the trick.

(For the record, my dad was the real 'Seigfried' of the Herriott books)
posted by anadem at 5:10 PM on October 26, 2012 [12 favorites]


Carrying things full circle, might this be it? The liquid is α-pinene, which is a constituent of turpentine.
posted by wanderingmind at 5:22 PM on October 26, 2012


I'm assuming the H2O2 might also be difficult, because of it's rocketry uses.

That's high-test peroxide, 85%+ concentrated, and you do not want to go anywhere near that stuff.

You can do this with 6-12% concentration peroxide pretty effectively, which is moderately easy to find. You may see this as 20-40 "volume" peroxide. 30% isn't hard to get.
posted by eriko at 5:30 PM on October 26, 2012


Jeez, I have trouble buying 98% isopropyl alcohol these days. Just forget 100%.
posted by charlie don't surf at 5:59 PM on October 26, 2012


anadem: (For the record, my dad was the real 'Seigfried' of the Herriott books)

OK, the elephant toothpaste video was very neat, but to me, THAT is the coolest thing in this thread! (I read and re-read James Herriot's books obsessively as a child.)
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 6:09 PM on October 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


DecemberBoy writes "Well actually, the reason Heisenberg's meth is so good is it doesn't use the pseudoephedrine/iodine/red phosphorous method. He even makes fun of Jesse's "chili powder" meth which does."

It's not a riff on the colour, Jesse actually puts chilli powder in his product as a form of branding.
posted by Mitheral at 6:56 PM on October 26, 2012


Remember to buy the individual matchbooks, not the boxes. You get a lot more product.
posted by Justinian at 10:23 PM on October 26, 2012


(For the record, my dad was the real 'Seigfried' of the Herriott books)

WHAT.

You can't just drop that in here all casual-like and not give us large amounts of anecdotes immediately afterward, ahem.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 11:06 PM on October 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


(For the record, my dad was the real 'Seigfried' of the Herriott books)

May I echo all the WHAT's? That's magnificent!
posted by kalimac at 2:57 AM on October 27, 2012


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