Wax fireball

Melted wax explodes

Scientific name: Demonstration of melted wax ignition


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Wear eye protection and lab gloves.

There is a serious fire risk - a fire extinguisher should be ready. Make sure there is nothing flammable nearby.

Keep the test-tube at arm's length and keep the mouth of the test-tube away from you.

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

Reaction formula

CnH2n+2 + (2n+1)O2 → nCO2 + (n+1)H2O


  1. Paraffin wax
  2. Water

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. Pour some water into a large beaker.
  2. Secure a test-tube in a jaw clamp and put some wax into it.
  3. Heat the test tube with a burner, until the wax fully melts.
  4. Abruptly put the test-tube down into the beaker with water. A huge explosion occurs.

Scientific background

Water is denser than melted wax, and when it is poured into wax, it goes down into the wax. Melted wax has a temperature above 200 °C, and water instantly vaporizes. Wax outbursts as small droplets occur. In this case the surface of the contact of wax and air is very large, and the wax spontaneously flashes.


Published on 01 July 2015

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