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Ammonia Fountain

Chemical Concepts Demonstrated

  • Solubility of gases in water
  • pH changes in water with gas dissolved in it

Demonstration

  • The bottom round-bottom flask is filled with water and phenolthalein.
  • The top flask is filled with ammonia gas.
  • Open the clamp and blow air into the tubing to transfer drops of water into the upper flask.

 

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Observations

The water rushes up to the top flask and the solution turns pink.

Explanations

The first few drops of water that enter the upper flask absorb a little ammonia gas.  When this occurs, a slight vacuum that forms sucks a little more water into the flask to balance the pressure.  This water, in turn, absorbs a little more ammonia.  This continuous exchange creates a chain reaction that causes the solution to come rushing into the top flask.

The solution turns pink because of the basic activation of the indicator in the water.

As an alternative, HCl gas could be used (bromothymol blue or methyl violet replace the phenolphthalein).  SOand Cl2gases could also be used to create acidic solutions.

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