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Burn a Peanut (Marissa Staller)


Marissa Staller

Principle(s) Illustrated

  1. Energy is stored in the form of calories in food.
  2. Energy is released to be used by our bodies when we use food.
  3. Energy can be changed from one form to another (food energy to heat energy)


  • Physical Sciences

    Energy and matter have multiple forms and can be changed from one form to another. 
  • Students know sources of stored energy take many forms, such as food, fuel, and batteries. 
  • Students know plants use carbon dioxide (CO2) and energy from sunlight to build molecules of sugar and release oxygen. 
  • Students know that when fuel is consumed, most of the energy released becomes heat energy. 


  • fresh peanuts
  • 20 mL or larger test tubes (Larger tubes are better)
  • test tube holders (e.g. ring stand with test tube clamp)
  • 10 mL of water (Measure it with a graduated cylinder)
  • large paper clips
  • aluminum plates
  • sticky tape
  • matches
  • scale



Bend the large paper clip as shown to make a peanut holder. Use tape to mount the paper clip in the center of the pie pan. The pie pan is necessary because the burning peanut may fall off the holder or drip flaming fat drops.

Place 10 mL of water into the test tube.

Mount the test tube in the holder over the paper clip.
Tip the test tube at a slight angle, 30 degree or so, This will allow the water to boil without forcing liquid water out of the tube.

To Do and Notice

Find the mass of a whole peanut in grams.

Mount the peanut on the bent-paper clip peanut holder.

Make sure the peanut is a few centimeters under the test tube of water.

Make sure your hair and clothing is out of the way and will not be close to the burning peanut or the match.

Light the peanut, just hold the match under it, the peanut will catch on fire.

Notice the long burning flame.

Notice that the water in the test tube begins to boil violently.

Let the peanut burn out and the test tube cool for 5 minutes or so.

Measure the amount of water left in the test tube and compute the volume and therefore mass of water that boiled away. 

Photographs and Movies

Burn a Peanut