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Chemical History of the Candle

Chat times for Summer 2018
11:00a - 12:30p ET/8:00a-9:30a PT

Dr. Christe Ann McMenomy

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Lab Equipment Required

Experiments for this course

Lab assignments for this course are not optional — they are the point of the course! Students perform one major lab exercise each week and need to set aside a regular time for completing their lab work and writing up their reports. Please take this into consideration if your student is planning other activities, such as a travel or summer camp, which may make performing experiments on a regular basis impossible.

Lab Permission Forms

For safety reasons, both you and your parents must read the safety procedures before starting the lab sequence. Parents of minor students must sign and send a copy of the lab permission letter to me before I can accept any lab reports from their student.

Lab Equipment

Most labs will require the use of one or more of the following items. Optional items for some labs are listed in italics. [This list is not yet complete.]

  • Lab Notebook. This should be a spiral-bound notebook containing graph paper, 8" x 6" or larger, on which you can make written notes, drawings, and tables of data. We will discuss preparing your notebook in our first lab session.
  • Cookie sheet or aluminum foil to protect working surface from wax drips
  • One parafin taper or votive candle
  • One beeswax candle
  • One oil lamp (decorative) or alcohol lamp (may come as part of a chemistry set)
  • Strong flashlight, slide projector, or direct sunlight
  • White paper large enough to act as a screen (you may tape printer paper together, but you should have a rigid board or wall on which to place it)
  • A short candle with a good wick.
  • A deep pan or bowl in which you can put at least a quart of water.
  • Matches
  • A wax marker like a crayon OR tape which will stick to glass OR a silver "glass" pen, for marking glass.
  • A liquid measure, graduated to as much accuracy as possible (a cup measure will do, a cylindar graduated in mL is better).
  • Large heat-proof glass jars (canning jars), or pyrex or kimex chemistry beakers.
  • Glass or metal funnels (2 if possible)
  • Heat-proof small jars (such as olive jars or spice jars), or test tubes
  • Insulated copper wire (bell wire, for example)
  • One 6 Volt battery, or two C or D cells, taped together
  • Two feet of rubber tubing (available at the hardware store)
  • Short piece of heat-proof glass tubing (try using GLASS eyedroppers, if available)
  • Lime (CaO). You may use lime bought to treat soil for gardening, or purchase a small amount from a supplier like Home Science Tools.

Students who wish to conduct labs for AP credit in the academic year course should review the AP Chemistry course laboratory requirements and textbook information for the equipment, materials, and manuals required for that course and notify the instructor of their intent to work on AP labs.


Non-AP labs require only household equipment. If you want to pursue more exotic experiments with your candles, you may also want to check my growing list of mail order suppliers.