In making a "world's record" elephant's toothpaste, the experimenter claims that he and colleagues calculated how much of each component would be needed. To scale up any reaction from "laboratory size" to any large size requires more than just a stoichiometric
Reactions Reations do not scale up in a linear manner. This is where a chemical engineer is needed, along with pilot plant studies. Furthermore, these experimenters scaled up the amount of potassium iodide "catalyst" - another unknown. Scaling up does not
necessarily require an equivalent quantity of catalyst. Potassium iodide is not a true catalyst in this reaction. In the case of the potassium iodide, oxidation of the iodide ion occurred, thus yellow stains of iodine on surrounding structures. Those stains
lasted for days as the iodine sublimed into the air producing topic vapors to individuals in the area.
This is why books, YouTube videos, TV shows, and others showing "fantastic" demonstrations are dangerous to individuals with little or no knowledge of the chemistry involved. The sources may state "Do not try this at home.", but, in my opinion, it is
viewed as a challenge to uninformed individuals.
David A. Katz
Chemist, Educator, Expert Demonstrator, Science Communicator, and Consultant
Programs and workshops for teachers, schools, museums, and the public
5003 Canby Dr. * Wilmington, DE 19808-1102 * USA
voice/fax: (302) 509-3282 * email:
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