Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Love (Fire) Triangle

Want to put out a candle without using your breath or water?

For this experiment you will need:
  • A Candle
  • A Box of matches
  • An honourable adult
Normally for something to burn it needs three things – heat, fuel and oxygen. 

So, let’s light a match. The head of the match is made up of sulphur and finely ground glass. The friction of the glass and the sand on the box cause heat to build. This heat ignites the sulphur which is our fuel.  There is oxygen around the match in the air – so now we have a complete triangle.  Taaaadaaa!  We have a flame. 

Now for some fun …
  1. Light one of the candles.
  2. Wait a minute and then light a match
  3. Blow out the candle and QUICKLY lower the lit match so it hovers closely over the wick (without touching it)
  4.  You should see the flame ‘jump’ from the match to the candle.
Why does this happen?

Remember we need heat, fuel and oxygen to create fire.

Heat – that has come from the lit match.
Oxygen – in the air around the candle.
Fuel – (here’s the tricky bit)…. before we blew out the candle the heat had warmed up the wax.  Paraffin in the wax had started to vaporise.  This vaporised wax becomes our fuel source and immediately transfers to the wick!

Try this experiment out with a candle that hasn’t been lit in a while…. does it work?

Hope you are enjoying Science Week.  We certainly are!  Had an awesome day at Laingholm Primary School today and had great fun with the students at Waikowhai Intermediate yesterday.  Space Chick Steve (the star of our Move It experience) is centre stage again tomorrow at Saint Kentigern College!  Catch you tomorrow on our Science in a Blog.

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