Friday, October 31, 2014

On Halloween, a little science goes a long way

Halloween doesn’t need to be all about ghouls and goblins. In fact, it can be all about science. Here are 3 tricks to make this Halloween a science treat:

Put dry ice on center stage
            Dry ice is actually frozen carbon dioxide, which makes it an extra fun tool for special Halloween effects. As it melts, it immediately turns to CO2 vapor. Use this trick to make your jack o lantern ooze white smoke, or to carbonate a bowl of punch.
1)    Place a cup of warm water inside your jack o lantern. Using tongs or gloves, drop a piece of dry ice in the water and stand back as the vapor pours out of the pumpkin’s mouth.
2)    Drop a few pieces of dry ice into a bowl of punch. The punch will bubble and gurgle until the ice is gone, leaving behind a carbonated drink.

Photo courtesy of

Make your own lava lamp
            Supplies:         1 bottle vegetable oil
                                    Alka Seltzer
                                    A plastic or glass jar, with lid
Use the polar properties of oil and water to make a quick and easy lava lamp. Fill the jar ¼ full with water. Fill the rest with oil. Add a few drops of food coloring and then toss in half a tab of Alka Selzter. The colored water will form droplets as the Alka Seltzer pushes them into the vegetable oil. These droplets will bounce up and down in the oil while the Alka Seltzer works its magic.

Make your Jack o Lantern glow like a rainbow
            Supplies:         hand sanitizer
                                    Boric acid (or Borax, both available at hardware stores)
                                    1 carved pumpkin

Rub the hand sanitizer on the outside and inside of the carved pumpkin, and then dust with the boric acid or Borax.

Place the pumpkin on a fire-safe surface and then light it with a match. A rainbow of colors will dance across the pumpkin’s surface. Here’s why:

The alcohol in the hand sanitizer turns the flame blue. The boric acid makes it green. Sodium in the pumpkin flesh tints it yellow, and the hollowed out pumpkin glows orange. Wa-la! Rainbow flaming jack o lantern.

The flame will die out fast, thanks to the alcohol.

By Manasseh Franklin


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