Candle and carbon dioxide

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Candle and carbon dioxide
Age Range all ages
Group Size small (1-5), medium (6-20)
Setting indoors
Setup Time medium (6-30 min)
Duration medium (11-30 min)
Subjects states of matter, air
Key terms gas, carbon dioxide, oxygen
Materials candle, shallow glass jar, clay, matches, vinegar, baking soda, dry ice (optional)
Presentation Style demonstration

Brief Description

Students will observe carbon dioxide being poured onto a lit candle. The candle will go out!

Scientific Background

A flame needs three things to burn: 1) oxygen, 2) fuel, 3) a spark. Without one of these things a flame will go out or not even start at all. Carbon Dioxide contains oxygen atoms but they are bonded to Carbon. This means that the oxygen from carbon dioxide cannot be used by a flame. In the presence of carbon dioxide, a flame will go out. Carbon dioxide is the same molecule we breath out. It can also be created as a by product of the chemical reaction that occurs with vinegar and baking soda are mixed. Carbon dioxide also is heavier than air.

This Is How You Play

  1. put a ball of clay in the bottom of a shallow glass jar.
  2. push the bottom of a candle into the clay so the candle can stand up on its own.
  3. in a separate jar, mix together baking soda and vinegar to create a bubble reaction.
  4. After the reaction, carbon dioxide will be resting in the jar.
  5. Light the candle in the jar with the clay on the bottom.
  6. Pour the heavy carbon dioxide gas into the jar with the lit candle. Make sure you don't pour in any actual liquid. The candle should go out.

Modification Dry ice is a fun substitute for the baking soda and vinegar reaction. Dry ice is froze carbon dioxide. The gas from dry ice works just as well. Just put dry ice in the same jar substituting the baking soda and vinegar.


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