Prove that two solids can react together by using white lead nitrate and white potassium iodide to make yellow lead iodide.


This is a very quick demonstration showing that two solids can react together. White lead nitrate and white potassium iodide react to make yellow lead iodide.

Lesson organisation

This demonstration is very quick and will take no more than 2 minutes.

Apparatus Chemicals

For one demonstration:

Eye protection

A small screw-top jar


Weighing boats or similar, 2


Potassium iodide, 20g

Refer to Health & Safety and Technical notes section below for additional information.

Health & Safety and Technical notes

Read our standard health & safety guidance

Wear eye protection and wash hands after the demonstration.

Lead nitrate, Pb(NO3)2(s), (TOXIC, DANGEROUS FOR THE ENVIRONMENT) - see CLEAPSS Hazcard.

Potassium iodide, KI(s) - see CLEAPSS Hazcard.

1 The resulting solid mixture from the demonstration should be retained in a sealed container for professional disposal.


a Weigh out equal masses of both compounds. These are then in approximately the stoichiometric ratio. Between 10 g and 20 g of each is suitable.

b Mix the solids in a screw topped jar and shake for several seconds. The yellow colour of lead iodide will be seen.

c Make a little more of the mixture and place it quickly into a beaker containing a little water. The reaction will be much more rapid.

Teaching notes

The demonstration might have more impact if the jar is opaque and the yellow product can be poured out and shown to the unsuspecting audience. Have a white background available.

Point out that for a reaction ot occur, particles of the reactants must meet. This is much easier in solution (where the particles are free to move) than in the solid state.

The reaction is:

Pb(NO3)2(s) + 2KI(s) →  2KNO3(s) + PbI2(s)

All of these compounds are white except lead iodide, which is yellow.

Lead ethanoate can be substituted for lead nitrate, but the reaction is much slower.

The experiment  Diffusion in liquids is a class practical using the same compounds but as solutions.

Health & Safety checked, 2016


This Practical Chemistry resource was developed by the Nuffield Foundation and the Royal Society of Chemistry.

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Page last updated October 2015