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Steel wool and 9 volt battery Experiment

Here is a great how-to science experiment that you can try at home: burning fine steel wool with only a battery. The reaction from your friends will have them speechless and the visuals is enough to get anyone excited.


1) Pull the steel wool apart into thin strips.
2) Place the steel wool in the baking pan with aluminum foil.
3) Touch the ends of the battery to the steel wool.


We used a 9-volt battery to light the steel wool because the terminals are close together. Touching the battery to steel wool sends a current through the thin wire, the electrons from the battery move rapidly through the steel wool and make a complete circuit and it heats up a lot (to about 700 degrees C). These temperatures cause the iron to react with the oxygen (O2) in the air and creates iron oxide (FeO2).


This heat causes the iron to react with the oxygen surrounding the steel wool. This reaction creates the spark that we see and the release of heat that heats up the next iron molecules, thus causing chain reactions through the steel wool.


This reaction of iron and oxygen, also, creates a new substance, iron oxide (FeO2). Iron oxide is actually heavier than iron, making the resulting product heavier than the original steel wool.


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