Alcohol vapors burn with dancing flame and “whoosh” sound.
name: Alcohol vapors burn rapidly because of large surface area for reaction to proceed.
Do not use too much alcohol. Wear eye protection goggles. Keep a safe distance. There is a some fire risk - a fire extinguisher should be ready.
Always follow general safety
recommendations. Please note that conducting chemistry
experiments you must comply with the relevant legal procedures in
This experiment is based on the combustion reaction of alcohol vapors. Alcohols are volatile substances. They easily evaporate and fill the vessel mixing with oxygen of air. The alcohol vapors are also flammable and readily burn after ignition, producing carbon dioxide and water. Reactions look as follows:
2CH3OH + 3O2 → 2CO2 + 4H2O
C2H5OH + 3O2 → 2CO2 + 3H2O
2C3H8O + 9O2 → 6CO2 + 8H2O
The combustion of vapors is very fast since the alcohol molecules in the gas phase have a much greater surface area for the reaction in comparison with the liquid state. Alcohol molecules are spread in the whole volume of the bottle. That’s why when they burn it looks like a dancing flame ring or plate. The confined space of the vessel and the rapidness of the combustion promote the “whoosh” sound occurring during the reaction.