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Carbon Snake


100 or 150-mL Beaker (tall form)

Sucrose to fill Beaker about 1/3 full

conc. (18 M) Sulfuric Acid

Glass Stirring Rod

Large Crystallization Dish for overflow

Benchcote or Large Tray for under Crystallizing Dish

Gloves and Goggles



  1. Add conc Sulfuric acid to beaker until it just covers the sugar and mix with the stirring rod. You may need to add a little more sulfuric acid.
  2. When you feel the beaker heating up, stop stirring and put the beaker down in the crystallization dish.
  3. The reaction takes about 5 to 8 minutes to start to fully react.
  4. Result should be a nice column of graphite.

Note: Do this demonstration in a well ventilated room, and stand back when it starts to react.  The fumes given off are Sulfuric Acid


Waste Management

The graphite column is saturated with sulfuric acid. It should be placed in a bucket of water and the whole thing neutralized with sodium bicarbonate. Then it can be dumped down the sink. (Alternatively just double bag  the whole thing including the beaker and give it to EH&S).