a PLAYCHEM experiment
Steel Wool is a fine fibrous form of steel and consists mainly, 90+ %, of
iron (Fe). You are probably familiar with it in the form of "SOS"
or "Brillo" for scouring and polishing
pots and pans. These products are steel wool which has been loaded with soap
to help in the cleaning. Plain steel wool is used to polish other metal
objects and in the final steps of finishing fine wood products. This may have
a trace of oil on it to retard its rusting. If you can't find steelwool in your supermarket, you certainly can find it
in any hardware store. Look but don't buy; for this experiment, we will
furnish the steelwool.
The main object of this experiment is to
determine how the mass of steel wool changes when you burn it in the hot
flame of a Bunsen Burner. From these data and your other observations, you
should be able to make a number of conclusions.
As you do this experiment, keep in mind
other characteristics of steelwool, in particular
its tendency to rust away. Also organize in your mind exactly what is the
chemical meaning of burning. On this latter aspect, if worse comes to worse,
try an unabridged dictionary.
a second experiment, you will generate a beaker full of pure oxygen by
decomposing hydrogen peroxide.
= 2 H2O + O2
will then heat a second weighed sample of steel wool until it just starts
glowing and plunge it into the oxygen gas.
© R.W. Kluiber