ActivitiesScience

Light My Fire

Our power went out. It was evening and the sun was down so the kids freaked out at first. They had moved our emergency flashlights so chaos reigned for a minute or two, but flashlights were found, candles were lit, and kids were herded onto the couch. By then, the power outage had become an adventure. We ate cheese and crackers in the living room and read some books, and then I remembered something.

Science! That’s what I remembered. A few days before I’d read you could relight candles through their own smoke and here we had the perfect chance to try it. I handed Mr. S. our candle lighter thingie* and set him to work. He failed the first couple of times, but after that he was relighting candles like a pro while the rest of us cheered him on. You just blow out your candle and hold your lit match or lighter in the smoke and poof! Your candle is burning again. It helps to be quick, and Mr. S. said he kept accidentally blowing out the lighter along with the candle.

This works (and of course we told the kids) because the smoke is partly vaporized candle wax. If you can light that vaporized wax before it disperses, the flame will follow that wax back to your candle wick and relight it. It’s a cheap and easy experiment and my kids ate it right up. If your kids are old enough to play with fire, they can even try it themselves.

*Seriously, what is that called? It’s basically just a lighter but longer so you can light candles and grills . . . the internet seems torn between ‘candle lighter’ and ‘multi-purpose’ lighter.

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Jo S

Jo S

Jo S. is more scared of you than you are of her. She's a stay-at-home mom in the heart of Utah, where three kids is considered a small family. She cooks, crochets, blogs, and runs a small but dedicated skeptical book club.

4 Comments

  1. John
    January 10, 2014 at 12:31 pm —

    We call them “stick lighters” around here (North of Chicago)

    • January 10, 2014 at 12:35 pm —

      Stick lighters, eh? Yeah, that totally makes sense. Maybe if I say it enough, that’ll catch on around here. 😉

    • January 10, 2014 at 1:35 pm —

      I call mine the “flaming stick o’ death” but I have a flare for the dramatic.

      • January 10, 2014 at 2:37 pm —

        If I called it that my kids would never stop asking to play with it. I think in the name of fire safety I need to stick with something more boring.

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