Lesson Plan: Flammable Foods

Food is fuel…but will it burn?

Gather supplies:
  • An adult to help
  • bunsen burner, or small Torch, or wand-style lighter (disposable plastic lighters may result in burnt fingers/sore thumbs)
  • Aluminum foil
  • A metal paper clip or large safety pin
  • A timer
  • Cheetos, Fritos, or Lays-use an average sized chip for your sample.
  • One or two types of Nuts (your choice.. substitute if you have nut allergies).
  • At least one other food that will burn (your choice-as long as it can be lit on fire)
  • (optional) A camera for before/after photos

Observe your sample foods

1. Look at your sample foods.
What are two visual clues you might observe to predict which food has more energy?
2. Touch your sample foods.
What do you observe?
3. Smell and Taste your sample foods.
What do you observe?


Which food sample do you think provides the most energy?

Experimental Procedures
  • Select an average-sized sample of each food you will test.
  • Unbend your paper clip or safety pin.
  • Wrap the aluminum foil around the base of the paper clip so it can stand by itself. It should look like the photo.
  • Spear your first food sample and place the stand on a level, fire-resistant surface.
  • Get your timer ready in one hand and torch in the other.
  • Start timing as soon as the sample catches fire and burns for at least three seconds. Some samples will catch fire quickly and others will be difficult to set on fire.
  • Record data in a chart including Type of Food, Burn Time (in seconds), and Comments.
  • Repeat 6-8 until you finish your food samples, or no dessert for you.

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