Candle in a Vacuum

A burning candle in a Vacu-Vin food storage container.


A Vacu-Vin® food storage container

A candle and matches


Light the candle, put the candle into the vacu-vin bottle.

To Do and Notice

Pump the air out of the bottle.

Notice that the candle flame gets dimmer.

Notice that the yellow part of the candle flame goes away and that the blue part becomes more prominent.

What's Going On?

In lower air pressure the oxygen flow to the candle is reduced.

What oxygen does convect and diffuse into the candle flame is used up by the initial combustion process which produces the blue flame so that there is little oxygen left to continue the combustion of the carbon soot that produces the yellow part of the flame.

Activity by Paul Doherty

From an original activity by Marie Wallum and Patrik Waldenstrom.

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Scientific Explorations with Paul Doherty

© 2000

1 Feb 2000