Did you know that Chapman recently broke ground on its most innovative building to date? The 140,000 square-foot Center for Science and Technology is the manifestation of Chapman’s ongoing commitment to scientific advancement and discovery. Get your future Panthers in the scientific spirit with this engaging and silly experiment, recommended by Chapman’s own Dr. Jerry LaRue, head of Schmid College’s Catalysis Research Lab.
“The money is engulfed in flames as the alcohol burns, but the water protect the money, so it does not get damaged,” explains Dr. LaRue. The experiment requires immense supervision and safety precautions. As Dr. LaRue plainly puts it: “Get the alcohol/water ratio wrong though, and you will literally burn money.” Be sure to watch Dr. LaRue and student Darren Contreras highlight the project on the @ChapmanSciences Instagram account!
- A bowl
- 91% isopropyl alcohol
- Tongs or Tweezers
- 2 pieces of paper you don’t mind being lit on fire
- A lighter
So the first thing you’ll want to do in this experiment is to showcase what it would be like when something DOES burn to contrast how exciting it is when our experiment works!
Step 1: Put 91% isopropyl alcohol into a bowl. The amount can vary, we suggest 3 oz.
Step 2: Put whatever bill or paper you’re going to burn into the bowl. REMEMBER: This will burn so we suggest for Part 1 not using any money.
Step 3: Let it soak.
Step 4: Using tongs or tweezers, pull out whatever bill or paper you’re going to burn and hold it over something non-flammable (we suggest a sink!)
Step 5: Light it on Fire!
So now that we’ve seen that the isopropyl alcohol will make the bill or paper incredibly flammable, let’s go ahead and dilute it to make the fire ineffective.
Step 1: Using the bowl filled with 91% Isopropyl alcohol from Part 1, mix in an equal amount of water. If you used 3 oz of alcohol in Part 1, use 3 oz of water here.
Step 2: Put whatever bill or paper you’re going to burn into the bowl. REMEMBER: This time the water should counteract the alcohol and nothing will be lit on fire. But to be safe, test this using a business card or a piece of paper before you try and use money.
Step 3: Let it soak.
Step 4: Using tongs or tweezers, pull out whatever bill or paper you’re going to burn and hold it over something non-flammable (again, we suggest a sink!)
Step 5: Enjoy watching the fire not harm the bill or paper!