Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS

NOVA Online (see text links below)
Fireworks!  
On Fire
Flame Experiment

Flame (1)

In general, solids and liquids do not burn as a flame—not paper, not even gasoline. What does burn, however, are the vapors that emanate from solids and liquids.

With a lighted candle, melted wax travels up the wick. When the wax reaches the hot flame along the wick, it vaporizes. The heat from the flame is hot enough to cause the vaporized wax to oxidize (burn), and this oxidation releases more heat. The same thing happens with paper and wood. The heat from the flame is hot enough to vaporize the material, the heated vapor oxidizes, and the oxidizing vapor generates more flame and more heat.

So what, then, is a flame?

Continue...



Printer-Friendly Format   Feedback

Name That Shell | Anatomy of a Firework | Pyrotechnically Speaking | On Fire
Resources | Transcript | Teacher's Guide | Site Map | Fireworks! Home

Search | Site Map | Previously Featured | Schedule | Feedback | Teachers | Shop
Join Us/E-Mail | About NOVA | Editor's Picks | Watch NOVAs online | To print
PBS Online | NOVA Online | WGBH

© | Updated January 2002
 

Support provided by

For new content
visit the redesigned
NOVA site

Shop Teachers Feedback Schedule Previously Featured Site Map Search NOVA Home Site Map Fireworks! Home