Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Oh No! Co2!

Yesterday we discovered that when the candle burns it releases carbon dioxide.  Inside a closed space, like a jar, the mix of gases changes due to the rising levels of carbon dioxide.  The flame needs access to oxygen to aid the burning process but this new mixture of gasses makes this impossible – as a result the flame goes out.    

Today’s experiment will highlight how carbon dioxide is a flame’s worst enemy!

You will need:

  • A tea light
  • 2 glasses
  • Tap water
  • Baking powder
  • Vinegar
  • Matches
  • A paper towel
  • A trustworthy adult

  1. Put some vinegar into a glass (about ¼ fill).
  2. Add a heaped teaspoon of baking powder to the vinegar.
  3. QUICKLY place the paper towel over the glass.
  4. Fill up the other glass with water (about ¾ of the way up).
  5. Float the tea light on the water and light it.
  6. When the fizzing reaction has died down a bit, take the paper towel off the glass and pour the invisible carbon dioxide gas into the glass with the flame.
  7. ‘Magically’ the flame should go out.

As we know the vinegar and baking powder reaction produces carbon dioxide.  When we pour the carbon dioxide onto the flame, it’s the heaviest gas in the mixture and pushes the other gases aside.  Now the flame doesn’t have access enough oxygen which it needs to aid the burning process – so it goes out!

More Science Week fun tomorrow!

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