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.
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.
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.
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.