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Rachel Lobl 

Per. 2
Fire Yields Pancakes - Thermochemistry Project Efficacy Document 
 
Pictures  

 
 
 
Description of Design: 
 
The project starts with a chemical reaction between Potassium Permanganate and Glycerin. 
The reaction creates a fire which spreads to a stick. The stick is used to light a campfire which 
the pancakes are cooked over. The energy from the chemical reaction is eventually transferred 
to the pancakes to cause a maillard reaction.  
 
The first modification we made is using a chemical reaction instead of a lemon battery to 
produce heat. We put 5 lemons in series which created only 5 volts. We predicted we needed at 
least 9 volts of power to create a spark. The lemons were not able to give us enough voltage. 
This could be because the lemons were small and did not contain enough citric acid. To 
increase the amount of electrolytes, we decided to try a salt solution. We put the copper and 
zinc in a beaker of a salt and water solution. This yielded 0.4 volts. Since after several attempts 
at using a electrolyte based battery we decided to switch to a chemical reaction. We choose to 
use potassium permanganate and glycerin as our reaction since we already had the materials 
and the reaction was simple enough to be repeated several times. This reaction is a redox 
reaction which means that the oxidation state of atoms is changing. The reaction worked on 
the first try using 5g of potassium permanganate and 15 drops of glycerin. The next time we 
tried to use 10 drops of glycerin which caused the reaction to occur quicker. Additionally, we 
tried using crystals that were clumped up which caused the reaction to occur slower. When 
 

lighting the campfire, the fire repeatedly went out. We tried several types of tinder. We first 
used only paper napkins which burned but did not last long enough to light the wood. Next, we 
used paper bag logs and paper napkins which worked since the paper logs took longer to burn. 
This shows that having multiple types of tinder that burn at different rates is more effective 
since they allow more time for the larger logs to catch fire.  
 
 
 
Amount of Potassium  Amount of Glycerin   Time for fire to light  Time the fire burned 
Permanganate  

5 grams  15 drops  45 seconds  12 seconds 

5 grams  10 drops  30 seconds  12 seconds 

5 grams  Steady stream for 1  1 minute  12 seconds 


second 
 
 
Technical specifications: 
 
Definitions of energy sources manifested: 
Chemical Energy: Energy stored in the bonds between atoms which is released during a 
chemical reaction.  
Heat Energy: energy that flows from one object with a greater amount of energy to another 
object with less energy. When it transfers to an object, it causes the atoms within the object to 
vibrate 
Caloric Energy: energy that is released from food when it is digested.  
 
Measurement of energy output: 
We were not able to calculate the joules emitted by our chemical reaction. To do this, we 
would have to use a bomb calorimeter. However, once the fire is transferred to the campfire, it 
will emit approximately 131 degrees fahrenheit. This was determined by using the 
temperatures at which certain materials burn and then determining which materials burn in a 
campfire.  
 
Measurement of energy transfers: 
We are unable to measure the amount of heat lost to the atmosphere. However, due to the 10% 
rule which states that only 10% of the energy contained in a food is transferred to the 
consumer, we can estimate that the pancake transfers 10% of its energy to the human who eats 
it.  
 
 
 

 
Molecular Blueprints  
 
 

 
 
 

 
 
 
Main Selling Points of Design: 
 
This design is useful for making a fire without electricity, matches, or a lighter. You can get a 
fire started in less than a minute. The reaction only requires two chemicals.  
 
Main Weaknesses of Design: 
 
The chemicals are not excessively rare but they are not found in most households. Potassium 
permanganate is highly reactive. The reaction releases toxic fumes. The fire from the chemical 
reaction only lasts for about 12 seconds after which you need to add another fuel source like 
wood.