Canned Heat - Sterno: GO BACK|
Safety Precautions: Ethyl alcohol is
a flammable liquid and a dangerous fire risk. Have a large beaker to cover
the fire or an ABC class fire extinguisher available during this
- Calcium acetate, monohydrate, Ca(C2H3O2)2
H2O, 3 g
- Ethyl alcohol, 95%, CH3CH2OH, 75
- Sodium chloride, NaCl, pinch
- Graduated cylinder, 100-mL
- Fire extinguisher, ABC class
- Beaker, 250-mL
- Evaporating dish or small beaker, Pyrex
- Stirring rod or wood stick
Prepare a SATURATED calcium acetate
Weigh out 3 grams of calcium acetate in a
Measure out 10 mL of water (tap wate is
fine), and add it to the calcium acetate. Stir to dissolve most of the
solid (not all of the solid will dissolve).
Add a pinch of sodium chloride to the
calcium acetate solution and stir.
Measure 75 mL of ethyl alcohol using a
graduated cylinder and transfer it to the beaker containing the calcium
acetate solution. The gel will form as soon as the alcohol is
added. Do not stir the mixture.
Using a spatula, transfer the gel into
the evaporating dish.
Place the evaporating dish on a
non-flammable ceramic fiber square or tile and away from all combustible
Use a match to carefully light the
gel. Turning off the lights will make the flame more noticeable.
Notice the formation of calcium carbonate on the inside of the evaporating
dish. The sodium chloride added to the solution makes the flame yellow
and therefore more visible.
The evaporating dish will get extremely
hot, so use caution and do not handle until is has cooled completely.
Wash hands, work area, and equipment
thoroughly when finished.
[An alternative is to grind a piece of chalk
(calcium carbonate) and add to 25 mL of household vinegar. Boil solution
to produce saturated calcium acetate.]
Sterno is a commercial product used in many
cafeteria and banquet serving lines. It is a favorite with restaurants
because it provides a reliable, odorless and safe heat source. Sterno,
also called Canned Heat, produces a flame that is relatively small and long
lasting. Since it is a solid, it does not spill. Another benefit is
that is does not evaporate or easily vaporize. Canned Heat is produces by
mixing a concentrated solution of calcium acetate with ethyl alcohol. As
the ethyl alcohol and calcium acetate solution
Source: Flinn Publication
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