Aluminum and Bromine

Metals and nonmetals often combine quite vigorously to produce ionic compounds. For example, sodium metal and chlorine gas combine directly to produce sodium chloride, ordinary table salt. A similar reaction that is a bit easier to perform is the reaction between aluminum and bromine. In this reaction, aluminum metal combines with elemental bromine to produce aluminum bromine. The reaction can be represented with the following equation.

3Br2 + 2Al = 2AlBr3

Bromine is poured into a beaker. Bromine is very volatile; note the cloud of bromine vapor Ordinary aluminum foil is added
The reaction takes a few seconds to begin; aluminum has an oxide coating which must first be removed. The reaction proceeds with sparks, fire and smoke
If you watch closely towards the end you can pieces of aluminum floating on top of the bromine. One piece of aluminum burns particularly brightly

Hazards: Reactions such as this should only be performed by qualified personnel. Elemental bromine is highly toxic and is irritating to the skin and eyes. Furthermore, it has a low vapor pressure and therefore evaporates readily. Care should be taken to avoid all skin contact and exposure to vapors. Perform only in a fully functional fume hood.

Download the video here
(Windows AVI format, Video9 compression)

Return to Reactions Page