Skip to main content

Money to burn

Description

A piece of paper (or a £5 or £10 note) soaked in a mixture of ethanol and water is ignited. The ethanol burns but the paper does not.

Type of Activity

:
demonstration

Audience

:
Teacher

Age Group

:
11 to Undergraduate

Credits

:
This is an experiment from the Practical Chemistry project, developed by the Nuffield Foundation and the Royal Society of Chemistry.
money-to-burn



Apparatus Chemicals

The quantities given are for one demonstration.

The teacher requires:

Eye protection

Bunsen burner

Pair of tongs

Heat-resistant mats, 2

Beakers (250 cm3), 3

Paper, e.g. filter paper (Note 1)

Ethanol (HIGHLY FLAMMABLE) or Industrial Denatured Alcohol (IDA) (HIGHLY FLAMMABLE, HARMFUL), 75 cm3

Sodium chloride (common salt), about 1 g

Refer to Health & Safety and Technical notes section below for additional information.  

 






A piece of paper (or a £5 or £10 note) soaked in a mixture of ethanol and water is ignited. The ethanol burns but the paper does not.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

This is a resource from the Practical Chemistry project, developed by the Nuffield Foundation and the Royal Society of Chemistry. This collection of over 200 practical activities demonstrates a wide range of chemical concepts and processes. Each activity contains comprehensive information for teachers and technicians, including full technical notes and step-by-step procedures. Practical Chemistry activities accompany Practical Physics and Practical Biology.

The experiment is also part of the Royal Society of Chemistry's Continuing Professional Development course: Chemistry for non-specialists

Polymer based notes (such as the new £5 sterling note, issued in 2016) are now coming into circulation in a variety of countries. We advise only 'paper' based notes are used for this experiment. Polymer based notes will not burn in the same way as paper versions and are not suitable for this experiment.