Burning in hydrogen

Demonstration that hydrogen does not support combustion


Fire and Flame 20 - Petrol in Hydrogen

by Royal Society Of Chemistry

Fire and Flame 19 - Oxygen Flame in Hydrogen

by Royal Society Of Chemistry


Wear eye protection goggles. There is a serious fire risk - a fire extinguisher should be ready. When oxygen is fed, ignite it quickly, because if it will accumulate in the cylinder, an explosion may occur.

Always follow general safety recommendations. Please note that conducting chemistry experiments you must comply with the relevant legal procedures in your country.

Reaction formula

2H2 + O2 → 2H2O


  1. Hydrogen
  2. Oxygen

Step-by-step instruction

WARNING! This experiment is dangerous! You should NOT perform this at home. ONLY carry out this experiment, if you are a trained chemist, and you understand local safety and legal requirements, which are required to perform such experiments

  1. Fill an inverted glass cylinder with hydrogen. Because hydrogen is lighter than air, it will stay in the cylinder.
  2. Secure a piece of paper soaked in petrol in the cylinder.
  3. Connect a tube with an igniter on the end to a balloon with oxygen.
  4. Insert the tube into the cylinder, open an oxygen feed and quickly ignite it.
  5. Try to ignite the paper with this flame. Paper burns only directly in the flame, but if you remove the flame the paper stops burning.

Scientific background

Oxygen reacts with hydrogen after ignition and the flame is obtained. Hydrogen does not support burning, thus petrol can burn only directly in flame, because some oxygen, which has not reacted yet with hydrogen, may react with petrol.

Read more

  1. Petrol in hydrogen

Published on 24 June 2015

  • Fire
  • Heating with fire
  • Explosion
  • Poisoned gas
  • Organic
  • Electricity
  • Solution
  • Oxidation reduction
  • Color change
  • Precipitate
  • Gassing
  • Catalyst