WHAT YOU NEED
• Wax paper
• Two drinking glasses
• Fire extinguisher
WHAT TO DO
With adult supervision, use the knife to carefully carve away the tallow or wax at the bottom end of the candle to expose the wick. Carefully push the needle through the center of the candle.
Place a piece of wax paper on the tabletop, set the drinking glasses on the wax paper, and rest the needle across the rims of each glass so the candle is between the glasses. With a fire extinguisher on hand, light both ends of the candle and observe.
The candle starts rocking like a seesaw and continues as long as both ends stay lit.
WHY IT WORKS
As Sir Isaac Newton's third law of motion states: For every action there is an opposite and equal reaction. When the tallow or wax drips off each end of the candle, it delivers an upward recoil.
- During Roman times, starving soldiers ate their candle rations, which were made from tallow—a colorless, tasteless extract of animal or vegetable fat.
- British lighthouse keepers, isolated for months, often ate their tallow candles.
- The charred end of the wick of a tallow candle had to be "snuffed"—snipped off without extinguishing the flame—every half hour, otherwise the candle provided only a fraction of its potential light and the low-burning flame burned only 5 percent of the tallow, melting the remaining tallow.
- Because snuffing a tallow candle was difficult to do without extinguishing the flame, the word snuff came to mean "extinguish."
- Beeswax oozes from small pores in the abdomen of a worker bee and forms tiny white flakes on the outside of its abdomen. Using its legs, the bee picks off these flakes and moves them to its jaws. The bee then chews the wax to the proper consistency to build the honeycomb.
- Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest used dried candlefish, a saltwater fish about eight inches long, as candles.
- Spermaceti, a waxy material obtained from the enormous head of the sperm whale (making up a third of its body), was once used to make candles.
- The world's largest candle on record, displayed at the 1897 Stockholm Exhibition, was eighty feet high and 8-1/2 feet in diameter.
- The world's largest needle, measuring 6 feet, 1 inch long, used for stitching on mattress buttons lengthwise, can be visited at the National Needle Museum in Forge Mill, Great Britain.
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WARNING: A responsible adult should supervise any young reader who conducts these experiments to avoid potential dangers and injuries. The author has conducted every experiment and has made every reasonable effort to ensure that the experiments are safe when conducted as instructed; however, the author does not assume any liability for damage caused or injury sustained from conducting these projects.