Traveling Flame

Here's what you'll need...
  • a candle
  • match or lighter
  • eye protection
  • an adult helper

Our experiment this week is a very simple science experiment that you may have conducted and never even noticed!

You'll need a candle, something to light the candle and an adult helper since we are doing a fire experiment. Also, we recommend putting on a pair of safety glasses and doing your best mad scientist laugh.

For the experiment we're going to light the candle and then blow it out. Now here's the cool part! Once you've blown out the candle, you'll probably notice smoke coming still rising from the top. Strike another match and place the flame near the smoke. You might see the candle suddenly light again!

So why does the candle light when you touch the match to the smoke? There is actually some vaporized candle wax in that smoke. Fire needs three basic things - oxygen, fuel and heat. The air provides us the oxygen. The match gives us the heat to light another flame. And the candle's wax is the fuel we are burning.

When we blow out the candle, there can be enough vaporized fuel streaming from the wick into the air that we can actually light that trace amount of fuel and it will travel back to the wick and relight our candle.

There are lots of ways you can investigate this experiment. Does one brand of candle do this trick better than others? Does a candle made of Bee's Wax work better or worse than other types of candles? Does the size of the candle matter? The options are endless!

We'd love to hear about your experiments. Please share your results with us. Have fun! Do science!