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This exercise aimed at establishing the basic components of a candle, the occurring events when a candle burns, proof that burning, like the burning candle, requires oxygen to take place. Additionally, the experiment aimed at deciphering the products that are produced when a…
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The candle experiment Task: The candle experiment This exercise aimed at establishing the basic components of a candle, the occurring events when a candle burns, proof that burning, like the burning candle, requires oxygen to take place. Additionally, the experiment aimed at deciphering the products that are produced when a candle burns. The following report provides detailed information about the results of this experiment.
The burning candle experiment is an increasingly vital experiment. Its performance aims at investigating the basic aspects of a candle and the subsequent components that results from its burning. In particular, report discusses the result of the experiment and includes their meaning within the context of chemistry.
Experiment results
The first experiment dealt with the observations when a candle is lit. On lighting the candle, only its wick burnt. However, after about 5 seconds, the heat from the burning weak melted some candle. This had the effect of increasingly brightening the flame from the candle. It seemed like the molten candle was acting as the flame’s source of fuel.
The experiment aimed at establishing if oxygen was necessary for the sustenance of a burning process. When the burning candle was covered with a 400ml beaker, it burned for about 10 seconds before going off. A repeat of the procedure produced a similar result. The candle went off after 10 seconds.
The third experiment involved testing for carbon dioxide. This entailed collecting the contents of the overturned beaker then testing its content with limewater. When limewater was immediately swirled inside the 400ml beaker, the contents immediately turned cloudy.
The fourth experiment entailed the examination if water was a by-product in the burning candle. When the 400ml beaker was held upside down over the candle. The bottom of the beaker became immediately moist. However, when the beaker was held longer over the candle, the moisture like substance dried leaving behind a round patch.
Discussion of results
According to O’Hare (2007), when a candle burns, combustion takes place and both carbon dioxide and water are the resulting products. Reportedly, the candle is a type of fuel called a hydrocarbon. Hydrocarbons are rich in carbon and hydrogen molecules. Additionally, its weak structure means that it has a lower melting point. That is why in the first experiment, it was observed that the candle immediately began to melt when the wick was lit. The brightening of the candle was due to an exposure to a substantial amount of fuel. O’Hare (2007) denotes that when a hydrocarbon like a candle burns, it follows the chemical equation shown below.
Hydrocarbon + O2 = CO2 + H2O……………………..Equation 1
When the 400ml beaker was used to cover the beaker, the candle died after about 10 seconds. O’Hare (2007) states that for any combustion process to take place, there must be present a source of oxygen. The beaker cut off the supply of oxygen to the burning candle. This resulted in the terminated burning of the candle. The amount of oxygen in the beaker could only last for 10 seconds.
The third test aimed at establishing if carbon dioxide was part of the by-products in the combustion of a candle. The test turned positive as only carbon dioxide readily turned cloudy in the presence of limewater.
The above experiment confirms that the combustion of a candle results in the derivation of both H20 and CO2. Additionally, oxygen is essential for combustion to occur.
I would like to thank my chemistry teacher for providing me with key textbooks from where I extracted the literature on combustion of hydrocarbons.
Knill, O. (2006). Getting the facts right
Retrieved from
O’Hare, M. (2007). How to Fossil your hamster. London, UK: Profile Books
Appendices (Knill, 2006)
i. O2 + x Cn H 2n+2 = y C O 2 + z H 2 O ……………………..Equation 1
n x = y (C atom balance)
(2n+2) x = 2 z (H atom balance)
2 = 2 y + z (O atom balance)
ii. Ideal gas law
p V = N k T (O’Hare, 2007) Read More
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