Graphite Starts Fire.

Graphite Starts Fire Informal Lab Report by Matthew K. Chak

Purpose: See if 4 9V batteries connected to graphite could produce enough heat to burn a paper

Hypothesis: If a 36V power source (4 9V batteries) were connected by wires to a piece of graphite, and then the heat produced would be enough to burn a napkin.

Theoretical Background: Graphite is a form of extremely heat resistant Crystalline Carbon. We can know this using the formula C= Q/delta T, making Graphite only oxidize (or wear down) in temperatures of 700 C or higher. This would make it be able to withstand and act as a sort of storage system for the heat made by the energy. This heat would be enough to start a fire/ burn a napkin

Materials and Equipment

4 9V batteries

AT LEAST 2 wires


Something to burn


  1. Connect your 9V batteries together to form a 36V power source
  2. Connect both ends of the new 36V power source to the graphite using alligator clips/wires
  3. Take your fire starter of choice and hold it down to the graphite




The heat produced by the 36V power source was enough to burn the napkin. The heat was also enough to burn through two of the wires we used – this was something that was not expected. The main temperature gain occurred during the first few seconds of the actual experiment – this was the point in which the wires were burned.


My hypothesis was correct; a 36V power source produced enough heat to burn graphite. If you were to investigate further, try to burn other substances or use a different power source.

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