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Experiment 1: Iron Combustion


20 October 2009 by Quest 2, to link in with Chapter 1 of our book.


To see if iron will oxidise quickly (burn).


Place iron filings in beaker. Check they are iron by placing a magnet under the beaker.

Use a spatula to take a scoop of the iron filings and gently tip the iron filings over a meths burner flame.

Hold spatula in flame to see if it will burn.

Materials Equipment

  • Iron filings.
  • Beaker.
  • Magnet.
  • Iron-based spatula.
  • Meths burner, lighter.


The iron filing burned and sparkled when tipped over the flame. The best sparkles were produced by gently shaking a small amount of iron filings over the flame.

When dropped in a lump the iron filings didn't burn well, and iron filings were left around the top of the meths burner because of this.

The spatula would not burn at all but did have a few small spots of rust.


  • Iron will burn quickly if it's in the form of small particles such as iron filings. It also helps if they are spread out, not in a lump.
  • Large solid lumps of iron like a spatula do not burn/oxidise quickly, but the small rust spots show it does oxidise.


Sparklers are made using iron filings. How could we best stick them to a stick?