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Rusting Steel Wool Experiment

In & Outdoor $
Chemistry, Science Fair
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Activity Overview

This experiment with Steel Wool is easily done at home with supplies that you likely have on hand or that are easily accessible. The Steel Wool experiment explores the chemical reaction of rust that occurs when water, air and other substances come in contact with metals that contain iron. This experiment will take 24 hours to observe and will give a hands on look at why children should remember to stow their toys and bicycles away and keep them out of the elements.

Materials Needed

  • 5 Jars with lids
  • steel wool
  • Water and boiling water
  • Baking Soda
  • Salt
  • index cards and marker and tape
  • Scissors

How to Do It

  1. Line up all 5 jars and cut a piece of steel wool with scissors and place a piece in each jar.
  2. Label the Jars one through five and record what you place in each container or adhere numbered index cards with what is in each jar listed on the card. be sure that you make note of what each jar contains.
  3. Put Water only into jar number 1 and place the lid on the jar.
  4. Put Boiling Water into jar number 2 and place the lid on the jar.
  5. Leave the third jar empty with the lid off exposed to only air.
  6. Mix together to a form a solution of water and salt and add to jar number 4 and place the lid on it.
  7. Mix together to form a solution of baking soda and water and add to jar number 5 and place the lid on it.
  8. Leave the jars undisturbed for the period of 24 hours and then note your observations.

Scientific Notes

The chemical reaction of rust is a common reaction that happens to iron and metals that contain iron. Rust is caused by the metal's exposure to air and water and is accelerated by the presence of salt. The steel wool in jars 1 and 3 will rust and deteriorate more slowly than the other jars. Containers 2 and 5 will only start to show rusting if there is some air trapped underneath the lid of the jar.

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