01/18/2012 09:20 am ET

LN2 Explodes In Chemistry Experiment Gone Wrong (VIDEO)

LN2 (liquid nitrogen) experiments are safest when the experimenters know what they're doing. But as this big-bang video shows, sometimes it's more fun to watch when things don't go quite as planned--you can see the LN2 explode right in the guy's hand.

As hard as these fellows appear to be trying for a Darwin Award, they seem to avoid serious injury--not through safety precautions, but by dumb luck. Genius A pours the LN2 into a plastic bottle with no gloves while Genius B films. When Genius A handles the filled bottle of LN2, he is wearing gloves, but no safety goggles.

Cue the big bang.

When the LN2-filled bottle explodes, it appears to blow out the bottom rather than the sides, which was probably good news for Genius A's hand. Not that Genius B seemed to care much. After the explosion, he can be heard chuckling.

Moral of the story? Don't try this at home, kids.

Safety precautions ignored in this video,

  • IGNORED: Treat liquid nitrogen and any object cooled with liquid nitrogen with respect.
  • UNKNOWN: Take care not to allow liquid nitrogen to be trapped in clothing near the skin.
  • IGNORED: Wear safety glasses or a face shield when transfering liquid nitrogen.
  • IGNORED: Wear gloves when touching any object cooled by liquid nitrogen. Gloves should be loose fitting, so they could be thrown off if liquid were to pour inside them
  • IGNORED BADLY: Use only approved unsealed containers. Never pour it into a coffee thermos. Never seal it in any container (it will explode).
  • Never dip a hollow tube into liquid nitrogen; it may spurt liquid.
  • IGNORED: Never use in a small poorly ventilated room, and never dispose of liquid nitrogen by pouring it on the floor. It could displace enough oxygen to cause suffocation. Nitrogen gas is colorless and odorless--the cloud that forms when you pour liquid nitrogen is condensed water vapor from the air, not nitrogen gas.
  • Do not store liquid nitrogen for long periods in an uncovered container (on the other hand, never totally seal a container). Because the boiling point of oxygen, 90.1K, is above that of nitrogen, oxygen can condense from the air into the liquid nitrogen. If the air over the nitrogen circulates, this liquid oxygen can build up to levels which may cause violent reactions with organic materials; even materials which are ordinarily nonflammable. For example, a severe clothing fire could result from ignition in the presence of liquid oxygen.