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Experiment: The Candle Test


In this episode, Mindy and Guy Raz discuss why wearing a mask is so important in helping to slow the spread of the coronavirus. With so many different types of masks available, you may be wondering whether some masks are more effective than others. This simple experiment helps demonstrate just how effective your mask(s) may be. You’ll definitely want adult supervision during the testing phase of the experiment as fire is involved.


  • a variety of different face masks
    • cloth mask(s)
    • bandana
    • neck gaiter
    • disposable surgical mask
    • N-95 respirator mask
  • a birthday candle, a tall taper candle or a candlestick with candle
  • matches
  • experiment recording sheet
  • pen

Step 1: Gather up any masks you’d like to test as well as all other materials needed for the experiment. We recommend testing between 3 and 6 masks.

Step 2: Set up your testing zone by clearing a table or counter of any clutter. Make sure an adult is available to supervise you as you will be dealing with fire.

Step 3: Light the candle or help a grown-up light the candle.
Step 4: One by one you will test each mask by holding it up to your face and trying to blow out the candle through the mask. Record results for each trial.


Step 5: Review the data. What do you notice? Were some of your masks more effective than others?