Look How Fire Gracefully Slides and Dances Down This Bottle

Here’s the classic science experiment of mixing fire and alcohol in a large empty jug. It’s always fun to see the perfect layer of flames slowly dance its way down the cylinder, like a slow drip of fire as the alcoholic vapors combust. Of course, the best part is that ‘whoosh’ sound it makes.

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DISCUSSION

switawi
SWITAWI

My father is a retired high school chemistry and physics teacher, and he used to do this as a demo every year at the beginning of the chemistry course. He had his mixture down pat, using the same 5gal water bottle for years. He would cap the bottle and agitate the alcohol until it entirely evaporated, and it would be sitting there ‘empty’ on his desk as class started. After taking roll call he would ask the student nearest the door to turn out the lights and he would light the bottle. That thing would whoosh like a big acetylene torch, sometimes whistle like a 3/4-scale train, and POP at the end.

One year several of the girls in the class actually screamed. The principal who was walking by nearly broke the door in, yelling, prepared to break up whatever-was-in-progress, right as the designated student flipped the lights back on.

Even more girls screamed at the man’s sudden appearance and shouting, and then everyone went awkwardly silent. Obviously there was nothing bad going on. Dad (who has a very dry sense of humor) said he just smiled and said, “Welcome to 5th period Chemistry, Mr. (insert name).”

After that Dad always checked the hallway first.

Also, I doubt Dad would have ever considered using a GLASS bottle for this. Crazy Russians with their tank helmet safety gear... (lol)