The Cotton Lab


At high temperatures, oxygen is so active chemically that it will unite readily with almost every other element. At ordinary temperatures, it is only moderately active. There are a few oxygen-containing compounds, however, that may react violently with certain other substances even at relatively low temperatures. Sodium peroxide is one.


  1. To see how an oxygen-containing compound is very reactive even at low temperatures.


  1. Beaker
  2. Some warm water
  3. A pinch of sodium peroxide
  4. (2) Cotton swabs


  1. With a spoon or metal spatula, place a few grains of sodium peroxide on a small wad of absorbent cotton in a beaker.
  2. Add a drop or two of warm water.


  1. What happened to the cotton? Why?