How to light a sugar cube?
How to light a sugar cube?
Today I share an experiment that puzzles me.

what I want to share today is a puzzling experiment. The main reason is that I still don't know how it works

if you are interested, you can also try but still pay great attention to fire prevention . I will write some notes later.

this is an old demonstration experiment on how to ignite a cube of sugar.

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clip the cube sugar with tongs and burn it on the fire of the candle. You will see the cube sugar gradually melt and drop the melted caramel (and give off a very fragrant smell. ), but it is difficult to burn, and after removing the flame, you can't see any open fire on the sugar cube.

however, there are some simple ways to make sugar cubes easier to burn. The traditional practice in this experiment is to stick some soot to the surface of the sugar cube or burn the ash left over from the paper. Knead the ash evenly on the surface of the sugar cube, and then cauterize it, which will burn more easily.

but the problem with this experiment is that I don't know what the principle is. Many websites that introduce small experiments generally say that ash acts as a catalyst here, but there are no more details.

check the literature? First of all, I found an article from the 1960s, which was not long and inconclusive. Then I looked up an article from the 1970s, and it only quoted the article from the 1960s, and there was no more information. The (uncertain) explanation that I can find is divided into two groups: one thinks that the chemical composition of ash is key, for example, it may be that the carbonate in it plays a role. The other thinks that the physical properties of ash are enough to explain, in fact, other small particles can also be explained, it just increases the surface area in the caramelized sugar cube to make it easier to burn.

so I also tried to ignite the sugar cube with a variety of other powders.

as a result, sodium carbonate powder, soda powder containing sodium bicarbonate, loose powder (unwritten composition, probably talcum powder, mica powder, etc.), cinnamon powder and matcha powder all succeeded in burning cube sugar. However, talcum powder (mainly talcum powder, and some other ingredients) is not very successful.

from left to right is the control group → baking powder → powder

then I also tried to drip the concentrated solution of sodium carbonate on the cube sugar and then blow-dry, and it was also successful.

so what on earth is. (╯ '□') ╯ alternative ┻━┻

based on the phenomena I have observed, both of the previous speculations are possible. It may all work, or there may be other factors. However, it is concluded that there is not enough information available at present.

maybe this kind of small experiment is not very important, and the mechanism is not very important. The only thing that can be explained clearly is the aroma from the experiment. This is the product of caramelization reaction

if you want to try, please note:

you still need to clean up all the combustibles and other sources of fire around you.

Sugar cubes cannot be held by hand, either firmly on a candle with pliers, or on a fire-resistant plate and lit with a long-stick ignition tool.

make sure that the burning sugar cubes can be extinguished immediately, for example, near the sink.

Don't let the children operate.

pay attention to ventilation.

avoid being scalded by dripping hot caramel. You can put it in a plate or sink to prevent the table from getting dirty.