One of the most interesting and simple science experiment is the sulfuric acid and sugar experiment. However, the experiment uses sulfuric acid which needs extra care and precaution. This experiment must be done only with proper safety measures and under the administration of an adult. Please avoid doing this experiment at home. The experiment demonstrates the dehydration of sugar or sucrose using sulfuric acid.
Try it yourself
- Sugar granules
- Sugar cubes
- Concentrated sulfuric acid
- Glass beaker
- Glass bowl
- Stirring rod (glass)
- Camera (optional)
Step 1: Pour sugar granules to the glass beaker (almost until the half of the glass beaker).
Step 2: Pour in the sulfuric acid to the glass beaker. Using the stirring rod, stir the mixture thoroughly and leave it for a few seconds.
You will notice that the sugar is dehydrating and it is turning black as carbon is produced.
Step 3: Take a few sugar cubes into the glass bowl.
Step 4: Pour some sulfuric acid to the glass bowl over the sugar cubes. Just wait for a few seconds and see.
You will see that the sugar cubes are turning black and carbon is produced.
Logic of Sulfuric Acid and Sugar Experiment:
What’s happening? The sugar is dehydrated by the sulfuric acid.
C12H22O11 (sugar) + H2SO4 (sulfuric acid) → 12C (carbon) + 11H2O (it is a mixture of water and acid)
Sulfuric acid and sugar experiment demonstrates an exothermic reaction. An exothermic reaction is a chemical reaction that releases energy in the form of heat or light. This reaction between sulfuric acid and sugar releases heat and steam in addition to the fumes of sulfur oxide. Through this experiment you have learned what happens when sulfuric acid is combined with sugar and also understood the meaning of exothermic reactions. If you wish to see the examples of endothermic reactions, click here.