Classroom Insider: Flame Tests in Honors Chemistry
Laney Justice Dawson Post
September 28, 2018

On a camping trip about a year ago, my family bought a package of “Magic Fire”. When you poured this package of powder onto the campfire, it burned many different colors. Turns out the “Magic” was just science!

In Ms. Weresuk’s Chemistry Honors, students participated in a lab where they used fire to excite electrons in different metals. When the electrons fell from this excited state, they released energy in the form of light. This light can range from ultraviolet and infrared and everything in between. To excite the electrons, students took damp sticks to collect clumps of powder. Then, they would use the propane burners to light the metal power on fire. This would excite the electrons within the metals and they would release the energy as light. Some clumps burned orange, some burned green, and some even burned bright red.

While our flame tests were controlled, science is always unpredictable. While we were burning our metals, we heard an alarm out in the hallway. We continued our tests. People began filing out of the first floor and passing by our window. After a few minutes we were notified that we had managed to set off the fire alarm! We turned off our burners and started evacuating the classroom. Once we left the building, we started up the hill to the church. Once we reached the church, people started asking us if we were the ones who triggered the alarm. We started discussing what had happened. After a few minutes, we heard the sirens. A fire truck, along with two police cars, pulled up to make sure that the building was safe to enter. We got the O.K. to re-enter the building and we started to pack up our stuff. Ms. Weresuk extended the lab’s due date because of the interruption.


“We learned a lesson. Don’t let high schoolers start fires!” – Brenden Dooley


“WOW!” — Gabby Tallent


“It was very entertaining and fun to see how the different compounds created different colors. The best part was tripping the fire alarm.” — Leighanne Handley


“I’m afraid it was my fault” –Travis Carpenter 


“Chemistry, always unpredictable” — Dennis Marion

Laney Justice
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Classroom Insider: Flame Tests in Honors Chemistry