Vapor-Phase Oxidations (#6.27, Volume 2, page 216, Chemical
Vapor-Phase Oxidations (#6.27, Volume 2, page 216, Chemical Demonstrations: A
Handbook for Teachers of Chemistry, Bassam Z. Shakhashiri, University of
Wisconsin Press (1985)
Large Scale reaction bottle for Vapor Phase Oxidations of Ethanol Demo, and
One five (5) gallon water cooler jug.
Two galvanized 16 penny nails
8 ml Ethanol
Super glue, or epoxy resin glue
Size 24-26 Cork Stopper
Squirt Bottle, or other means of delivering Ethanol
Tesla Coil and extension cord
Gloves, goggles, hearing protection
Preparation of Bottle
Nails must be inserted into the bottle to serve as electrodes. There are two methods used
to fasten the nails, depending upon the type of bottle used. If the bottle is symmetrical,
without a handle, the two nails are bent at an inward angle of about 22.5 degrees each,
and inserted parallel to one another about half way up the outer vertical surface of the
bottle. The tips of the nails are placed so as to be no more than 1 cm apart, but not
touching. Use galvanized nails to avoid frequent and difficult replacement.
If the bottle has a handle, the nails are mounted perpendicular to one another across the
flattened section of the bottle where the handle protrudes.
Close-up of mounted nails (heads removed)
Photo one, 5 gallon jug
Due to the difference in composition of the bottle, as opposed to smaller bottles used in
the demo, the nails are heated, and pushed into the material. The large bottles are made of
PETE, and the smaller bottles are mostly made from polyethylene, which grips the nails
when they are pushed into the walls. The PETE does not grip the nail electrode, and must
be further secured with epoxy, or similar glue.
Close-up shot of mounting arrangement
Place ~8 ml Ethanol into bottle, place stopper in mouth of jug. Don hearing protection.
Touch operating Tesla coil to one of the nail electrodes.
Large Bottles may be obtained from a local store or business that supplies refillable water
jugs for coolers. Many offices with such coolers may be willing to part with one if you
pay the deposit fee. I was able to purchase two outright at a local Copps® food store for
five US Dollars ($5.00) each.
Large Cork Stoppers (size 24, stock number AP1890) can be purchased in bulk from
Flinn Scientific, and come in bags of 25. Size 26 and larger can be purchased in bulk
from Manton Industrial cork products, but only in bags of 100.
Flinn Scientific Inc.
P.O. Box 219,
Batavia IL 60510-0219
Manton Industrial Cork Products