Burning Questions About a Candle

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In this activity, learners will observe a deceptively simple process: a burning candle. In fact, what takes place during the initiation and dynamically stable combustion process is enormously complex. This activity gives learners important insights into basic physics and chemistry, and shows learners the importance of critical observations. The link to this activity is on the left hand side, under "Activities," and is called "How a Candle Burns." Adult supervision required.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
1 to 2 hours

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 11 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Candle
  • Lighter or matches
  • Notebooks or Paper for learners to record data
  • Writing Utensil
  • Small pan or non-flammable surface to collect dripping wax


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Metallurgy and Materials Engineering
  • Physical Sciences
    • Heat and Thermodynamics
      • Heat and Temperature
    • Chemistry
      • Chemical Reactions
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Asking Questions
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All rights reserved, Polymer Science Learning Foundation, 2012

Funding Source:

  • Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation, Inc.