Have you seen the ammonia fountain?

Yasmin Jayathirtha

lab-experiment Many months ago, October 2012, to be exact, I had covered the reactions of nitrogen in the laboratory. Under Ammonia, the properties were described as; ‘ammonia has a pungent smell, is a base and very soluble in water.’ A spectacular way of showing the solubility is to do the fountain experiment. It does not always work, so do try it out before demonstrating it.

The figure shows a complicated arrangement with tubes and connections with a U-tube for drying the gas. It is rather difficult to set up, since one has to collect many stoppers and tubes and make sure it is air-tight. This can be cumbersome and though I enjoy showing spectacular experiments, I rarely demonstrate this one.

The author works with Centre for Learning, Bengaluru. She can be reached at yasmin.cfl@gmail.com.

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