Experiments You Can Do at Home - But Probably Shouldn't

Chapter 6
Natural Wonders » Metal's Hidden Treasure

Making Silicon from Sand

Soak metal in muriatic acid to reveal the crystals locked away inside. The phrase "passing the acid test" gained popularity in the gold-rush years of the 1850s when miners used strong acids to determine whether the metal they had found was real gold or not. If it bubbled and frothed on contact with acid, it wasn't gold. But even these failures produced something interesting and beautiful.

When pure metals cool, they solidify into intricately interlocked crystals. You can't see the crystals because they fit together perfectly to form what appears to be a uniform mass with a smooth, solid surface. But acid can reveal the structure inside.

Buy the Book

Mad Science - Buy the Book
Theo Gray's Mad Science

Order Now

Popular Science

Buy Posters
& Merchandise

Posters, 3D Prints and Place Mats Element Cards Personalized Element Banners

Visit Shop