Try This at Home: Miracle Paper
The three ingredients required for fire are fuel, oxygen, and heat.
What You Need
- 60 mL (1/4 cup) water
- Bowl or cup
- Paper towel or paper napkin
- Matches or lighter
- 180 mL (3/4 cup) rubbing alcohol, ethanol or isopropyl
What To Do
Make sure you have an adult with you to supervise this experiment.
Mix the rubbing alcohol and water together in the bowl or cup.
Soak the paper towel or napkin in the solution until totally wet, then remove with the tongs.
Hold the wet paper up in the air with the tongs and light it on fire.
Let the paper burn for up to 30 seconds, then blow the flame out.
Observe what happened. Which components burned and which remained intact? Can you think of a reason why this might happen?
When the paper is lit on fire, the alcohol in the solution starts to burn. However, the water in the solution absorbs the heat produced by the flame. This prevents the paper from ever becoming hot enough to ignite.
Combustion reactions inside of an engine drive the pistons that make your car wheels move!