Carbon and the Black Snake Experiment

Carbon is an extraordinary element that can combine with itself and many other elements to create a huge range of compounds. It is a non-metal element that has four valence electrons that are involved in different chemical bonds. It is the most important element for living things. Carbon-based compounds in living things are called biochemical compounds. They make up the cells and tissues of organisms and also involves important processes to support life including making and using food to make energy. Pure Carbon exists as crystals in three forms, fullerenes, diamond and graphite. Though Carbon can form with many elements, it mostly bonds with Hydrogen to create a type of compound called Hydrocarbon.

Hydrocarbons: Hydrocarbons are compounds that only consist of hydrogen and carbon atoms. It mostly comes from several main sources including coal, fossil fuels, petroleum, and natural gas. The size of the hydrocarbon’s molecule can determine its property. Therefore, some hydrocarbons are gas, solid or liquid at room temperature. There are two different types of hydrocarbons: Saturated and Unsaturated. Saturated are those hydrocarbons with a single bonding between carbon atoms and Unsaturated has two or more bondings between carbon atoms. Hydrocarbons are really important to our civilization because it is used mostly as fuels and for manufacturing plastics which are major parts of the modern cities. There is a total of 8 hydrocarbons with different names and properties.

Isomers: Isomers are compounds that contain the same amount and types of molecules but they are arranged differently. They usually have somewhat different properties especially the difference in melting points.

Learning More of Carbon: The Black Snake experiment

In order to understand more about the properties of Carbon, we did an experiment called The Black Snake.


  1. Bowl
  2. Some Sand
  3. Alcohol
  4. Baking Soda
  5. Some Sugar


  1. Mix the sugar with the baking soda (put the sugar more than the baking soda)
  2. Put some sand into the bow that is wrapped with an aluminum sheet
  3. Put the mixture of sugar and the baking soda into the center of the sand.
  4. Put some alcohol around the mountain of the mixture
  5. Throw a match into the bowl and wait for the black snake to come out.




Sugar The simplest type of sugar is called glucose which contains Carbon.  
Carbon Dioxide Carbon Dioxide is a colorless gas that forms between the bonding between Carbon and Oxygen. Carbon can burn and combine with oxygen to make Carbon Dioxide.  



Baking Soda is Sodium Bicarbonate. When combined with acid and a liquid, it produces carbon dioxide gas. Sugar also contains carbon. When we put the alcohol into the mixture of baking soda and sugar and flame it with a match, the burned carbon will produce the carbon ash that we can see as the black snake that comes out and it is pushed or  enlarged by Carbon Dioxide that produced from the reaction between carbon items in the sugar, baking soda, and alcohol. (it is the reason why cooks use baking soda to bake because when it reacts with any type of acid or liquid, it will produce carbon dioxide which enlarges the dough). In addition, the alcohol helps to produce the constant flames that heated up the mixture.




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