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How To Demonstrate Extraction of Iron on a Match Head

How To Demonstrate Extraction of Iron on a Match Head

In this video, Paul Cook shows you how to demonstrate the extraction of iron on a match head practical where as the match head burns, carbon and carbon monoxide are formed, which reduce the iron (III) oxide at high temperature.

This simple experiment offers a hands-on way to explore the reactivity series and the chemical reactions involved in metal smelting. With the necessary materials and equipment already available in the lab, students can easily carry out this practical on an individual basis and observe the transformation of iron oxide into metallic iron.

You will need:

      • Matches
      • Bunsen Burner
      • Small quantity of iron (III) oxide solid
      • Small quantity of sodium carbonate solid
      • Distilled water (tap water will do)
      • 2 x watch glasses
      • 2 x petri dishes
      • Bar Magnet


  1. Place some water, iron (III) oxide and sodium carbonate in separate watch glasses.
  2. Show that neither iron (III) oxide nor sodium carbonate is magnetic using the bar magnet.
  3. Take an unlit match and dampen it in the water.
  4. Roll the damp match head in the Iron(III)oxide and then the Sodium carbonate.
  5. Hold the match in a Bunsen flame to ignite it and allow it to burn (As it is damp it shouldn’t burn your fingers, getting more carbon is useful).
  6. When the match has cooled, gently crush the burnt match head in the Petri dish.
  7. Hold a bar magnet underneath to show a magnetic material is formed.

All health and safety measures are the responsibility of the teacher doing the demonstration. It is suggested that you practice before demonstration in front of a class.


Video transcript below:


extraction on a match head in front of

me I have a petri dish of water a box of

matches a magnet

some Iron III oxide in a watch glass and

some sodium carbonate in a watch glass

I’ve also got one spare petri dish for

later on and my lip balancing burner

so first of all I’m going to take a

match and I’m going to show you that

none of these objects

are magnetic

put the match in the water

and make sure that it’s well soaked

it’s going to be important in a minute

when you see what happens

take the wet match


in the iron oxide

and then

the sodium carbonate

and then we’re going to light the match

this is where it’s important

that the match was soaked well

so you don’t burn your fingers


we’re going to let that cool

and we’re going to break it in our petri


we’re going to use

start of our match

to break it up

now we’re going to test the product


and now you can see

that we’ve created

all right


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