Chemical fireflies

Each of these fireflies is a small chemical flashlight!

Safe­ty pre­cau­tions

Warn­ing! Ob­serve safe­ty rules when work­ing with fire.


  • ace­tone nail pol­ish­er;
  • cop­per wire;
  • lighter;
  • glass bot­tle with cap.

Step-by-step in­struc­tions

Pour some nail pol­ish re­mover into a bot­tle, mak­ing sure to close the bot­tle af­ter­wards. Fold some cop­per wire into a star. Heat it red hot with a lighter, make sure to put the lighter out, then open the bot­tle and in­sert the star – it starts glow­ing like a fire­fly!

Process de­scrip­tion

Nail pol­ish re­mover con­tains ace­tone, which evap­o­rates eas­i­ly. At­mo­spher­ic oxy­gen ox­i­dizes the ace­tone va­por on the heat­ed cop­per’s sur­face. This process yields heat, which makes cop­per red-hot again – caus­ing it to start glow­ing.

Play with atoms and mol­e­cules with the MEL Chem­istry sub­scrip­tion!