Happy Sesquicentennial: The Chemical History of a Candle

I propose to bring before you, in the course of these lectures, the Chemical History of a Candle. There is no better, there is no more open door by which you can enter into the study of natural philosophy than by considering the physical phenomena of a candle.--Michael Faraday, introduction to lecture 1
This is my all time favorite DIY science book. 150 years ago, the great Faraday (and I do mean great; I don't believe there has been an experimental scientist of his ability since) gave a series of lectures for school children at London's Royal Institution. In six lectures he explained many mysteries of chemistry and physics using a wax candle and some very simple props. The text for all six lectures are available for free online. I am still looking for an online edition that contains the drawings, which are pretty important.IMG_1663_Small.JPG


  1. And Mr. Pepples (he didn’t like doctor) at CBHS promised us that at the end of his physics course, we would understand what ‘light’ was. Heady stuff.

  2. In fact you can get a pdf or epub of the entire original edition (scanned) from google book search.

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