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Burning Without Flame

This is a really cool science experiment! It also makes a pretty neat science trick. And best of all its quick, simple, and uses household items.

SUPPLIES:

Handful of steel wool (like a steel wool scrubbing pad)*
Clear drinking glass
Water
Dish or saucer

DIRECTIONS:

1. Press a handful of steel wool firmly into a glass and moisten it.

2. Pour water into a dish or saucer.

3. Invert the glass into the water.



What happens? At first the air in the glass prevents the water from entering. But then, the water level in the dish slowly becomes lower than the water level in the glass.

Why? After the steel wool is moistened, it begins to rust. The iron combines with the oxygen in the air. This process is called combustion or oxidation. This process gives off a very, very small amount of heat. Heat can only be created when oxygen is used up. The air in the glass consists of about one-fifth oxygen. The oxidation process uses up the oxygen. The water in the glass will rise until it fills about one-fifth of the space, taking the place of the oxygen that was used.

*While you can use the steel wool scrubbing pads that have soap on them (such as the name brand SOS), it is better if you try and use the pads that do not have soap on them. Or, you can recycle the soapy steel wool pads after you’ve used all the soapy parts up in cleaning.

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