> phymol-chem > nchem-2161-suppl > high-speed-camera-reveals-why-sodium-explodes-thunderf00t

High speed camera reveals why sodium explodes!

Thunderf00t - 2015-01-30

This has been a phenominally fun study to do, and I gratefully thank all those who have supported this work over the years!

Seems to have gotten some media attention :-)


Some of this stuff seems almost prophetic when viewed with hindsight!

The sodium video is almost spookey in its predictions!

EXACTLY where it all began :-D

Invisible Metal

MANY thanks to all those who enabled this research by supporting this channel!

Cody'sLab - 2016-11-23

This is fantastic research! It makes sense that you would have an
electron transfer with an ionic salt right! This explains so much!

Tace Tan - 2016-12-18

good qn, i had the same thinking when I saw this vid..

A Chill Dude Who Plays Games - 2017-04-08

Cody'sLab woah, two science channels, you guys should do a collab!!!!!!

MaruderSlayer - 2017-08-17

colLAB ha!

ok, I'll leave

Andre Gon - 2018-05-21

Yeah a collab of you and Thunderfoot gold-plating your ballsack.

Oak_meadow - 2019-09-02

This is Nobel in Chemistry type discovery, I too am published, the J of Surgical Res, 1977; I was still in High School. I inducted into the Texas Society of Electron Microscopy; all tho I had accomplished was preparing speciums, using the ultra microtome first with glass knives that i made until presiented with a diamond knife (you making your own nozzles i can really grok). Congrats prof Mason
Bill from Texas

Dazzletoad - 2016-11-06

I have to say on behalf of Professor Poliakoff, he said that those things are very well studied. That does not mean they are very well understood, or even understood at all.

日猫 - 2015-10-09

I wish every scientific paper had such a utube video attached to it haha

Nikola Tasev - 2016-04-17

+Gunther why did you gunt my fries I wish for the same...

Boom, logic. - 2015-10-21

Jesus, congrats to getting published in nature m8.

Hadgerz - 2015-01-30

I don't care what scientific breakthrough you discover, the fact that no proud feminists are shown in this video taking all the credit for this discovery is ostracising and sexist!

Man's Video Blog - 2015-02-16

How can you state that as Cs, Na and K took part in the experiments?  All when dropped into H20 displayed qualities similar to our beloved Feminists.  Chaos rules!

Mick7sp - 2015-07-20

@Hagz What are you talking about....? hehe
The entire basis for the study was the unexplained nature of a radical feminist reacting exactly the same as when a small nugget of potassium or sodium is dropped into water

dezastruos - 2017-05-17


Tiamat's Chosen Daughter - 2020-03-05

lol, science is not something feelings have a spot

mambda - 2020-03-17

Why the fuck is this stupid ass comment one of the top comments on this educational and scientific video?

itsasin1969 - 2015-08-29

Title should be "Nerds gone wild"

Vehement Badger - 2015-11-05

+itsasin1969 Correct. I went wild.

Derpsider - 2015-11-14

I got an orgasm of this video :D

WR3ND - 2016-04-12

Stop objectifying science, you damn racist.

lokdabest - 2016-04-18

+itsasin1969 !! IN THE HOOD !! GONE SEXUAL!!!

Azivegu - 2015-09-26

so... who wants to drop a kilo of a sodium-potassium alloy into a lake?

Anvilshock - 2016-04-20

@Brent Krueger You didn't mention heating specifically, yes, but you did mention electric lightning, and I then told you how the thunder in lightning works!! Problem is, from then on you ignored EVERYTHING I said ... except for being told you're wrong ... which you took as an offense. Great stuff.
I've never said, nor am I'm going to say that things never ever got discovered by accident, far from it. That's again you trying to spin things your way. What I do say is that even such cases of accidental discoveries are approached with known facts (for example, how lightning makes its sound!) and educated assumptions, not by comparing witches to ducks by their buoyancy. One method (hint: not yours) is the scientific one, the other one (hint: yours) is called ... I don't know, homoeopathy, or maybe fantasy game alchemy. You only compare symptoms, not causes, and then you argue the processes must be the same just because they appear roughly similar to the feeble and inaccurate human sensory.
You're wrong on an ever increasing amount of levels, and if you can't but consider being given explanations as to why as insults then there's really no point in continuing to try reasoning sensibly with you. Therefore, here's at least something we can both agree easily upon being an actual insult:
Go fuck yourself.

Happy now?

iamhughmun - 2017-03-16

Orson in charge catapult

ChrisTanGaming - 2017-04-09

Azivegu Grab a bucket of the stuff, fly over a lake with a small plane, dump the stuff in. Boom, a small hiroshima!

Juste un trou d'eau - 2018-11-09

@Drake Depew 6:57 explain the second explosion

James Dillon - 2020-03-18

@Orson in charge FIRE THE CANNONS. hopefully the spark from the lighter would react with it of course.

The Jordan R-chive - 2015-01-31

Wow....with that kind of energy output, you could start developing.....


andiroidYT - 2016-04-10

Meanwhile, Anita S made a video about bums.

Sven Hoek - 2016-07-19

Baddum Tsss! lol

Echo - 2016-10-14

lol I thought the exact same thing at 22:52 Well said, bet he also didn't get 360k+ to do this research, yet he has made more videos and has done more actual research into the topics.. Not just stole footage from streamers and other youtubers.

Gristle Von Raben - 2016-10-25

without the desire for porn, media technology would not have improved so much. you could say that sex drives technology. Without desire, nothing would possibly exist.

MisterLepton - 2016-10-30

Grab her by the pussy

Гальванизированный Труп - 2016-10-31

@MisterLepton LOL!... killary is depressed 'cause so far she's the only who wasn't grabbed

Adam Davidson - 2015-01-30

You are obviously still a fake scientist that doesn't do any real work because MY FRIEND told me so!!

Gondola Jesus - 2015-10-22

+MuscIeBomber2021 "what does the scouter say about the sarcasm level?" ITS OVER NINE THOUSAND!!!!!!

Moist Nutella - 2015-10-25

+Amy Walton What?! your scouter must be malfunctioning!

wobort8963 - 2015-11-04

+Adam Davidson lol that is a funny ass comment, holy shit you crack me up

Mark Sosa - 2015-11-08

+Adam Davidson Haaaaaaaaaa! I see what you did there.

wobort8963 - 2015-11-08

peace dude

DANG JOS - 2016-03-09

I have a new found respect for you. The determination and hard work put into this. This is what science is about at its heart!

flagmuffin1221 - 2015-09-09

Get The Slow Mo guys in to film it with a Phantom at >50,000 FPS.

AndyRational - 2015-10-28

+flagmuffin1221 I was going to suggest an own high speed camera but joining with SloMoGuys would be great!

AtotehZ - 2015-11-15

+flagmuffin1221 They had something similar. I'm not certain which model they used, but it looks like a Y-series.

Some Y-series Motion Pro cameras can film 100.000 fps.
Here's the manual of a camera in the same series.. If it's exactly that I don't know.

I TF· ·FR ME· ·R ATE TenFramesPerSecond - 2017-04-18

Too slow. This reaction needs the newest Shimadzu 10⁷ fps camera. There's obviously some sub-microsecond phenomena (eg. are those metal projections in any way dendritic in geometry?) going on here that need resolution, also some high-speed spectrographic data would be helpful.

Parker Raines - 2016-12-07

Pffft, people didn't crowdfund research, they crowdfunded more cool 'SPLOSIONS

Lynx Antarcticus - 2016-12-18

That's how all of science is funded. Few people would want to fund research into the structure or composition of stars or some distant galaxies. Most people don't give a damn about that. But cool space pics? Hell yeah, let them build the Hubble space telescope.

Lynx Antarcticus - 2016-12-18

Also, while I had no part in the crowdfunding and didn't find these videos until today, I've been curious about this exact same thing for a long time myself. I'm just glad someone else saw the same discrepancy and was in a position to research it.

Edge Is Love, Edge Is Life - 2018-07-30

ikr, thunderf00t EXPOSED, he's behind the solar freaking sodium-water explosions that can gather water from thin air and travel over 200 mph in a vacuum!

Fridgemusa - 2016-04-23

Excellent work by all the scientists involved and thank-you for sharing it with us freely :)

Ivy Berry - 2016-09-06

Yes! This opens worlds of possibilities for new energy sources and more!

knowthingman - 2015-01-30

wait for it.......

EDIT: Okay after having seen the massive interest in this wonderful idea, if all of you can now just donate $10 to me we can make this happen! (Or at the very least I promise to make a few videos about why the video gaming industry is preventing us from having SODIUM FREAKIN ROADWAYS!)

AsuhDood - 2015-10-06

+knowthingman shiet i died laughing

George Holt - 2015-11-09

+knowthingman every time it rains it will power the grid and it will DESTROY snow!

Dazzletoad - 2016-11-06

Hilarious xD

iamhughmun - 2017-03-16

knowthingman hydrogen roadways

dezastruos - 2017-05-17

that would be quite the show :)))

Steve La Dedha - 2015-11-04

I like how Phill actually does something with his patronage, his fans and delivers awesome stuff including fighting the good fight on against fascist to be a champion of thought in a world so filled with irrational backwards thoughts.

Hanno Behrens - 2016-08-05

That’s really amazing. And this is all what real science is about. See something, keep up being skeptic about something even if the whole world says: but it’s well understood! Then dig into this. With kitchen-tools! That’s where all real science starts: in small spaces, without funding, just with an observation.
And this will have great impact on many fields of science. It might even revolutionize the way nanotechnology gets working. They still have a huge power problem and this could solve it on a molecular level. With this huge energy on very tiny space!

Just my gratulations, Phil. Good work! Keep it up! And to all those people, who are with you. The world sees you. Alas, those who are interested anyway.

And what makes me especially happy about this, is that it is happening in the face of public. I can’t think of any scientific discovery that ever has been made in such a way i public like this.

The only other man I remember who was working like this was Niels Bohr, when he had seen that hot metal was changing the color of the light that it was emissing and that didn’t match with the physical theories of that time. Just by looking at it. And it is very rare to witness something like this.

The eye. The really watching eye. That’s the symbol of science.

Thank you. For all of us. Mind bending.

Adam Bartlett - 2016-09-29

I know what you mean...

Very impressive, I can see so many applications for this but only time will tell what will result but it's definitely a fine example of what science can do if the scientists are willing to let the facts lie where they lay & follow the evidence.

Science can happen anywhere if the environment supports it... Unfortunately many people refuse to allow it the chance to do anything.

It also exposes another principle that is dear to my heart, never stop thinking & looking just because the world says they already understand it well enough.

If I had done so myself, I would never have reinvented the wheel & if I had not done so, I would not of discovered the way to create truly all terrain vehicles.

If I had listened to those say the 400km distance ceiling for electric cars was impossible with today's technology, then I wouldn't of designed a system that overcame it.

If I listened to those that claim eliminating poverty is impossible, I would never have figured out the way to make poverty a thing of the past.

If I had listened to those that said there was no way to unite the prochoice & prolife camps, I would never have discovered their common ground.

If I had listened to those who said that violence by cops against the community &/or the existing crisis of violence between the police & the communities they serve;

I would never have seen the catch 22 cops face entwined by years of failure to manage properly lead them has erupted in loss of confidence in cops.

A) All cops want to make home alive & intact after work.

B) No one can operate more then 1 weapon efficiently at any given time.

C) During crisis intensification a cop can't switch between weapons if the situation rapidly changes.

D) Their various weapons are all spread out among separate tools & you can't get lethal (simply, I know it's dependent on many factors) from less lethal or less lethal from lethal.

E) The cops are forced to be heavily over loaded with needless excess.

So combine the majority of the cops kit with a single weapon that offers a firearm, contact/distance electrical weapon, pepper spray, collapsible baton, radio, flashlight, etc.

Obviously that's just the brief simple answer to the last item but it's just an example that I am not stressed if others took up.

My point is that just because the world says something does not make it true & innovation only comes from not knowing you should have known it was impossible.


Arpad Mertz - 2016-02-28

Nobel Prize dude all the way!

Irdial - 2015-10-08

What's that about new discoveries only possible in institutions?

larry johnson - 2015-01-31

Is it sad that i would do almost anything to spend one day in the lab with phill doing just these kinds of experiments??

sorry for bat english - 2015-01-31


Aeroscience - 2016-12-31

$100,000 camera for 10,000 fps? Isn't that a little low? The phantom v611 camera you just got can do several hundred thousand fps and was $15,000

Hirobian - 2015-11-14

I'm glad you went through all the trouble to discover this with the help of your colleagues. Science is meant to be questioned, revisited, re-proven, questioned and poked at again! "Is that really what is happening?"

ElectroBlud - 2016-02-28

It would be interesting to see if this reaction produces a small emp?

WR3ND - 2016-04-12

Yeah, or if that current could be utilized for something.

Arjen Mafkees - 2017-04-04

Yes, there must be some detectable emp-spike being generated by this electron flux. I'd be very curious to know.
Also, it would be supporting evidence..

DylanBFishkeeper - 2015-11-16

Utz really means it when they say their cheese balls are spicy.
But jokes aside, this is an incredible video. I'm not much into chemistry, sadly, but this video got me excited to follow the steps you and your colleagues took to push this experiment forward and contemplate the repercussions of the data you discovered. Subscribed, and looking forward to more great content! Now I've got some backlogging to do.

AKArainkit - 2015-11-14

I wish I had you as a chemistry teacher.

rdingo1 - 2015-01-31

This is why I love @Thunderf00t: he's one cool dude, he's quite brilliant, he posts the coolest videos, he fights ignorance, stupidity and superstition like some sort of freakin' super hero, and he draws some of the best and funniest comments from the coolest people on You Tube. In addition, he also draws out the hammer-heads, block-heads and bone-heads with their made-up beliefs or malevolent "causes" contrived only for personal gain to say some of the stupidest / funniest shit ever. He is one righteous bad ass!

Long live @Thunderf00t !!!

BeepingMetal - 2015-08-26

I watched this again, just because I like to hear someone so proud and happy to have made a discovery that they can clearly explain to a plebe like me :)

Ernoskij - 2019-08-04

6:12 "Says the guy doing the crazy ass explosions... but whatever!" hehe

logik100 - 2015-06-01

Made my week/year. Science at its finest.

The One - 2015-06-07

@logik100 yep :)

LoyalSol - 2015-02-28

I'm a chemist here in the US and I personally find this absolutely interesting.  Considering this was one of the reactions that got me into chemistry (well that and a few others I won't name on the internet) it is interesting people are figuring stuff out about this even though it is a long standing reaction. 

I actually focus on computational chemical so definitely I am definitely interested to see the  calculations your collaborator did.  From the looks of it those first set seem like a Quantum MD type simulation.  I'll have to skim through the paper when I get the free time to confirm this and take a look at the details.

Though I am personally a tad bit skeptical of the classical MD component just because I don't completely trust those things when it comes to fully ionic species. (Freaking polarization effects.  Messes with everything we do right?) It would still be interesting to see what the forcefields used would predict. 

I may not agree with all your points Thunderfoot, but on the science side of things I would talk with you about it over a beer. This is the kind of stuff that makes for hours worth of drunken science talk. :)

AntiSocial Atheist - 2016-09-15

I really like the periodic table of videos. between those and thunderfoot it's about half of what i watch on YouTube. The other half is Hitchens videos an Aron Ra

Antonia Fortunati - 2019-10-29

I remember watching this a year or two ago. It's still my favorite videos of yours! It's nice to see the behind the scenes, the thinking and creativity involved in experiments and research. Thank you :)

Anon Wibble - 2016-10-11

So just a question, in nuclear meltdowns, when the reactor melts through the bottom of the housing, like 3 mile island, is there a columbic reaction there?

bronzedivision - 2016-11-03

No, that is not a coulombic reaction it's just thermal, LOTS of thermal. The reactor core is STUPID HOT and melts out the bottom of the reactor vessel.

<long digression>

What's important to know is that this happens really slowly, a melted down reactor core is just a lump of CRAZY HOT debris called corium, it's analogous to lava not a cutting torch. So it's only drawn by gravity and doesn't work any faster then the floor's inability to dump excess heat. The many videos on YT of lava pushing around and then absorbing random objects is a good example of the slowness of corium movement within a reactor vessel. And in a real world situation the corium would have coolant dumped on it throughout to mitigate the damage.

As for safety well designed reactors have the reaction vessel built inside a containment vessel. If the reactor suffers a total meltdown the molten core will simply 'plop' mostly harmlessly onto the floor of the containment vessel and begin cooling into the air and floor both of which will be designed to cope with a high temperature corium mass.

An interesting fact of high temperature objects is that the hotter they are the FASTER they radiate away their heat. The more they cool the more slowly the cooling continues but most of the total heat is lost rather quickly. So while a destroyed reactor might remain above room temperature for years or decades it'll stop being a liquid in hours to days and cease being red hot in weeks to months. Once the reactor core is cool enough to fuse into a solid mass it cannot move anymore, the floors of containment vessels are made of several meters thick of concrete and can easily cope with a reactor core gradually melting through it while it cools into a solid mass of uranium and crud.

A good example of this in the real world was Chernobyl, a very badly designed reactor that had no containment vessel. The reactor core burned out the bottom of the reaction chamber and was quite happily falling through the whole structure to the ground where it would've made a big whole in the dirt and polluted the environment. Probably around a few dozen feet deep, before stopping. Side note, the China Syndrome is total fiction.

In order to prevent the melted down core from containment the ground water. The Russian disaster workers BUILT, on the spot, a concrete floor in a sub-basement below the reactor to catch the falling liquid core that was melting through the interior of the power plant. Due to the radiation and destruction of the upper floors the workers were forced to dig a tunnel from a safe area to a subbasement under the reactor before pouring the new concrete containment floor could even begin, under the falling reactor. This work took around three weeks, and successfully kept the corium inside the structure.

This is I think a good example of how a melted down reactor is just SLOW melting not a coulombic reaction where electrostatic repulsion causes the mass to QUICKLY fly apart.

</long digression>

Further side not, Three Mile Island did not suffer a breach of it's reaction vessel. All of the destroyed core stayed inside the reactor. But it had an excellent containment vessel so if the worst had happened it 'probably' wouldn't have been too dramatic.

Anon Wibble - 2016-11-03

@bronzedivision Thanks for the thought-provoking analysis :) 

marmaladekamikaze - 2017-01-05

(1) The three mile island meltdown was a partial meltdown and thus none of your "melting thru the bottom of the reactor pressure vessel occurred.
(2) The Coulomb explosion effect, is largely behind the mechanism of a nuclear explosion. Take uranium as an example, upon fissioning, the reaction products are all positively charged ions, typical products of fissioning are Kr+ and Br+ krypton and bromine ions, there are not enough electrons to go around to form stable atoms for these two elements as after all, you're only starting with the 92 that the uranium atom had, and so these two common fission products, repel each other rapidly, to say the least.

Anon Wibble - 2017-01-05

Cool :)

Tim Williams - 2015-01-31

Many thanks for sharing all this with us on YT. Kinda makes me feel privileged to have had an inside peek at the research.

leon13noelspy - 2016-04-20

+Thunderf00t recently i found a video where someone pours molten sodium chloride into a tank of water and then an explosion occurs... do you have an explanation for it? the video is from TheBackyardScientist

CareerKnight - 2018-09-18

I rewatched this video again after seeing TheBackyardScientist video for the first time.

MonkeyKong - 2017-05-22

6:38 you can see that plunging it into water pulls air down with it...

Afqwa - 2015-10-28

I'm jealous. Wish I could be involved in this sort of thing.

Snore Lax - 2015-01-31

And here I thought the high speed camera would reveal that the patriarchy was responsible for all these explosions.

Andrew Galin - 2019-07-12

Still being enjoyed and appreciated today 2019

R.B. - 2015-03-28

The way you played this out on youtube is fantastic TF, this is the kind of future I hope for.

Nick Elstein - 2015-01-31

@Thunderf00t Did you ever do a vid explaining what the bottle with two spoons through it was for? (I remember that being a question you posed for the audience to guess at, but I can't recall it ever being revealed.) 

Also, huge congrats on the fruits of this endeavour! :D 

Listen Always - 2015-02-24

9:50 O_o that escalated quickly :D
NICE vid btw

spinNspiral - 2016-05-22

Youtube is amazing with its content. Science is great, especially when its visible to the public, because it belongs to the public!

Kelsyer's Cluster - 2015-12-11

okay. so strange thing happened. i linked this video to my mother. her reaction was to say i was a "explosive loving terrorist"
just to prove how unrealistic this truly is to use as a terrorist weapon, would anyone be willing to do the math on what you would need? im fairly sure it would take a space much larger then a swimming pool to do it. much less the shear amount of sodium needed. but is this as unrealistic an accusation as i think? i mean not even trying to understand why she thinks this of me. i just cut contact. that is far to offensive to hear from my mother. much less the reason i linked it was that she was at one time a safety technician at boeing. an i thought, hmmm this makes foundry's safer. nothing more. an she called me a terrorist for it. wow the faith i have in her safety help now lol.

Legate Lanius - 2016-01-09

@kelsyer gryphon Now that's an interesting concept.

Kelsyer's Cluster - 2016-01-09

well i mean as far as i have thought out it would just move. it wouldnt do much else as i have thought it out atm. 

Kelsyer's Cluster - 2016-01-09

ohhh good reference you will get. my mom's idea is as realistic as the nutronium  airship. 

MrVirus9898 - 2016-01-18

+kelsyer gryphon Liking explosions does not make one a terrorist, it makes one an American. Explosives have been a part of our culture for as long as the USA has existed. Americans love bombs so much, that we seek to detonate them as part of our Independence celebration, our New Years celebration, and if you are a football fan you may blow something up every time your team wins. Its what we do.

The problem with a pure sodium IED is it's yield. To get a good explosive, you need a strong consistent yield during the chemical reaction. Sodium fire has an inconsistent yield because of how hard it is to predict how long it will take to burn, and if that burn will hit that "sweet spot". Further more oxidization, and impurities in the water can effect the yield of the reaction. Yes someone could get hurt, even killed by this stuff, but if the goal destruction, there are much more efficient and consistent ways of going about this.

Convincing your mother that it is unrealistic is foolish, even if it IS unrealistic. Instead, it would be wise to understand why she thinks you are a terrorist. Are you a terrorist?

Kelsyer's Cluster - 2016-01-18

@MrVirus9898 see your exactly on the points i told her lol 

Mandelbrot Set - 2015-08-29

Wow, I'd never heard of this kind of explosion before, this is really interesting to see and I can't wait for more discoveries and innovations with this.

Hank Larsen - 2015-02-08

Well done. Inspirational in fact. Thank you for your hard work and contribution to our understanding of this phenomena.

Nihilus - 2015-11-14


Great shot

bambam144 - 2015-12-02

fantastic job

TheSpeculatingApe - 2015-03-01

"High speed camera reveals why sodium explodes!"
Here's an interesting look at the YouTube-science interface and the evolution of an experiment that led to published research with practical, life-saving implications. Includes cool high-speed video of explosions.

It's also a great example of why we need to encourage science education. There's still a lot of things we don't understand in this world, and modern science has proven to be one of the best ways to figure those things out.

Trigger Hippy - 2015-12-31

nice work - that "spikey" expansion shot is awesome. Cracking bit of science!