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Simple Chemical Reaction Experiment – Steel wool and vinegar reaction

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This Simple Chemical Reaction Experiment allows kids to learn about chemistry with a simple experiment you can make in your kitchen. This steel wool and vinegar reaction is such a fun, easy science experiment for preschool, pre-k, kindergarten, first grade, 2nd grade, 3rd grade, and 4th grade students.

This Simple Chemical Reaction Experiment allows kids to learn about chemistry with a simple experiment you can make in your kitchen. This steel wool and vinegar reaction is such a fun, easy science experiment for preschool, pre-k, kindergarten, first grade, 2nd grade, 3rd grade, and 4th grade students. 

Steel wool and vinegar reaction

Children will be amazed and excited to try this chemistry science experiment for kids that is super easy to try! All you need is a few simple supplies you probably already have in your house to try this steel wool and vinegar reaction. This steel wool and vinegar experiment is fun for preschoolers, kindergartners, grade 1, grade 2, grade 3, and grade 4 students.

Whether you are a parent, teacher, or homeschooler – this fun chemical reaction experiment is a must!


Steel wool and vinegar experiment

Have you ever mixed vinegar and baking soda and watched it fizz and foam. This basic science project is an example of a chemical reaction. In a chemical reaction, two or more different molecules react with one another and form new molecules. In this case, vinegar (acetic acid) reacts with the baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) to form carbon dioxide gas. This gas is what forms the bubbles in the reaction.

Chemical reactions like this happen all the time. When food is digested and silver tarnishes, a chemical reaction has taken place. Sometimes these reactions create more than new molecules. Sometimes, they create heat. This type of chemical reaction is called an exothermic reaction. Try this simple experiment to produce and observe an exothermic reaction.

Steel Wool and Vinegar Experiment Results

Steel wool and vinegar reaction equation

Gather these supplies to get your experiment started.

  • steel wool
  • 2 glass beakers or 1 beaker and one small glass bowl
  • thermometer
  • vinegar
easy science experiment

Steel wool and vinegar exothermic reaction

Place a small piece of steel wool in beaker or small glass bowl. Cover the steel wool with vinegar and let it set for one minute. Remove the steel wool and gently squeeze out any excess vinegar.

Wrap the steel wool around the base of the thermometer and place the thermometer into the glass beaker. Cover the beaker with a paper towel or a lid to trap the heat inside.

use a thermometer to take temperature of steel wool soaked in vinegar

Steel wool and vinegar chemical reaction

Record the starting temperature and then record the temperature every 30 seconds for 5 minutes. Note any changes to the beaker or its contents.

Steel Wool and Vinegar Reaction

Steel wool vinegar reaction

Steel wool contains iron. When iron is exposed to oxygen, rust forms. Rust is a product of a chemical reaction between iron and oxygen.

Steel Wool has a protective coating that keeps oxygen from coming into contact with the iron. Vinegar contains acetic acid which removes this coating. When the protective coating is removed, oxygen in the atmosphere can reach the iron in the steel wool and a chemical reaction called oxidation occurs. Rust is created.

This reaction is also an exothermic reaction. It creates heat energy. You should be able to read the increase in temperature on the thermometer. You might, also, notice condensation on the sides of your beaker. This is caused by the increase in the temperature inside the beaker.

chemical reaction experiment steel wool

You can experiment further by trying this with liquids other than vinegar. Try water, milk, or orange juice. You can also vary the amount of steel wool or the size of the beaker. Note the differences and try to determine why those differences occurred.

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Beth Gorden

Beth Gorden is the creative multi-tasking creator of 123 Homeschool 4 Me. As a busy homeschooling mother of six, she strives to create hands-on learning activities and worksheets that kids will love to make learning FUN! She has created over 1 million pages of printables to help teach kids ABCs, science, English grammar, history, math, and so much more! Beth is also the creator of 2 additional sites with even more educational activities and FREE printables - www.kindergartenworksheetsandgames.com and www.preschoolplayandlearn.com

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