CAUTION! WHEN DRY, NITROGEN TRIIODIDE IS EXTREMELY UNSTABLE AND CAN DETONATE UNEXPECTEDLY. A SLIGHT TOUCH OR EVEN MOVEMENT OF AIR CAN SET OFF THE LOUD EXPLOSION. In contrast, wet nitrogen triiodide is relatively safe to handle.
When dry, nitrogen triiodide is extremely unstable and can detonate unexpectedly. This demo produces a loud explosion. You may wish to cover your ears. Ammonia and iodine cause burns. Avoid contact.
50 mL beaker
feather mounted on a long pointer
ringstand with three iron rings
To detonate, touch the bottom circle with a feather mounted on a long pole. The explosion will detonate the other two portions.
The decomposition of nitrogen triiodide is expressed in the following balanced equation:
8NH3 + NI3 ==> 5N2 + 6NH4I + 9I2