# Question #76b91

Feb 5, 2015

You're describing the dehydration of sugar, which is what happens when sucrose, or common table sugar, is mixed with sulfuric acid.

Here's the balanced chemical equations

${C}_{12} {H}_{22} {O}_{11 \left(s\right)} \to 12 C + 11 {H}_{2} O$

In the first stage of the reaction, the sulfuric acid will remove water molecules from the sugar in a highly exothermic reaction, creating elemental carbon.

Then the sulfuric acid will oxidize the carbon to form carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide fumes

$C + 2 {H}_{2} S {O}_{4} \to C {O}_{2} + 2 {H}_{2} O + 2 S {O}_{2}$

The interesting part is that a few moments after the reaction starts, a black colomn made out of carbon atoms will rise from the beaker. This happens because solid state carbon takes up more room due to its planar, layered structure.

As a warning, this experiment should be done in a fume hood because the sufur dioxide fumes are dangerous.

Here are a couple of videos on this reaction (you can find many, mony more on youtube)