Common Gases

The purpose of this page is to discuss some common gases and their properties, both chemical and physical. These are gases that can be created in the lab using fairly common reagents. The reaction and methods of preparation will also be discussed.

Carbon Dioxide

Carbon dioxide can be produced in several ways. The video below shows the decomposition of a carbonate.

Copper(II) carbonate is heated in a beaker so an environment of carbon dioxide is created as it decomposes. A lit piece of magnesium is placed inside and reacts strongly with the carbon dioxide. In the combustion of hydrocarbons, the presence of carbon dioxide (a product of the combustion) will extinguish a flame. Here, the carbon dioxide increases the vigor of magnesium's oxidation.


Hydrogen gas can be produced from the action of an acid on a metal.

Zinc reacts with sulfuric acid vigorously to yield aqueous zinc sulfate and hydrogen gas.

Nitrogen Dioxide

A copper penny is added to concentrated nitric acid. The visible products are nitrogen dioxide and copper (II) nitrate


After heating potassium chlorate, a hot oxygen environment is produced. This allows for the spontaneous combustion of a Peep, which is made of sucrose. The decomposition of a metal chlorate will always yield a metal chloride and oxygen gas. Potassium chlorate and sodium chlorate are commonly used for this purpose.