Burning Match Levitation

Match Levitation

Watch as a lit match floats into mid-air!

Whether watching that movie about wizards or catching up on our magic tricks, we love it when things mysteriously rise into the air. We are especially fond of levitation when there are no strings or trickery attached… stuff just starts lifting off of the ground.

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Experiment Materials

  • 3 matches
  • Matchbox
  • Adult Supervision

Experiment Videos

Experiment

Match Levitation - Step 1

1

Turn the bottom of an empty matchbox upside down.  Gently poke the bottom of one of the matches through the bottom of the matchbox so that it is sticking straight up from the center.

Match Levitation - Step 2

2

Lean a second match against the first one so that the tips are touching.

3

Use a third match to light the middle of the leaning matchstick.

Burning Match Levitation

4

Watch as the flame spreads in both directions up and down the matchstick.  The leaning match should start to rise.

5

Blow out the flame and observe as the match the was leaning remains in mid-air.

How Does It Work

The key to making this trick work is to light the leaning match in the center of the stick.  By lighting it in the center, most of the stick (and weight) of the match is quickly burned up.  By the time the flame spreads up to the head of the match, the weight of the stick is minimal.   When the flame hits the two match heads, they ignite simultaneously and create a burst of high heat which fuses the two heads together.   This fusion holds one end of the match up while the other (and lighter) end curls upwards, creating the illusion that it is levitating.