Inferno Ghosts – Kids Experiment

Seeing as Halloween is right around the corner, we find it’s the perfect opportunity to showcase a spooky ghost experiment! It’s a relatively simple experiment, but will require an adult helper since fire is involved. To get started with the Inferno Ghosts experiment, you will need the following things:

You will need:

  • Tea bags or rolling paper
  • A pen or marker
  • A fireproof plate
  • A lighter of any kind
  • Scissors (optional)
  • An adult helper

Method:

  • Depending on whether you’re using tea bags or rolling paper, there will be two different ways to create your “ghosts”. If using tea bags, be sure to empty the tea out of them first by cutting the top off your tea bags.
  • Next let’s design your ghosts! Grab a pen or marker and add some spooky ghost features. You can design your ghosts however you want, or even draw a different Halloween monster instead.
  • Once you’re happy with your work of art, it’s time to grab your fireproof plate and prop your ghost so that it’s standing on it. To do this, you’ll need to open up your tea bag so that it’s a cylinder shape and stand the tea bag up on one end. Alternatively, if you’re using rolling paper, instead you’ll need to lick one end of it and roll into the shape of a cylinder.
  • Here’s where the magic happens. Now tag in your adult helper because it’s time to light these ghosts on fire! Grab your lighter and use it on the top of your ghosts. If possible, try to make sure each side is lit – you may have to light both sides yourself!
  • Watch as the tea bag/rolling paper continues to burn until the fire reaches the very bottom of your ghost. What happened next? Assuming all went according to plan, your tea bag/rolling paper should shoot up like a rocket when the fire reaches the very bottom. If not, be sure to give it another go – double checking to see if the fire is burning on both sides and that you’ve shaped your tea bag/rolling paper into a cylinder.

The Science Bit:

What is the science behind the Inferno Ghosts experiment? When lit, the air inside the hollow center of the tea bag/rolling paper also heats up. This hot air causes its molecules to become less dense and move around more quickly. As the molecules speed up, spread out and take up more space, the cooler denser air outside of your burning ghost moves in from the bottom to fill the space under the heated air. This flow of rising hot air within the cylinder creates a convection current of air, generating an upward force.

Furthermore, as the tea bag/rolling paper continues to burn, it becomes both ash and smoke. This hot smoke rises, lifts away and dissipates into the air and the ash is all that remains. Once the flame has burned to the bottom of the tea bag/rolling paper, the convection current provides enough force to lift the remaining ash into the sky.