3.2 The "Party Popper" Reaction

Chemical Concept Demonstrated: Balanced chemical equations


  • Pull the string on one of the "Champagne Party Poppers."


    The Party Popper detonates.  There is a popping noise and a release of streamers associated with the detonation.

Explanation (including important chemical equations):

    Each of the Party Poppers contains less than .25 grains of a mixture of potassium chlorate, antimony sulfide, and phosphorus.  The overall reaction is as follows:

    28 KClO3 (s) + 6 Sb2S3 (s) + 3 P4 (s) -> 28 KCl (s) + 3 P4O10 (s) + 6 Sb2O3 (s) + 18 SO2 (g)

    It should be noted that the explosion occurs because of the sudden evolution of the SO2 gas.

    On the basis of the stoichiometry presented, the reaction mixture should be 58.7% KClO3, 34.9% Sb2S3, and 6.4% P4.   The actual reaction mixture is 63% KClO3, 31% Sb2S3, and 6% P4, which means there is a slight excess of both potassium chlorate and phosphorus.