Rainbow Demonstration

You know how when you were a little kid, you would love to point out a rainbow to your mom and dad? Most people think that rainbows are a symbol of happiness and peace. This may be because we visualize rainbows to be a pretty sight. I found a fascinating article where rainbows are portrayed in a negative manner. In most general chemistry classes, something called a “rainbow demonstration” is a famous experiment most teachers like to show. This demonstration requires the teacher to use methanol and different chemical elements. The solids are combined with methanol and then ignited to produce a color. I even remember my chemistry teacher doing this experiment as a demonstration in high school. The problem with this experiment is that some teachers do not use proper safety wear and take all precautions. This results in severe injuries.  To properly visualize this “rainbow demonstration,” take a look at the video.  When an accident occurs, the injuries can be quite fatal. Methanol is highly flammable which causes it to explode and spread rapidly. If the proper safety equipment is not used, you can see how bad an injury can be. In the article, I found out that “a Georgia high school student received $1.5 million settlement for burns she received” during the actual rainbow demonstration (Elston). It is quite unusual to see that something that was supposed to be a beautiful arrangement of colors turned out to cause a child severe burns. For the first time ever, I can confidentially say that rainbows are not always seen in a positive light.



Elston, Harry J. “Rainbows Revisited and Unintended Consequences.” Journal of Chemical Health & Safety 23.4 (2016): 1. Web.

2 thoughts on “Rainbow Demonstration

  1. Wow I totally would not have ever thought about this as a topic of inquiry, it’s quite unique and I’d love to read further into it as your topic progresses.

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