Colourful Chemistry: Watch the Results of these Colourful Chemical Reactions

The world of science can be a perfect source of colourful inspiration. This is ever apparent by a project titled “Beautiful Chemistry“, a colourful chemistry project carried out by scientists at the University of Science and Technology of China. Using ultra High definition video equipment, coupled with specialist visual effect experts, the team were able to showcase the full spectrum of colours which become as a result of certain chemical reactions.

Striking colour clashes create scenes worthy of a modern art exhibition, but all of this is in the name of science, with a view to bring a greater awareness of chemistry to the general public. Scroll down to view videos of these chemical reactions taking place in slow motion. You will be impressed…


Colour Change

“The molecules inside some plants giving them vibrant colors can change to other colors under acid and base conditions. What we show here is color change of purple cabbage and a flower named Teornia fournieri in sodium hydroxide (NaOH) and hydrochloric acid (HCl) solutions.”



“This video features 5 precipitation reactions, each with its own “personality”. In a typical demonstration of precipitation reactions, we see a transparent solution in a test tube at the beginning and a cloudy liquid at the end after adding a few droplets of another solution. However, when we used cubic glass cells to replace test tubes and took a much closer look, their unique beauty was revealed.”


Chemical Garden

“This is our take of a popular chemical experiment showing the wonder of chemistry. The reaction occurred when a piece of metal salt was dropped in water glass (water solution of sodium silicate, Na2SiO3). The salt began to grow and generate many interesting forms due to the formation of water-permeable metal silicate membranes and osmotic effects.”


Metal Displacement

“We dropped zinc metal in silver nitrate (AgNO3), copper sulfate (CuSO4), and lead nitrate (Pb(NO3)2) solutions, and recorded the emergence of silver, copper, and lead metals with beautiful structure. To preserve the fragile structure of lead metal, we also added sodium silicate (Na2SiO3) and acetic acid (CH3COOH) to the solution to make it gelatinize.”



“Many chemical reactions generate gases. In solution, gases escape as bubbles. Here we show 4 bubbling reactions. The last one is the electrolysis of sodium hydroxide (NaOH) aqueous solution. It is obvious that the reaction generated more hydrogen (H2) at the cathode than oxygen (O2) at the anode. In fact, the ideal volume ratio is H2 : O2 = 2 : 1.”



“Crystals are beautiful, both externally at the macroscopic level and internally at the atomic level. The same is true for the process of crystallization, which is the formation and growth of crystals. This video shows the crystallization of copper sulfate (CuSO4), sodium thiosulfate (Na2S2O3), potassium ferrioxalate (K3[Fe(C2O4)3]), and sodium acetate (CH3COONa). More accurately, these crystals all have water molecules inside them. Their chemical formulas are CuSO4·5H2O, Na2S2O3·5H2O, K3[Fe(C2O4)3]·3H2O, and CH3COONa·3H2O.”


Dancing Flourescent Droplets

“We mixed the oily chemicals inside fluorescent sticks, then added sodium hydroxide (NaOH) solution to the mixture, which was inspired by Mr. Theodore Gray’s Mad Science 2. What we got was something interesting: colorful fluorescent droplets with dynamic movements.”



“We showed 3 different kinds of smoke in this video: the black smoke of candle soot darkening a sheet of transparent glass, the smoke from incense burning (the smell was nice), and the ammonium chloride (NH4Cl) smoke formed when hydrogen chloride (HCl) gas and ammonia (NH3) gas came together (the smell was terrible).”

All videos and reaction descriptions copyright of USTC &TUP

The Chromologist


The Chromologist is a colour whisperer. He understands and knows them better than they know themselves, translating their pleas to be used beautifully for humankind. It's unknown from whence he came. Some say the fraction of space between a prism and a spectrum, others say he toiled in the fabled colour mines of Svalbard for years untold, deep underground, speaking only to the reds and blues, cerises and aquas, bronze and golds...

The Chromologist 2018 | Farrow & Ball

The Chromologist