Exploding Balloons of Hydrogen and Oxygen

Combine two parts hydrogen with one part oxygen, add some energy, and you'll get a bang out of it.

Combining two parts hydrogen with one part oxygen gets dramatic when you add a little energy. POW! This is Steve Spangler’s unique twist on combining these two gases in hopes of “sparking” your curiosity about hydrogen as an alternative energy source. Enjoy the video and then do some research on hydrogen fuel cells. They may be the clean energy source of the future.

WARNING: The demonstration using hydrogen and oxygen was performed under very strict supervision of safety officials. It’s intended for educational purposes only. Do not attempt to perform this demonstration!

Experiment Videos

Experiment

1

By itself, oxygen gas (O2) doesn’t burn. What it does do, however, is to help other things burn, or oxidize, if there’s a fuel nearby.

2

Contrary to popular belief, if you ignite a balloon full of pure oxygen, it just pops – no big explosion, no huge ball of flames, no dust to settle. Pop! That’s it.

3

Things are a little different if you add something that does burn… like, oh, say hydrogen gas (H). Now, the O2 can make things very interesting – and dangerous.

4

The O2 lends its power to oxidize things and now you do get a big explosion, a huge ball of flames, and lots of dust to settle. Watch out for this one:  Bam! 

Take It Further

You may have heard a lot of folks recently talking about using fuel cells for power. Actually, they’ve been around and in use for many years and have spent a long time in space on NASA vehicles. According to many reports, someday we may be using this hydrogen-based, energy-saving technology to generate electricity for our homes and to power our cars and vehicles. The technology is complicated but extremely interesting to people in all walks of life because it offers a means of making power more efficiently while reducing pollution. The downside that you might address as a future researcher is how to capture the hydrogen without the sizable carbon footprint it now requires. You should learn more about how the several types of fuel cells operate and explore the science behind this amazing technology.

Safety Information

The demonstration using hydrogen and oxygen was performed under very strict supervision of safety officials. It’s intended for educational purposes onlyDo not attempt to perform this demonstration!