How to Burn Potassium Nitrate

Remember to use safety equipment when performing chemical reactions.
••• flask image by Lemonade from Fotolia.com

Potassium nitrate, commonly known as saltpeter, is a chemical compound that is a solid at room temperature. By itself, it is not explosive, but it can create a highly explosive, exothermic reaction if in contact with reducing agents. That is why potassium nitrate is used commonly in fireworks and gunpowder and why it is critical to learn how to burn potassium nitrate safely.

    Put on safety goggles and gloves to ensure the highest level of safety. Put on a long-sleeve shirt. Due to the highly explosive nature of the reaction, you should cover all parts of your body.

    Place the potassium nitrate in the flask and place it on gentle heat. The potassium nitrate will not ignite by itself as it is an oxidizer and only provides an oxygen-rich environment so other compounds can ignite.

    Add a reducing agent to the flask. Examples of reducing agents include sulfur or charcoal-based compounds. Once heated, the potassium nitrate will produce enough oxygen for the reducing agent to react.

    Increase heat until a reaction takes place. The flame should burn a purple or lilac color due to the presence of potassium. The reaction may be explosive, so it is necessary to be cautious and aware of the reaction as it occurs.

    Wait for the reaction to stop. Once the reaction is finished, turn off the heat source and wait for the flask to cool down. Test the temperature of the flask by quickly touching it for a second. If it is not hot, remove the flask and dispose of the remaining chemicals properly.

    Things You'll Need

    • Flask
    • Heat source
    • Reducing agent
    • Safety goggles
    • Long-sleeve jacket
    • Gloves

    Tips

    • Clear the area around the heat source to make sure nothing is damaged during the reaction.

      Do not dump the chemicals down the drain. Always dispose of chemical compounds properly. You do not want to contaminate or pollute the environment after performing a chemical reaction.

    Warnings

    • Do not touch the flask while the reaction is under way. It will be extremely hot and should not be touched under any circumstances.

      Do not perform this reaction if there are other people around.

Related Articles

Extract Your Own DNA and More With These Awesome Science...
How to Make Polyethylene Fire Retardant
Can Oil & Oxygen Ignite without a Spark?
How to Mix Ammonia with Glycerine
What Happens When You Add Ammonium Nitrate to Water?
How to Make Acetate From Vinegar
How to Make 24K Gold
How to Make Glycerin From Vegetable Oil
How to Test for Hydrochloric Acid
What Is Activation Energy?
How to Extract Iodine From Potassium Iodide
How to Make a Supersaturated Solution of Copper-Sulfate
Hazards of Copper Sulfate
Uses for Potassium Perchlorate
How to Make a Pure Sample of Potassium
What Is Nadph in Photosynthesis?
How to Make Bromine Water in the Chemistry Lab
How to Reactivate a Desiccant
Potassium Nitrate Reaction Experiments
Name One Way to Decrease the Rate of Solvation