Energy Transferred by Radiation
Energy and Thermal Physics

Radiation from Bunsen flames

Practical Activity for 14-16 PRACTICAL PHYISCS

Class practical

A simple comparison of the infra-red radiation from two Bunsen flames.

Apparatus and Materials

For each group of students

  • Bunsen burners, 2
  • Insulating screens

Health & Safety and Technical Notes

Set up insulating screens with central apertures 1 metre from each flame. Then there is no danger of students putting their hands too close.

Read our standard health & safety guidance


Light the two Bunsen burners and adjust them so that one flame is clear blue and the other yellow. Ask students to hold the back of their hand about 1 metre from the flames so that they can compare the energy radiating from each.

Teaching Notes

  • The object of the experiment is to decide which flame is hotter.
  • If the air-hole collars of the burners are easy to adjust, students may use a single burner and change the flame from clear to yellow.

This experiment was safety-tested in March 2006

Energy Transferred by Radiation
appears in the relation ΔQ=PΔt
is a special case of Energy Transferred by Heating
is used in analyses relating to Radiative Heating
Limit Less Campaign

Support our manifesto for change

The IOP wants to support young people to fulfil their potential by doing physics. Please sign the manifesto today so that we can show our politicians there is widespread support for improving equity and inclusion across the education sector.

Sign today