Science is Magic – The Black Snake



Lab Report:

We researched several different chemical reactions, but eventually settled on The Black Snake. We looked at the components to make sure it wasn’t dangerous, or at least not too dangerous. The Black Snake uses powdered sugar and sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) along with rubbing alcohol. These chemicals aren’t inherently bad, but alcohol fumes can be dangerous. Another danger is when lighting it on fire to commence the reaction, because fire can obviously be dangerous.

To make The Black Snake, you take 4 parts baking soda, and 1 part powdered sugar, and mix it together. Make a vessel out of preferably tinfoil filled with sand. Make a divot in the sand, and pour the mixture into it. Put rubbing alcohol around the edges of the mixture, and a little bit throughout the middle. Use a barbecue lighter to begin the reaction. A snake made of what looks like ash emerges from the white powder mixture. The snake is very light and airy because of gases produced during the experiment. The snake can grow quite long, but doesn’t always.

What is happening is the sugar C12H22O11 combusts and turns into carbon dioxide and water vapour, this decomposition forms the snake. The baking soda is added to help the experiment rise (2NaHCO3 → Na2CO3 + H2O + CO2), just like how it is used in baking. Reactions:

Sugar combusts into water vapour and carbon dioxide: С12H22O11 + 12O2 → 12CO2 + 11H2O

Decomposition into carbon and water vapour: С12H22O11 → 12C + 11H2O

Baking soda decomposes into carbon dioxide, water vapour, and sodium carbonate: 2NaHCO3 → Na2CO3 + CO2 + H2O

The outcome should be a carbon, black snake. It should be light, look and feel like ash, and should be quite delicate. The snake is not edible, you can touch it but it is not recommended. It can be very hot after burning. Best to do in outdoors or under fume hood because of alcohol fumes produced. The snake and all components of experiment can be thrown out in a household garbage.

The experiment can seem magical because when it is growing, it looks as if it is alive and moving, like a snake. It could also possibly look like a plant growing. It’s like creating life because of its natural seeming movement, even though it is just burning, rising chemicals.



Maric, Vladimir, and Teh Jun Yi. “How to Make a Fire Snake from Sugar & Baking Soda.” WonderHowTo, WonderHowTo, 18 Oct. 2017,

“Hooked on Science: ‘Black Snake’ Experiment.”, 3 July 2013,

“Carbon Sugar Snake.” KiwiCo,

“Hooked on Science: ‘Black Snake’ Experiment.”, 3 July 2013,

Common Names of Some Chemical Compounds,

“Sugar Snake.” MEL Science,

Experiments, Life Hacks &. “How to Make Fire Black Snake? Amazing Science Experiment.” YouTube, YouTube, 17 June 2018,

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