Header is three photos of the steps for completing the silver egg experiment

Try This: Silver Egg Illusion

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Silver Egg Illusion

Silver Egg Experiment

What if we told you that you could turn an ordinary raw egg into a “silver” egg? Wouldn’t that be am-EGG-zing?

Here’s what you need:

  • A room temperature, raw egg
  • A candle
  • Water in a clear glass
  • Tongs
  • A fire source to light the candle 
  • Eye protection
  • A helpful adult

 

Here’s what you do:

1. Put on your eye protection. Using the tongs pick up the egg and hold it over the lit candle. You may need the help of an adult to light the candle.

2. Continue moving the egg over the candle’s flame until it appears covered in black all over. You may have to set the egg down and pick it back up several times to do this.

3. After the egg is completely covered in black, gently set the egg in the clear glass of water. Marvel at the silvery beauty of the egg!

What has happened?

Quite simply, the egg is not silver at all — it’s all an illusion! Candles are primarily made of paraffin wax, which is a petroleum product. Normally when candles burn the paraffin wax which provides the fuel turns to heat, light, carbon dioxide, and water. The water created is actually held in the air because the increased temperature caused by the candle allows for more water vapor to be held in it. 

By holding the egg over the candle, the oxygen needed by the candle’s flame is restricted, and the complete burning, or combustion, cannot occur. This incomplete combustion results in soot forming and covering the eggshell.

The soot formed on the eggshell is hydrophobic, which means that it repels water. When you carefully placed the egg in the glass, the soot repelled the surrounding water creating a thin layer of air. The light traveling through the water and reflecting differently off the water and the air makes the egg appear silver, but it’s just an illusion! When you remove egg from the water it will return to its soot-covered appearance.

  • Photo of the supplies needed to complete the silver egg experiment.
  • Photo of an egg being held over a candle using tongs.
  • Egg that has been blackened by being held over a candle.
  • Photo of the blackened egg in a glass of vinegar.