Burning steel wool

How to burn iron with a battery

Does iron burn? Of course it does! Es­pe­cial­ly if it’s con­tained in steel wool! You can not only burn it with a lighter, but with a bat­tery as well!

Reagents and equip­ment:

  • steel wool;
  • a burn­er;
  • a 9-volt bat­tery.

Step-by-step in­struc­tions

Take a lit­tle steel wool. The wool fiber should be fine, oth­er­wise it won’t burn. Light the wool with a burn­er. Take the piece of steel wool again and touch it with the ter­mi­nals of a 9-volt bat­tery. Af­ter while, the wool will burn.

Pro­cess­es de­scrip­tion

The speed of ox­i­da­tion of iron in or­di­nary con­di­tions strong­ly de­pends on the form it is in: an or­di­nary piece of met­al doesn’t burn, but the fine fibers of iron wool or a fine pow­der (py­rophoric iron) can eas­i­ly be ig­nit­ed in nor­mal con­di­tions. It all de­pends on the con­tact sur­face of the iron with air. It should be suf­fi­cient to make the ox­i­da­tion re­ac­tion self-sus­tain­ing, i.e. not re­quir­ing a con­stant sup­ply of heat. Steel wool con­sists of fine iron fibers, and in the re­ac­tion of the ox­i­da­tion of iron on the sur­face, their sur­face be­comes suf­fi­cient for enough heat to form to con­tin­ue the re­ac­tion, and make it self-sus­tain­ing.

Safe­ty re­quire­ments

The com­bus­tion tem­per­a­ture of iron wool can ex­ceed 1000 C! Avoid burns! Wear pro­tec­tive glass­es and gloves. Don’t con­duct the ex­per­i­ment near flammable sub­stances and ob­jects. Fire ex­tin­guish­ing equip­ment should be at the ready. Fol­low gen­er­al safe­ty rec­om­men­da­tions. Chem­i­cal ex­per­i­ments must be car­ried out in full com­pli­ance with the leg­is­la­tion of your coun­try.

Warn­ing! Sub­stances of this ex­per­i­ment are tox­ic and high­ly dan­ger­ous for your health. Do not try this at home. Only un­der pro­fes­sion­al su­per­vi­sion.