Which Part of the Flame is the Hottest?

4.1 based on 25 ratings

Updated on Sep 07, 2012

Grade Level: 7th-9th; Type: Chemistry


Find out which part of a flame burns wood (in this case, a toothpick) the fastest and also if this is true for all types of flames such as candle-flame, burners, and lighters.

Research Questions:

  • Does the color of the flame indicate temperature?
  • Does the speed of the burn indicate temperature?

A candle is one of the earliest forms of lighting. It is commonly made with a wax substance with a cotton string in the center called the “wick”. The wick is lit with a source of fire and the candle lasts until all the wax melts.

Matches are made from a tiny piece of thin wood. One end is coating with a substance that ignites due to friction on a given surface. This substance is usually a form of phosphorus.

Lighters provide flame in the form of liquid gas. The liquid gas is housed inside a casing and as the lighter is pressed, the liquid is drawn up and manifested in the form of fire. When the ignition is released, the flame is put out.

A bunsen burner is commonly used in a laboratory for heating, sterilization and combustion. The source of the flame is continuous gas. Depending on how open the airhole of the burner is, it produces a flame of different color and height.


  • Box of toothpicks
  • Candle
  • Bunsen burner
  • Matches
  • Lighters
  • Bowl of water

Experimental Procedure

  1. Light a candle.
  2. Take one toothpick and stick one end in the center of the flame until it starts to burn. How fast did that happen? Quickly put the burnt toothpick in the water.
  3. Now, stick the end of another toothpick close to the base of the flame. How fast did that burn? Quickly put the burnt toothpick in the water.
  4. Finally, stick the end of a new toothpick at the tip of the flame at the top. How fast did that burn?
  5. Repeat steps 2-4 for the flames of the bunsen burner, matches, and lighter. Do you spot any differences in burning speed?
  6. Record your results.

Suggested Chart




Candle Flame

Bunsen Burner



Terms/Concepts: Flame/fire; Combustion/ burning; Different types of flames


Sofia PC is currently a college student with a deep interest in science who is aspiring to become a writer. She writes about all sorts of things across all subjects including, but not limited to; science, crafts, and fashion. She hopes to become a good writer so she can share her thoughts and experiences with the world and future generations.

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