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'Fireflies' in an erlenmeyer

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Published on Oct 27, 2014

SAFETY:
- Work in a fumehood or outside, isolated from the ground.
- Ammonium dichromate is a verified carcinogen. Avoid contact.
- Concentrated ammonia is corrosive and gives off an awful, pungent smell. Avoid contact and don't breathe in the fumes.
- This reaction produces several chromium(VI) compounds. These are very bad for the environment and all are carcinogenic. Be very careful when cleaning up your fumehood.

HOW TO:
- Pour a small layer of concentrated ammonia(25%) in a large container(e.g. an erlenmeyer).
- Close it off with a watch glass and swirl the liquid around a few times.
- Take a spatula of ammonium dichromate and heat it up for a few seconds with a burner.
- Quickly take the watch glass off the erlenmeyer and swirl the 'burning' dichromate around in the erlenmeyer. Close the erlenmeyer afterwards.
- Observe the 'fireflies' in your erlenmeyer.

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