MadSci Network: Biochemistry

Re: Way to test bubbles from hydrogen peroxide/catalase extract is oxygen?

Date: Fri Nov 6 16:02:37 1998
Posted By: Michael Onken, MadSci Admin
Area of science: Biochemistry
ID: 910319899.Bc

The first hurdle is to find a way to collect the gas being generated by the reaction. This could be most easily accomplished by carrying out the reaction in a test tube (or flask) with an adapter that allows it to be closed and attached to some tubing, so that the evolution of the gas will increase the pressure in the tube and force it out through the tubing. At peak activity, this should generate a slight jet of gas from the tube which can be collected in an inverted tube or used directly out of the jet.

Now for the test. The traditional test for oxygen harkens back to its discovery: oxygen is required for most things to burn. If you light a strip of wood (like a tongue depressor or better still a punk) on fire at one end [adult supervision required], and the blow out the flames such that a nice ember is left, exposure of the ember to pure oxygen should cause it to burn much faster. Just hold the ember up to the jet [adult supervision required] or place it in the inverted tube [adult supervision required] and watch the results.

As an interesting control, try reacting vinegar (acetic acid) with baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) in another tube and test the effect of the evolved gas on the ember.

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