Are you ready for another fun and super easy balloon experiment!? This balloon experiment uses a cool trick with water to make it flame-resistant! Let’s go ahead and get started with this Balloon and Candle Experiment.
Check out more fun and simple Science Experiments With Matches here!
This science experiment is one of my kid’s favorites, and I am sure your kids will love it too! It makes learning about the heat capacity of water fun for everyone!
Balloon and Candle Experiment
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How to make a fireproof balloon
- Inflate a balloon with air
- Light a candle and put it on a plate
- Get the balloon as close to the flame as you can until it pops
- Fill another balloon with a little water and the rest of the way with air
- Lower the water and air-filled balloon toward the flame and see what happens
- Take the balloon off the flame and notice the burnt spot, but it did not pop!
Step 1: Blow up a balloon with air
The easiest way to do air up a balloon is to use your mouth, but if you prefer to use an air compressor with the right nozzle that works too!
Once your balloon is aired up to a decent size go ahead and tie it off to keep the air inside. You want your balloon to be large enough that there is some air pressure inside, but not so large the latex is stretched so much that it pops.
Step 2: Ignite your candle
If you don’t have a candle on hand for this experiment, there are a few other methods you can use. I recommend checking out this similar experiment How to Fireproof a Balloon where I used a lighter instead of a candle.
If you do have a candle ready for this experiment, go ahead and use a lighter or matches to get a flame burning on that candle! Adult supervision is highly recommended for this step and through the rest of the experiment too!
Step 3: Grab your balloon and make it pop!
Before your balloon explodes in your face, please do not forget to throw on some safety glasses or safety goggles. Then go ahead and raise your balloon up directly over and above the burning candle.
Slowly lower your air-filled balloon closer to the flame of the candle. This is the nerve-racking part and true test of your bravery to see how close you can get your ballon to the flame before it pops.
In most cases, this first balloon that does not have water inside of it should pop a few inches before it even touches the flame! The heat radiating off the flame is enough to weaken the latex balloon and make it pop!
Step 4: Fill a second balloon with water and try again
Now that we have discovered that a balloon filled with air will easily pop when placed near a heat source, what will happen if we all a little water inside a balloon?
Grab the second balloon and add some water inside of it. The easiest way to do this is to slip the mouth of the balloon over a bathroom or kitchen sink faucet and slowly fill it up to about the size of a baseball.
After you get enough water in your balloon, slide it off the faucet while pinching the neck of the balloon to avoid getting sprayed with water like I did. Then fill the balloon the rest of the way with air so that it is about the same size as the first balloon that popped.
Step 5: Place your air and water-filled balloon over the flame
Here comes round 2 of the fun and thrilling part of this balloon and candle experiment. Before lowering your new balloon onto the flame, make sure that the candle is still burning. Sometimes the wind from the first balloon popping will blow the candle out and you will need to re-light it.
Then grab your balloon that now has a little water in the bottom and a lot of air inside and slowly lower it towards the burning candle.
You should be able to hold the bottom of your balloon directly over the flame and even let the flame touch the balloon without it popping this time!
Depending on how much water is in your balloon, (typically within 30 seconds to 1 minute) when the water heats up enough, then the balloon will eventually pop.
Step 6: Remove the balloon from the flame and look at the bottom
You might be amazed and grateful that even though your balloon appears to be burned by a flame, it did not explode and spray water all over you! In fact, if you look closely at the bottom of the balloon where the flame contacted the latex there will be a black spot.
That black spot is actually not the balloon getting burnt, but it is carbon deposits that were left behind on the balloon as the flame burned oxygen and released carbon dioxide.
You can actually grab a wet towel or rag and gently wipe the black carbon soot off the balloon and it looks as good as new!
Why does a balloon filled with water not pop?
The magical science behind this balloon and candle experiment really is in the water! Water has a much higher heat capacity than air, meaning that it takes a lot more energy to heat up water than it does to heat up the air.
The water is able to absorb a lot of the heat from the flame and pull it away from the latex, which prevents the latex of the balloon from melting and allowing the balloon to pop.
Eventually, the water will get hot enough that it cannot keep the latex cool enough and the balloon will pop, but it will take much longer to pop than the balloon that had only air and no water.