Put Out the Fire!

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Author: Nancy Rogers Bosse

Grade Level: 5th - 6th; Type: Chemistry


To simulate how a fire extinguisher is used to put out a fire 

Research Questions:

  • What causes fire to burn?
  • What puts a fire out?
  • How does a fire extinguisher work?

Fire extinguishers work by using carbon dioxide to extinguishing the oxygen. A fire needs oxygen to burn. The carbon dioxide suffocates the fire. Fire fighters use this science in their daily work.  

In this science project, baking powder and vinegar are used to simulate the action of a fire extinguisher


  • Clear glass jar
  • Small ball of clay
  • Small birthday candle
  • Matches
  • 3 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • Measuring spoons 

Experimental Procedure:

  1. Gather the necessary materials.
  2. Place a small ball of clay into the bottom of the glass jar. Stick the candle into the clay so that it stands upright.
  3. Pour the baking powder into the jar around the bottom of the candle. Be careful not to get the baking powder on the candle.
  4. Have an adult light the candle.
  5. Gently pour the vinegar down the side of the jar avoiding the flame. What happens to the flame? Record the results. 



extinguish: to put out 

oxygen: element in the atmosphere necessary for life 

carbon dioxide: element formed during respiration 


Fire needs oxygen to burn. When oxygen is removed from a fire, the fire goes out.


“How Fire Extinguishers Work” by Tom Harris at 

“How Fire Works” by Tom Harris at 

“Fire Safety” at Kids 

Fire Extinguisher: 101 at


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