Combustion of Steel Wool

 

 

Summary:  Steel Wool is burned in an oxygen rich environment which dramatically increases the rate of reaction.

 

Hazards: 

Oxygen is an oxidizer.

 

Chemicals and Solutions: 

oxygen tank

steel wool

 

Materials: 

one large cylinder with sand in the bottom

large cover glass

tongs

bunsen burner and matches

goggles

 

Procedure: 

Fill the cylinder with oxygen and cover it with a large glass square.  Holding a piece of steel wool with tongs, ignite the steel wool by placing it in the flame of a bunsen burner. Quickly remove the glass cover and put the glowing steel wool into the oxygen. The steel wool will burn very brightly.

 

Discussion: 

Steel wool (iron) will burn in air quite gently, since air is about 20% (by volume) oxygen.  When the steel wool is placed in 100% oxygen the reaction proceeds much faster and vigorously.

 

 

To schedule a demonstration, please send an email to the demonstration lab.

 

Contact:

Eric Camp

Lecture Demonstration Technician

Bagley Hall 171

(206) 543-1606

ericcamp@uw.edu

 

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