Contact Information

  • Randy Sullivan
  • Lecture Demonstrator
  • Chemistry
  • Univ. of Oregon
  • Eugene, OR 97403
(541) 346 - 4391

Household Fenton's Reagent: A Green Homogeneous Catalysis Demo

Demo Procedure

Author Contact:


"Household Fenton's Reagent: A Green Homogeneous Catalysis Demo" uses household chemicals to illustrate homogeneous catalysis and a common method of treating contaminated groundwater. This demo would be useful in the high school chemistry classroom or a university level general chemistry course. Fenton's reagent, a combination of iron(II) ion and hydrogen peroxide, is a powerful oxidizing agent in which the iron functions as a catalyst. In this demo, the Fenton's reagent forms a dark colored catalytic complex with potassium hydrogen tartrate (cream of tartar), oxidizing it to carbon dioxide. The reaction mixture darkens, bubbles vigorously, and heats up.

This demo is unusual in that, not only is it green in the sense that it uses relatively non-hazardous household products, but also in that it illustrates a procedure that is currently being used in environmental remediation.

Summary prepared January 2009 by Randy Sullivan at the University of Oregon.


Sullivan, R. Household Fenton's Reagent: A Green Homogeneous Catalysis Demo. pages/ detail.php?s=Fenton &page=1 &id=3156f33e71e062d7257edc5efcef6e7e# (accessed November 2011).

Category Descriptors

Chemistry Concepts
  • Aqueous Solution Chemistry
  • Kinetics
  • Oxidation/Reduction Chemistry
Green Chemistry Principles
  • Design for Degradation
  • Minimize the Potential for Accidents
  • Use Catalysts
  • Use Safer Solvents/Reaction Conditions
Chemistry Subdiscipline
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry
Target Audience
  • Colleges/Universities
  • General Public
  • Secondary Schools
  • Internet Sources