Hooked on Science: Burning money without destroying it

Thursday, March 15, 2012

If money burns a hole in your pocket, you can actually light a dollar bill without burning the money.


* 1 cup of water

* 1 cup of rubbing alcohol

* 1 dollar bill

* Tongs

* Grill lighter


STEP 1: Mix the cup of water with the cup of rubbing alcohol.

STEP 2: Using the tongs, dip the dollar bill into the water and rubbing alcohol mixture for 30 seconds.

STEP 3: Holding the dollar bill with the tongs, use the grill lighter to ignite the dollar bill. Make sure you keep the fire away from the water and rubbing alcohol mixture.

STEP 4: Allow the dollar bill to burn for about 10 seconds.


Combustion or burning occurs between the alcohol and oxygen. The rubbing alcohol is what burns when you ignite the dollar bill. The temperature at which alcohol burns is not hot enough to evaporate the water, therefore the dollar bill remains wet and does not catch on fire. Water is very good at absorbing heat without increasing in temperature.

Jason Lindsey is a science outreach educator with Hooked on Science. Check out his website www.hookedonscience.org for webcasts and experiments that might get you hooked on science. Send him your science questions at jlindseyhookedonscience.com.

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