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Mystery Powders

Mystery Powders Event Guidelines

Description: Identify a mixture of common white household powders

Number of Participants: 2

Approximate Time: 20 minutes

The Competition: Teams of 2 will identify 3 mixtures of white powder by using

the given materials (water, vinegar, etc.). Teams are allowed to bring a
prepared cheat sheet to use during the competition.

Scoring: The team with the greatest correct number of powders identified will
be the winner. In case of a tie, the team with the most complete data table will
be declared the winner.
Lab Safety
● NEVER taste an unknown substance.
● Don’t directly smell or inhale a substance.
● When testing using fire, always wait for
adult supervision.
● Be careful when handling the chemical
● In this event, you are not allowed to directly
touch the powders.

Safety first!
Properties of Sugar
● Sugar is a white crystalline solid. You should be able
to observe this by using a magnifying glass.
● Sugar partially dissolves in vinegar and forms a
large bead.
● Sugar is very soluble in water… meaning that it
dissolves easily in water.
● Iodine will stay the same color (light brown) when
tested on sugar.
● In heat, sugar will melt, bubble, smoke, caramelize,
turn black, and finally harden. The heat test is a
good way to detect sugar!
Melted Sugar
Properties of Salt
● Salt particles are cube-shaped crystals,
easily observable using a magnifying
● Salt will not react with vinegar.
● Salt will dissolve in water.
● Salt (NaCl) is an ionic compound, meaning
that its bonds are strong and won’t break
easily, even through chemical means.
○ When testing with iodine, salt will turn light
brown, the same color as the iodine.
○ Salt will not react with vinegar.
Properties of Flour
● Flour is a fine powder.
● Flour does not react chemically
with vinegar.
● Flour does not react with water
● Turns dark purple with iodine.
● When burning flour, it will turn
brown or black, and smell a little
like bread. (WAFT, don’t directly
Properties of Baking Soda ● Baking soda is also called sodium
bicarbonate (NaHCO3).
● It is a fine, white powder.
● Baking soda + vinegar = chemical
reaction! (produces fizzy gas
● Soluble in water.
● When dissolved in water, it will
turn the water a milky white color.
● Baking soda won’t have a visible
change with iodine.
Which test works best for which powder?
Physical properties

Solubility in water

Iodine test

Vinegar test

Heat test
● Get into groups of 2-3
● Send one person to come up and get the materials
○ 2 colored paper
○ 2 small cups
○ 1 spoon
● We will give you two powder mixtures to figure out
○ Powders will not include those that need a heat test
● Test the powders in the cups and on the colored sheet of paper