The Pharoah's Serpent -- Mercury Thiocyanate


(YouTube Link)


The Pharaoh's Serpent is a traditional pyrotechnic and chemical display in which mercury thiocyanate is set on fire, producing what looks like a very rapidly growing vine. It has since fallen out of favor due to the toxicity of mercury, but sodium bicarbonate produces a similar effect. The video above is a demonstration of this visually stunning chemical reaction.

via Urlesque

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Here are instructions for making Sodium Bicarb snakes. Looks like they aren't quite as awesome as the old, toxic ones.

http://chemistry.about.com/od/chemistryhowtoguide/a/blacksnakes.htm

We used to make a big pile of the old ones and light them all at once. With enough tablets, you could crack a sidewalk. God knows what the fumes were doing to us.
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