0
$\begingroup$

Apologies for the question which is far below the brilliance of the minds on this page. I have an A-Level in Organic Chemistry but I'm tying myself in knots with this one.

I'm a magician looking to create a Russian Roulette effect with water and acid (sort of!) the actual secret is that both solutions are water.

Is there a readily available metal; or substance that looks like metal, that would make the water behave like an acid to convince an onlooker that it is a potentially life threatening acid.

As a bonus question – is there a way to cheat the litmus test so that one solution (also water!) turns it red, the other reacting neutrally (that's the easy one!)?

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I wonder if a low dilution of something like acetic acid or citric acid would do the trick. It won’t give you a pH 1 solution, but with the typical universal indicators on pH paper you would be well into the acidic range. $\endgroup$ – Jan Dec 16 '18 at 16:27
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Thanks Jan, that's not a bad idea. I'm leaning towards using a classic magicians switch to substitute a piece of litmus paper with a pre-dyed red strip, so that the water just moistens the paper to create a more convincing effect. Obviously alkali metals are not readily available so thinking an effervescent tablet made to look metallic might be good substitute. $\endgroup$ – Bill Ryan Dec 16 '18 at 18:46
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ How are you going to convince your auditorium that this "acid" is dangerous? You cannot dissolve an earthworm or a bank note in water. ;-) $\endgroup$ – Karl Dec 16 '18 at 20:12
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Magicians are expert liars :D $\endgroup$ – Bill Ryan Dec 16 '18 at 20:19
  • $\begingroup$ It is possible to obtain a small sample of sodium or potassium metal from a university - the reaction is violent in water. For the acid part, you could use acetone and packing peanuts dissolve easily in them to show that everything will dissolve in 'acid'! $\endgroup$ – suse Dec 21 '18 at 3:22
5
$\begingroup$

If you are using water alone, then sodium lead alloy reacts as sodium would but, with the lead added, it's much safer. But you can have a wider variety of options if, as the comments suggest, you use a dilute acid like vinegar (reacting that, for instance, with zinc). Wear eye protection no matter what you do.

$\endgroup$

Your Answer

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.