• Question: what is the worst chemical reaction you have seen

    Asked by Aj to Gavin, Karen, Mark, Michel, Roisin on 8 Nov 2016.
    • Photo: Michel Destrade

      Michel Destrade answered on 8 Nov 2016:

      I would have to say lemon juice in milk!

    • Photo: Karen

      Karen answered on 9 Nov 2016:

      To be honest I can’t think of any that were particularly bad in my professional life…as all the reactions that take place in my lab are very controlled and usually occurs inside an analyser…however, when I was small my brother got a chemistry set for Christmas…added pretty much everything in the kit together and it exploded in the kitchen…luckily no brothers were harmed in the experiment ? However no matter how many times my parents painted the kitchen ceiling, yellow splodges were always visible through it…

    • Photo: Mark Kennedy

      Mark Kennedy answered on 9 Nov 2016:

      We use diet coke and Mentos in our outreach projects the whole time.

      Actually, this is kind of cheating – the reaction of diet coke and Mentos is a physical reaction. But it’s still awesome.

    • Photo: Roisin Jones

      Roisin Jones answered on 13 Nov 2016:

      There are a lot of competitors for this one, as I’ve done a lot of chemical reactions! However, there are a few that spring to mind:

      – There’s a reaction that I do that’s orange/brown in colour and when it works, the product crashes out as a lumpy solid that swirls around in the solution, and it honestly looks like vomit!

      – I’ve seen someone add zinc chloride to a glass container that had a strong base in it, and it reacted so strongly that it overheated the container and caused it to shatter.

      – This is a little bit cheating because it’s not ‘seeing’ per se, but I work in a lab with someone who works with a lot of smelly compounds, and he has a reaction that makes something that smells like raw sewage, which is fairly revolting!