What Kind of Fabric Burns the Quickest?

Researched by Markus N.

The purpose of this experiment was to determine what type of fabric would burn the quickest of 6 fabrics. 
I became interested in this idea because I wanted to know if the sheets that I slept in or the clothes that I wear can catch on fire easily. After my experiment I will know what fabric will burn the easiest. I will be careful around fire.The information gained from this experiment will help some of the fabric testers, parents, homeowners, and manufactures have this knowledge so that they know what type of fabric can burn easily and quickly.

My hypothesis was that out of all of the fabrics tested. Cotton would burn the fastest.I base my hypothesis on a web site @http://google.yahoo.com/bin/query?p=flammability+of+fabrics&hc=0&hs=0 said "Cotton will burn pretty fast, but not too fast". So I based my hypothesis on what they said and from my reading.
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The constants in this study were:1.the same place for all tests

2.The same time
3.The same experimenter
4.The same amount of time burnt
5.The same lighter or brand of matches
6. The same amount of fabrics

The manipulated variable was the type of fabric.

The responding variable was the time it took the fabric to burn.

To measure the responding variable I used a stopwatch to time the burning from ignition to "flame out".

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Stop watch
6 pieces of fabric
lighter or pack of matches
 1 Fireman permission
See the Table and Graph
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Things to have for test
1. Get permission from a fireman to do test
2. Get a lighter or pack of matches.
3. Get pieces of fabric selected to burn. They should be 10-10cm.
4. Get a test table clamp.


5. Take out lighter or pack of matches.
6. Take out pieces of fabric.
7. Clamp piece of fabric to test table clamp.
8. Ignite lighter or matches
9. Press flame of lighter to fabric until burning.
10. Take out watch.
11. Time how long it takes for the piece of fabric to burn.
12. Record time on a data sheet
13. Repeat steps 5-11 until finished.

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The original purpose of this experiment was to determine what fabric would burn the quickest. 

The results for this experiment were Cotton averaged at 64.5 Polyester averaged at 20.5 Nylon averaged at 40.0 Rayon averaged at 37.5 Acetate averaged at 36.0 Silk averaged at 26.0. As you can see Acetate was the quickest because some of the other fabrics like Silk Nylon and polyester just melted and didnít burn all the way through.

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My hypothesis was that out of all of the fabrics tested, Cotton would burn the fastest.

The results indicate that my hypothesis should be rejected.  Cotton did not burn the fastest Acetate did. 

Because of the results of this experiment, I wonder if I used different fabrics that I would get the same reaction out of the fabrics or if it would take a lot more time for the fabrics to burn and if fabric softener would make a big difference. 

If I were to conduct this project again I would probably use more fabrics to burn. I would also do more trials and use fabric softener to test how the fabric would react. 

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Safety is important to humans. Fire is a big problem because it destroys people and peopleís things. Some fabrics can catch on fire easily and burn quickly and that can hurt or kill people.
Fire can be dangerous. Some people lose a lot of their possessions by the cause of fire. They may have lost their home or a loved one. They might have even lose their life. Thatís why fire can be very dangerous if not used carefully and safely.
Fire is combustion. Combustion is a chemical reaction that gives off heat and light. In most cases combustion occurs between a gaseous fuel and oxygen in the air at or about a certain temperature.
The second one is spontaneous combustion. Spontaneous combustion may occur when piles of oily rags, coal, and fabrics are left unattended. It is the effect of a material beginning to oxidize very quickly. If a farmer baled hay wet, the core could get so hot that it could burst into flames.
Fire triangle
There are three parts to the Fire Triangle. The first one is Oxygen, the second one is Fuel, and the third one is heat. If there is oxygen to sustain combustion, enough heat to raise the material to its ignition temperature, and some sort of fuel or combustible material there will be a chemical reaction called oxidation.
Antoine Lavoiser gave oxygen its name and recognized that it was an element. As his ideas took over, chemists all over Europe began studying the new elements and their compounds. Many chemists were amazed because of the new gasses such as oxygen. Oxygen is noncombustible even though one of the most striking characteristics of oxygen is how it reacts more quickly at high temps than normal temps. 

All fabrics will burn but some slower than others. There are many different types of fabrics. A really popular one is cotton. Cotton is used a lot in making clothes. Cotton burns slowly and the flame extends while it is burning. Another fabric is Polyester. Polyester can catch on fire fairly easily. Another famous fabric is Nylon. Nylon is a stretchy kind of fabric. When burning has a strong smell and is sort of sticky. Another fabric is Rayon. When burning Rayon melts into a glob, and melts until the flame is out and not burning. A fabric that really isnít recognized but worn is Acetate. Acetate catches on fire easily and burns quickly. A very popular fabric and somewhat expensive is Silk. Silk melts and then puts itself out.

Fabric can be used in many ways. Some of the ways are tires or insulation for houses.                     It is used mostly for clothing for humans to wear. Only some fabrics are used in tires. Nylon is not one of them, because it is too stretchy. In clothing fabric can keep us warm and covered up. Insulation we need, because it helps the house stay warm in the wintertime. Some insulation is sprayed with fire retardant to reduce flammability. 


Fire prevention
Fire prevention is a term for the many safety measures used to keep harmful fires from starting. In homes trash, old clothes, and furniture should be thrown away not stored in the attic or closets. Those things can easily catch on fire and burn a house down. Liquids such as paint and gasoline burn easily. Keep them tightly sealed and stored away. 
Fire Hazards 
Fire hazards such as smoking in bed, and playing with matches can easily start a fire. Playing with matches causes loss of life and thousands of dollars in damage yearly in the United States. Storing flammable liquids, overloading electrical outlets and dishtowels close to something hot can also cause a fire. Keep those things away, out, and or not do such things.
Home owners/Parents
Many types of fabrics burn. Wise parents should teach their children not get to close to fires, lighted stoves, and space heaters. Pictures, rhymes or coloring sheets can help children learn about fire safety. 
Fabric safety
Lose fitting and flowing garments ignite easier than other fabrics do. Polyester and Nylon are more difficult to ignite. When clothing burns it comes into a high heat, a spark, open flame, or ignition scources like a red-hot wire. Clothing fires can have more severe, painful, and costly burns. Liquid fabric softener increases the speed at which certain fabricís burn. Dryer sheets have little effect. 

Fire safety is important. Fire is a big problem because it destroys people and property. Some fabrics can catch on fire easily and burn quickly.  Knowing which fabrics burn fastest may save lives.



Allaby Michael  "FIRE:  The  vital  scource of  energy,"

Encarta Encyclopedia disc 2000

Fitzergerald, Karen "The Story of Oxygen" New York: FranklinWatts 1996

"Flammability of Fabrics." http://www.atmi.org/standards /flammability .asp

"Flammability of Fabrics." http://www.fabriclink.com/university.html

"Flammable fabrics," http://google.yahoo.com/bin/query?p=flammability+of+fabrics&hc=0&hs=0

Oxygen and Combustion pp. 34-40

Quintiere, G. James. "Combustion," World Book Encyclopedia. p.876

Vaun steck-Raintree. "Flammable,"  Science  Encyclopedia.   p. 719

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