Playing with Fire: Chemical Safety Expertise Required – submitted by Milan Sanader

This recent article from the Journal of Chemical Education is an excellent overview of accidents that have happened involving flammable liquids.  The authors report 164 children and educators have been injured over a 20 year period.  The article also provides useful insights into why these accidents occur and measures necessary to prevent them.

In my opinion, this article is a “must read” for any science teacher considering bringing a sample of a flammable liquid into their classroom.

Link to article 

Thanks for sharing this idea Milan !

Battery fires: The potential danger hiding in your kitchen junk drawer at Christmas and year-round

Health Canada says it received more than 100 consumer reports over the last year involving batteries — everything from overheating to starting fires.

Source: Battery fires: The potential danger hiding in your kitchen junk drawer at Christmas and year-round

Is fire a solid, a liquid, or a gas? – TED Ed by Elizabeth Cox

Sitting around a campfire, you can feel its heat, smell the woody smoke, and hear it crackle. If you get too close, it burns your eyes and stings your nostrils. You could stare at the bright flames forever as they twist and flicker in endless incarnations… But what exactly are you looking at? Elizabeth Cox illuminates the science behind fire. Continue reading

Flame-Retardant Balloon – Flinn Scientific Canada

Show students a “special” balloon that doesn’t pop when exposed to a flame. Students will come up with very clever ideas for why the balloon doesn’t pop. But, when all is said and done, the “magic” is the result of important scientific principles involving specific heat capacity and heat transfer. Continue reading

A Safer Alternative to the Rainbow Demonstration

While serious accidents causing catastrophic injury in high school science activities are rare, when they occur their human toll can be devastating.  This post examines one potentially dangerous demo, its hazards and suggestions for safer alternatives.

The Rainbow Flame Demonstration:

Several of the most serious science accidents have resulted from the combustion of flammable liquids in teacher demonstrations like the rainbow flame demonstration.  In this demo, metals salts are heated in a ceramic dish containing burning methanol.  The flame colour observed is characteristic of the metal.  Click on this link for an example of how this demo is sometimes done. Please note that the procedure used in this video, in our opinion, is unsafe, inappropriate for students of any age and NOT recommended for teachers.

The Hazard:

Methanol vapours are extremely flammable. Furthermore, since the density of methanol is greater than that or air, methanol vapour can flow invisibly across surfaces like the demonstration desk and onto the floor towards unsuspecting observers. A flame, spark or even a hot surface can supply sufficient energy to ignite the vapour and create a sudden flash fire. The situation can be even more catastrophic if a nearby open container of methanol is present.

The Safer (and Better) Way: 

Click here to download the complete article