Which flame-retardant material is most effective?

3.5 based on 34 ratings

Updated on Feb 06, 2012

Grade Level: 8th – 10th; Type: Chemistry


This science project compares the ignition rates of various types of flame-retardant materials.

Research Question:

Which flame-retardant material is most effective?

Take a look at a pair of kid’s pajamas or a store-bought Halloween costume. Odds are, it is made of flame-retardant material. But which flame retardant material works the best? Test out several pieces with this science project.


  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Pieces of flame-retardant fabric (e.g., old Halloween costumes)
  • Wooden splints
  • Rubber bands
  • Candle
  • Matches
  • Cup of water

Experimental Procedure

  1. Cut five one-inch squares from each piece of flame-retardant fabric.
  2. Place the point of a splint in the center of one of the squares of fabric.
  3. Pull the edges of the fabric up around the splint and use a rubber band to secure the fabric to the splint. Repeat this process with each of the pieces of fabric.
  4. Light the candle. Make sure to keep a cup of water near the candle to extinguish it when necessary.
  5. Place the end of one fabric-covered splint right at the tip of the flame. Time exactly how long it takes for the splint to catch on fire. Dunk the splint into the water to extinguish it.
  6. Repeat this process five times with each of the fabrics, using a different splint each time.
  7. Graph your data using a bar graph. Which material ignited the most quickly? What do your results imply about how flame retardant each material is?

Terms/Concepts: How do flame-retardant materials work?; Which garment use flame-retardant materials?


First Place Science Fair Projects for Inquisitive Kids, by Elizabeth Snoke Harris. Pp. 98-99.

Keren Perles has worked as an educational writer, editor, teacher, and tutor of all ages. Her experience spans the subject areas, from science and math, to English and the Hebrew language.

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