Grade Level: 6th to 8th; Type: Physical Science
This experiment will allow students to investigate the relationship between the temperature of a candle and its burn rate.
- Does the temperature of a candle affect how long it will burn?
- Will a candle burn longer in a warmer room or a cooler room?
Candles were once used as a main source of heat and light. For this reason, more candles were lit during the fall and winter months. Will candles last longer if the temperature is warm or cool?
- 6 identical candles
- Thermometer or thermostat
- Measure the length of the candles and the candlewicks to ensure that they are all equal.
- Wrap three of the candles tightly in plastic wrap to prevent moisture from reaching the wick.
- Place the three wrapped candles in a refrigerator overnight. Make note of the temperature setting in the refrigerator.
- Place the other three candles at room temperature. Check the thermostat to ensure that the room temperature is at least 20 degrees higher than the temperature in the refrigerator.
- Remove the candles from the refrigerator and immediately light them.
- Allow the candles to burn for 30 minutes.
- Put the flame out on the candles.
- Wait for the candles to cool and then measure the candle length.
- Record the decrease in candle length after burning.
- Repeat steps 6-9 using the room temperature candles.
- Do you see similar decreases among all of the refrigerator candles? Do you see similar decreases among all of the room temperature candles? Is there a relationship between the temperature of the candle and the rate at which it burns? Will a candle burn faster or slower in the winter?
Terms/Concepts: burn rate, temperature
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