Flame Lab

Categories: Experiment

Purpose: Determine the elements used to cause coloration of birthday candles.


  • Metal pan Candles Sand Diffraction grating film
  • Lighter Safety glasses Internet access


First a candle was placed in the sand. Then the candle was lighted. While the candle was ignited the Diffraction grating film was held up to the flame and was measured. The measurements were then recorded. This process was repeated for the different colors of candles. After all data was recorded research was taken place to determine the elements in each candle.

Qualitative Data

Candle: Color

  1. Flame Color
  2. Diffractor colors
  3. Element

Candle 1: Blue

  1. Blue-ish Green
  2. All colors present but less yellow than there was other colors
  3. Selenium

Candle 2: Green

  1. Blue at the bottom, green in the middle, yellow at the top
  2. All colors were visible but less visible, blue was more faint than the rest
  3. Phosphorus

Candle 3: Orange

  1. Blue at the bottom, Orange at the top
  2. Blue, green, red were less visible, very intense yellow
  3. Sodium

Candle 4: Orange-Pink

  1. Blue at the bottom, purple in the middle, pink at the top
  2. Less visible blue, green, yellow, very intense red
  3. Potassium

Candle 5: Red Orange

  1. Blue but flickered orange until steadily staying at orange after a minute
  2. All colors were very intense except for blue
  3. Calcium


The sand was very loose and when the candles were being blown out the sand was often blown out of the container.

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The candles burned very fast and made observing the flame very rushed. The candles themself had no noticeable smell, however, they were observed from a fair distance.

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The candles were noticed to spark every once in a while.

Conclusion Statement

Candle number one was determined to contain the element Selenium. Candle number two was determined to contain the element Phosphorus. Candle number three was determined to contain the element Sodium. Candle number four was determined to contain the element Potassium. Candle number five was determined to contain the element Calcium.


The purpose of the lab was to determine the elements that five different candles contained in order for the candles to burn different colors. Because of the elements each candle contained the candles burned different colors. The elements were found using a color diffractor and the use of a pre-existing database that contained the information necessary to identifying the elements through flame color. To choose which element each candle used, the data was compared to the information held in the database and the closest one to the recorded data was the element chosen.

Green Chemistry Connection

Because of the methods used in this lab, there are a few flaws it contains. To begin, the lab does not follow the principle number two Atom Economy. This principle states that materials should be designed to maximize incorporation of all materials used in the process into the final product. The candles emitted gases that were wasted into the lab area which shows that the lab does not follow this principle. Secondly, this lab does not follow principle number twelve, Safer Chemistry for Accident Prevention, which states that substances used in a lab or experiment should be chosen to minimize potential for chemical accidents. This lab uses open flames with no barrier to prevent any members of the experiment from acquiring any burns.

Works Cited

  1. http://webmineral.com/help/FlameTest.shtml
  2. https://youtu.be/lZ8cTfLtSvQ (video used)
  3. https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/greenchemistry/principles/12-principles-of-green-chemistry.html

Cite this page

Flame Lab. (2021, Oct 08). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/flame-lab-essay

Flame Lab

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