Hi there! I’ve managed to avoid having explosions in the lab, but I’ve seen explosions outside the lab which were huge! Your teacher might have shown you the hydrogen balloons exploding which is exciting, but if you mix it with 2:1 hydrogen:oxygen, the explosion is even bigger and louder. But by far the biggest explosion I’ve seen (and we couldn’t do it inside, we had to go outside otherwise we might have broken windows and damaged peoples’ hearing) is with an acetylene balloon. Acetylene is a hugely explosive gas that people used to use a lot of the fifties and before. Nowadays, people don’t use it so that they can go home every evening in one piece, and seeing a balloon of it explode I can see why! It was so incredibly loud! Here’s a cool video of it blowing up a van – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uUmLe9WCXX0
I’ve been at Imperial when a huge fire happened it chemistry- we all had to evacuate and the fire engines had to come! It was kind of dangerous, because no one knew about what else was in the lab and how flammable it was. In labs that people share, just like shared fridges, it is super important to label your stuff!
The explosion in chemistry was SUPER dramatic. It started a fire, and forced a door bolted with iron to open. There was laboratory glass across the road after the explosion! It happened because they accidentally mixed two chemicals together that were very reactive. That means, when they started to mix, huge amounts of energy came out.
If you’d like, you could come and see some safe explosions at my university. We run ‘live science shows’ over the summer, and there is a live chemistry one with a clever doctor! This year it is called “From gases to flashes to ashes! “