Wooly Heat

You have been studying temperature and heat. In this activity, you and your family members will observe how a chemical reaction can produce heat.


A thermometer and pad of steel wool in a large jar and a bottle of vinegar.


Place the thermometer in the jar and tightly close the lid. After waiting about five minutes, look at the thermometer and record the temperature. Now soak the steel wool pad in the vinegar for a couple of minutes. Squeeze the pad to get rid of any extra vinegar. Wrap the steel wool around the bulb of the thermometer and place both back inside the jar. Close the lid and wait another five minutes. Now remove the thermometer and record the temperature. What happened?


Vinegar removes the protective coating from the steel wool and allows the iron in the steel to rust. What happens when iron rusts? What heated the bulb in the thermometer?