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How To Do The Singing Sultana Experiment

How To Do The Singing Sultana Experiment

In this video, Denise Ralph explores the fascinating world of chemistry with an exciting twist on the classic Screaming Jelly Baby experiment using sultanas!

The screaming jelly baby experiment is a classic science demonstration that involves placing a regular jelly baby candy in a test tube filled with potassium chlorate(VII) and heating it. The heat causes the sugar in the jelly baby to react with the potassium chlorate, resulting in a rapid combustion reaction that produces a loud screaming noises.

In this experiment, Denise switches a jelly baby candy for these ordinary dried fruits, combines them with potassium chlorate(VII) powder to witness an unexpected burst of flames and crackling reactions!

This experiment is ideal for teaching chemistry and specifically topics related to combustion reactions and the reactivity of different substances. It can be linked to various aspects of the GCSE science curriculum, depending on the specific exam board and the syllabus being followed. Here are some ways the experiment might be relevant to the GCSE science curriculum:

  1. Chemical Reactions: The experiment illustrates a chemical reaction between the sugar in the jelly baby or sultana and the potassium chlorate(VII) in a dramatic and visual way.
  2. Combustion: It demonstrates a rapid combustion reaction, emphasizing the key components required for combustion to occur, such as fuel, oxygen, and heat.
  3. Reactivity Series: This experiment can be used to discuss the reactivity series of metals, focusing on the reactivity of different substances in the presence of an oxidizing agent.
  4. Laboratory Techniques and Safety: It highlights the importance of using appropriate laboratory techniques and safety measures when handling chemicals and conducting experiments.
  5. Energy Changes in Reactions: The experiment can be used to discuss energy changes that occur during chemical reactions, including exothermic reactions and the energy transformations involved.
  6. Practical Skills: Students can develop practical skills such as using equipment safely, following instructions, making observations, and drawing conclusions based on experimental results.

Teachers may use the experiment as a practical demonstration to engage students and help them grasp fundamental concepts in chemistry. Additionally, it serves as an opportunity for students to develop their investigative and analytical skills, which are essential components of the GCSE science curriculum.

You will need:

  • A handful of sultanas (raisins)
  • Test tube
  • Potassium chlorate(VII) powder
  • Bunsen burner or a heat source
  • Safety goggles
  • Tongs


  1. Put a small amount of potassium chlorate(VII) powder into the test tube. Make sure not to fill the test tube more than one-third full.
  2. Add a few sultanas (raisins) to the test tube with the potassium chlorate(VII) powder.
  3. Use the tongs to hold the test tube, ensuring a safe distance from your face and body.
  4. Heat the bottom of the test tube using the Bunsen burner or another heat source. Be cautious not to overheat the mixture.
  5. Observe and listen to the reaction carefully. You should hear a popping or crackling sound as the sultanas ignite and burn in the presence of the potassium chlorate(VII) oxygen provider.
  6. After the reaction has completed and the popping sounds have ceased, allow the test tube to cool down before handling it.

All health and safety measures are the responsibility of the teacher doing the demonstration. A thorough risk assessment should be carried out and guidance procedures followed. It is suggested that you practice before demonstration in front of a class.

Important safety precautions:

  • Wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from any potential splashes or debris.
  • Conduct the experiment in a well-ventilated area to avoid inhaling any fumes or smoke produced during the reaction.
  • Handle the test tube with caution, as it may become hot during the heating process.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher or another appropriate fire safety equipment nearby, just in case of any unexpected incidents.

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