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Make a cloud in a jar : Fizzics Education

SCIENCE SHOWS, EVENTS & WORKSHOPS

Make a cloud in a jar

Make a cloud in a jar

Follow FizzicsEd 150 Science Experiments:

You will need:

  • 1 clear glass jar
  • 1 match
  • A kettle with water
  • A rubber glove

Adult supervision needed

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A kettle, rubber glove, glass jar and matches on a table outside
1

With adult help, boil your kettle and allow the water to sit until it cools a little. You don’t need really hot water, just enough for it to be still steaming.

Once the kettle has cooled a bit, carefully pour a small amount of water into the glass jar (just enough to cover the bottom of the jar).

2

With adult help, light a match and allow it to burn for a couple of seconds. Now blow the match out and drop it into the glass jar to put out the smouldering match in the water.

3 A rubber globe being stretached around the opening of a glass jar

Quickly stretch your rubber glove over the entrance of the glass jar. The rubber glove should be stretched tightly across the jar but still loose enough to be able to move up and down without tearing.

  • Using a latex glove:
    We’ve found that it is easier to then clamp your hands around the side of the jar so that the rubber glove fingers are not involved in the experiment.

 

  • Using a laundry rubber glove:
    If you are using a laundry glove (and you have a large enough jar), another way is to place the glove fingers all the way into the jar and then roll the opening of the glove over the entrance of the jar. The glove should then be entirely inside the jar and be upside down when you place the jar on the table.
4 A hand pulling a rubber glove out of a glass jar. A cloud has formed inside the glass jar

Now it’s time to make your cloud in a jar!

  • Using a latex glove
    Pinch the middle of the stretched rubber and pull upwards.

 

  • Using a laundry rubber glove:
    Place your hand as far into the upside-down glove as you can. Now pull the glove upwards.

In both versions, you should see a cloud momentarily form in the jar. You can then repeat the demonstration by pushing the glove back inside the jar and then pulling the glove out again.

5 A person forming a cloud inside a jar by pulling on a rubber glove

Troubleshooting

  • If you find there is too much condensation inside your jar to see the cloud, your water is too hot.

 

  • If the cloud doesn’t form when you pull on the glove, either not enough water vapour is in the air inside the jar or you don’t have enough smoke inside the jar or finally the glove is not being out far enough to change the volume enough for the cloud to form.
6 Fizzics Education making a cloud from liquid nitrogen and hot water at MAAS

What is going on?

Adding hot water into the jar allows water vapour to fill the jar. This increases the humidity within the jar, however it is too warm for the water vapour molecules to condense and form a cloud.  Temperature is a measure of how quickly molecules are moving and colliding. When the air molecules inside the jar are closer together the temperature can remain higher than when you separate these air molecules. By pulling on the rubber glove you were able to lower the temperature by increasing the volume of the air space (which means less collisions between the air molecules). The cloud formed inside the jar when the temperature was low enough for water molecules to condense around the smoke particles in the air.

Variables to test

More on variables here

  • Try different temperatures of water in the jar. What is the minimum temperature needed for the cloud to form?
  • Try using hairspray instead of smoke form a match. Does this make this easier or harder to form a cloud?
  • Try large vs small jars.

Learn more!

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