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How To Do a Fire Writing Demonstration

How To Do a Fire Writing Demonstration

Fire writing is not just a visually captivating activity; it’s also a great way to learn about combustion, chemical reactions, and the properties of different substances. Plus, it’s an exciting way to spark interest in science for learners of all ages.

Here’s how it ties into those specific areas:

  1. Combustion Reactions:
    • Chemistry: Fire writing is a great example of a combustion reaction, where a substance reacts with oxygen to produce heat and light. This directly relates to the topic of chemical reactions and energy changes.
  2. Chemical Reactions and Equations:
    • Chemistry: Students learn about different types of chemical reactions and how to balance chemical equations. Fire writing provides a real-life example of a reaction that can be analysed and understood in terms of reactants and products.
  3. Properties of Substances:
    • Chemistry: This demonstration involves understanding the properties of the materials used, such as the flammability of alcohol-based solutions or other combustible substances. It helps students explore why certain substances burn and how their properties affect the reaction.
  4. Energy Transfers:
    • Physics: The process of combustion involves the transfer of energy, typically releasing heat and light. This connects to topics on energy conservation, energy transfers, and the study of exothermic reactions.

Emma shows you how to do this demonstration which is the perfect blend of art and science that will leave you and your audience in awe.

You will need:

  • 10g of Sodium Nitrite
  • Weighing boat
  • Spatula
  • Weighing Balance with 0.1g Readability*
  • 10cm3 of distilled water
  • Measuring cylinder
  • 100ml Beaker
  • Glass rod
  • 15cm Filter Paper
  • Paint brush
  • Heatproof mat
  • Matches and wooden splint
  • Hair dryer (optional)
  • Safety glasses

* Emma uses the Adam Equipment Balance, Compact, Dune DCT601, 600g x 0.1g Readabilityget 10% off at VITTA Education with discount code ‘LABLIFE’


  1. Put on safety glasses and place the heatproof mat on a stable surface.
  2. Use the weighing balance and boat to measure 10g of Sodium Nitrite.
  3. Measure 10cm³ of distilled water using the measuring cylinder.
  4. Dissolve the Sodium Nitrite in the distilled water in a 100ml beaker, stirring with a glass rod.
  5. Lay the 15cm filter paper on the heatproof mat.
  6. Dip a paint brush into the Sodium Nitrite solution and write or draw on the filter paper.
  7. Allow the paper to dry completely; use a hair dryer on low to speed up drying if necessary.
  8. Place the dry paper back on the heatproof mat.
  9. Light a wooden splint using matches and carefully ignite the Sodium Nitrite writing.
  10. Observe the fire writing effect while maintaining safety precautions, including having a fire extinguisher or water nearby.


Safety Notes:
  • Always wear safety glasses during the preparation and demonstration.
  • Perform the demonstration in a well-ventilated area.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher or a bucket of water nearby in case of an emergency.
  • Do not inhale the fumes produced during the demonstration.
  • Ensure there are no flammable materials nearby.
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