Thursday, 19 March 2015

Steel Wool & Vinegar Reaction

Soak steel wool in vinegar and watch what happens as the iron in the steel begins to react with the oxygen around it. This fun science experiment for kids is great for learning about chemical reactions.
What you'll need:
  • Steel Wool
  • Vinegar
  • Two beakers
  • Paper or a lid (something to cover the beaker to keep the heat in)
  • Thermometer

  1. Place the steel wool in a beaker.
  2. Pour vinegar on to the steel wool and allow it to soak in the vinegar for around one minute.
  3. Remove the steel wool and drain any excess vinegar.
  4. Wrap the steel wool around the base of the thermometer and place them both in the second beaker.
  5. Cover the beaker with paper or a lid to keep the heat in (make sure you can still read the temperature on the thermometer, having a small hole in the paper or lid for the thermometer to go through is a good idea).
  6. Check the initial temperature and then monitor it for around five minutes.

What's happening?
The temperature inside the beaker should gradually rise, you might even notice the beaker getting foggy. When you soak the steel wool in vinegar it removes the protective coating of the steel wool and allows the iron in the steel to rust. Rusting (or oxidation) is a chemical reaction between iron and oxygen, this chemical reaction creates heat energy which increases the temperature inside the beaker. This experiment is an example of an exothermic reaction, a chemical reaction that releases energy in the form of heat.