Richard Robinson

Kitchen Konjuring

The reaction of baking powder (bicarb) and vinegar is used as an example of an irreversible reaction.

The nature of atoms and molecules is touched on enough to explain the reaction – how a solid (bicarb) and a liquid (vinegar) combine to make a gas (carbon dioxide).

The reaction is acted out as a sort of wrestling match between the molecules.

Joseph Priestley’s early investigations of carbon dioxide seem like magic today – we do the experiment and see what we can learn about the gas. We see how Priestley’s experiments had a useful spin-off for us all – fizzy drinks! The nature and uses of acids as agents of chemical change; vinegar’s uses about the house, including an explanation of Jack and Jill’s “vinegar and brown paper”.

How red cabbage can turn strange colours with acids and alkalis. In contrast to the Carbon Dioxide magic, we finish by producing Oxygen.

Magic tricks

All tricks are self-working, and easy to do at home.

  • The Volcano Erupts – with vinegar and bicarb.
  • Big Bertha – a pop-gun from a bottle of pop.
  • Blow-up – a bottle blows up a party balloon.
  • Invisible Fire Extinguisher – CO2 snuffs a candle.
  • Fantastic Plastic – made with milk, vinegar and heat.
  • Fuss-Pots’ Party – acids, alkalis, indicators and a miracle.
  • Wibbly-Wobbly Egg – Eggshell dissolving with vinegar.
  • Money Laundering – cleaning coins with vinegar.
  • See O2 – make oxygen with liver and peroxide.