# Combustion of Steel Wool

## Summary

Steel Wool is burned in an oxygen rich environment which dramatically increases the rate of reaction.

## Hazards

Oxygen is an oxidizer.

• oxygen tank
• steel wool

## Materials

• one large cylinder with sand in the bottom
• large cover glass
• tongs
• bunsen burner and matches
• goggles

## Procedure

1. Fill the cylinder with oxygen and cover it with a large glass square.
2. Holding a piece of steel wool with tongs, ignite the steel wool by placing it in the flame of a bunsen burner.
3. Quickly remove the glass cover and put the glowing steel wool into the oxygen.
4. The steel wool will burn very brightly.

## Discussion

Steel wool (iron) will burn in air quite gently, since air is about 20% (by volume) oxygen. When the steel wool is placed in 100% oxygen the reaction proceeds much faster and vigorously.

$$\ce{ 4Fe_{(s)} + 3O2_{(g)} -> 2Fe2O3_{(s)} }$$