Simple home experiments with nitrous oxide

Nitrous oxide, or laughing gas as it is commonly known is a popular gas that is used in the manufacture of fertilizer as well as in a number of different other synthetic activities. Even though the primary uses of nitrous oxide are industrial, it can be easily produced by a simple laboratory experiment. Nitrous oxide is produced when ammonium nitrate is heated slowly between temperatures ranging from 170 degrees Celsius to 240 degrees Celsius, at which point various nitrogen oxides are released, including nitrous oxide, nitrogen monoxide and nitric oxide. There are various different experiments that can be carried out with nitrogen oxide. Here are a few experiments that can be done with nitrous oxide:

Forming explosive mixtures with hydrogen

Nitrous oxide can be used to re-ignite a glowing splint, and this is a very small scale experiment that can be carried out in your school laboratory too. If you want to create an experiment in order to reignite a glowing splint, what you need is to get 50% hydrogen as well as 50% nitrous oxide in a single test tube. The next thing to do is to use a very dilute (three percent) solution of soap and pass the gas through that mixture. When you light fire in the mixture, a miniature explosion will occur, resulting in the transfer of energy from one state to another.

Reigniting a glowing splint using nitrous oxide

Nitrous oxide can also be used to reignite a glowing splint. It is common knowledge that fire is highly combustible in the presence of oxygen, hence if a glowing splint is placed in a chamber full of oxygen, it is going to relight the end of the splint. However, apart from oxygen, the only other gas that has the capability of relighting a glowing splint is nitrous oxide.  If you put nitrous oxide in a test tube, and then put in a glowing splint in to that test tube, the glowing splint will relight the glowing splint. This is a very simple experiment that can even be tried out at home.

Creating a Hydrogen- Nitrous Oxide Rocket

Creating a hydrogen- nitrous oxide based rocket is simple and easy. Take a syringe and then put in around 20 mL of hydrogen and 20 mL of nitrous oxide in it. Using a pipet, displace some water and then place the pipet on top of a piezoelectric sparker. When you ignite the gas mixture inside after replacing some of the water, you will see that a loud bang will occur and the ‘rocket’ will fly over a distance of more than ten meters. Likewise, the same rocket can be created using a mixture of methane and nitrous oxide.