4B50.20 - Boiling Water in a Paper Cup

Code Number:
Demo Title:
Boiling Water in a Paper Cup
Thermal Conductivity
Area of Study:
Heat & Fluids
Propane Torch or Bunsen Burner, Paper Cup, Cup Holder, and Water.

Fill the cup 3/4 of the way with water and place in the holder.  Use the torch or Bunsen burner either on the bottom or the side of the cup.  Note that all portions of the cup not touching water will burn off, but that the rest of the cup will be undamaged or only slightly scorched until the water starts to boil away.

An easier version of this is to wrap paper tightly around a metal rod and tape in place.  When you put the paper covered rod into the flame the paper will not burn because the rod is conducting the heat away.

  • Thomas B. Greenslade Jr., "Melting Metal on a Playing Card", TPT, Vol. 54, #4, Apr. 2016, p. 227.
  • Charles Vivian, "A Paper Saucepan That Will Not Burn", Science Experiments & Amusements For Children, p. 56.
  • Charles Vivian, "A Trick of Heat", Science Experiments & Amusements For Children, p. 17.
  • Vicki Cobb and Kathy Darling, "A Cold Fact", Bet You Can't!, p. 92.
  • Vicki Cobb and Kathy Darling, "Playing with Fire", Bet You Can!, p. 49.
  • Vicki Cobb and Kathy Darling, "Fireproof Paper", Bet You Can!, p. 48.
  • Janice VanCleave, "31. Paper That Won't Burn", Teaching the Fun of Physics, p. 48.
  • Janice VanCleave, "29. Boil Water in a Paper Cup", Teaching the Fun of Physics, p. 46.
  • Joey Green, "Paper Cup Boiler", The Mad Scientist Handbook 2, p. 71.
  • Robert Ehrlich, "I.6. Burning Paper and Styrofoam Cups", Turning the World Inside Out and 174 Other Simple Physics Demonstrations, p. 118 - 119.
  • Tik L. Liem, "The Exact Paper Circle", Invitations to Science Inquiry - Supplement to 1st and 2nd Ed. p. 42.
  • Carl Ahlers, "Boiling Water in a Paper Pan", Expose Excite Ignite!  An Essential Guide to Whizz-Bang Chemistry, p. 57.
  • Borislaw Bilash II, “The Paper Kettle“, A Demo A Day – A Year of Physical Science Demonstrations, p. 72.
  • Julius Sumner Miller, Q94 & A94, Millergrams I – Some Enchanting Questions for Enquiring Minds, p. 61 & 109.

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