Course: The Chemical History of a Candle

Course description:

In this course, the student reads and performs experiments following a very interesting, friendly, and informal treatise called The Chemical History of a Candle by Michael Faraday (a great English scientific observer).  This lecture to young people concerns something which at first thought might seem insignifcant or uninteresting, but what turns out to be anything but: the humble wax candle.   The finale of the course is the unexpected but accurate comparison of the candle's combustion with that of food being digested by the human body.

A great observer, Faraday makes science approachable while he carefully investigates those basic questions we all should ask ourselves, but seem to be too busy or not observant enough to do so.  Such questions include:  How does a candle flame actually work?  How does the wax reach the flame?   Where does the wax go - what does it become?   What are oxygen and hydrogen? 

Course fee:

$ 25

Course Length (in weeks):


Book(s) used:

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Textbook: Chemical History of a Candle


Author: Michael Faraday


Publisher's Description:

Michael Faraday was a humble Englishman who lacked formal education and yet had a brilliant and very inventive mind. He was also an excellent teacher, and knew how to explain difficult topics to the average audience. His lifelong persistence in scientific wonder led to many astounding discoveries and inventions. The most famous are those in the area of electromagnetics – the relations between electricity and magnetism.

Later in life however, he delivered a series of free and informal lectures on various scientific subjects to the public, including children. These delightful talks – full of interesting demonstrations – were popular amongst the English elites, the common man, and even children. Six of these lectures were devoted to the marvelous and complex science involved in the burning of the simple household candle. Do not, however, let the seemingly commonplace and ordinary subject matter fool you! Like the author of these lectures, there is much more than meets the eye. Faraday shows many fascinating things that occur when a flame consumes wax.

Christ the King Books has taken these six Faraday lectures and added notes, explanations, and diagrams. These annotations, combined with Faraday’s already easy-going style, make for a pleasant and rewarding experience. Suggested for the student in grades 8 – 10. 75 pages.

ISBN: 9781637940198

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Exercise Manual: Exercises Manual for Chemical History of a Candle


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