How to Start Fire with a Magnifying Glass?

Starting a fire with magnifying glass is going to thrill your kids. Science is everywhere!! Today let us see the science around us along with our kids in a closer view. Huh!! Closer look!? Yes, also I give you a perfect chance to improve your kid’s motor skills. 

Kids are naturally curious and love to explore the world around them!! But this time we are going to give them a magnifying lens to enhance their learning experience in a better and closer view.

Create Fire with magnifying Glass

This is one of my favorite learning experiences remembered my childhood days playing with magnifying lens.

At this point, I told them about the activity I am going to show them i.e. ‘Creating fire with magnifying glasses. “Wow!! Mamma are you serious!? Are we going to make fire using this magical glass!? It’s really exciting mamma, lets us start immediately”. You can expect these words are from my two girls. Let us enter the world of magnifying glass without any delay and lit some fire!! 🙂

Things required  

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That’s it, we require only three simple materials to do this fun filled science experiment.

Starting Fire From Magnifying Glass

I took my daughters to our apartment balcony on a bright sunny day to demonstrate. 

1) Ask your kid to show some drawing skills on the white paper. My younger one drew a smiley face using her sketches on the white paper. Let your kids draw any shape to have fun on the paper as well.

Science Experiment starts with drawing

2) Select a safe location (where the fire cannot spread to anything else since you need to perform the activity outdoor) to make fire using magnifying glass.

3) Now hold the magnifying glass between your white paper and the sun. My elder one is interested to hold the magnifying glass. She already applied sunscreen lotion to avoid sun burns. So, apply some sunscreen lotion to your children before you go out for sun.

4) As soon as the magnifying glass is under the sun focusing on the paper, it gives a bright dot on the paper. You can make the dot size bigger by tilting the lens back and forth. Keep in mind that keep the dot size as small as possible in order to create the fire sooner.

5) Ask the kid to focus the dot in one place for about few seconds to minutes. Slowly you can observe some smoke from the focused area. Then the fire comes slowly after smoke appears.

Creating fire from sun using magnifying glass

My kids focused on eyes and mouth part of the smiley face they have drawn on the white paper. They were amazed seeing the fire using magnifying glass. They enjoyed peeping out of the eyes of the smiley face as they made holes by creating fire with the lens glass. They hugged and thank me for showing them such a wonderful act.
Starting firework

sun burned face mask

Put off the fire as soon as its purpose is served.    

We even went to our garden to try out with dried leaves. It worked so fool-proof that leaves in our garden started burning. Trust me, no exaggeration. The dried leaves lying around caught fire. I stopped there but was really feeling awesome by the way it worked. You need a magnifying glass which can be purchased but they are not expensive. Be very careful on a sunny day to prevent any accidents. Ensure not to leave the glass outside without knowledge. Also, do not allow kids to handle alone.


The Science Behind It

The unique properties of magnifying glass is the magic trick behind creating a fire using magnifying glass. Wondered to know what those unique properties are!!? Let us begin.

We already learned about what is magnifying glass and how it makes things look bigger. Coming to our experiment, the science behind creating a fire using magnifying glass is found in the form of photons. Photons are just the particles that carry or holds the clear visible light from the sun to the earth. They transmit light and energy in the form of heat. A magnifying glass sets fire by focusing all the photons through the small dot area created by the convex (curved outward) lens. When the sun fall on the magnifying glass, the appropriate focal strength of the photons passes through the lens and creates a small sized dot on the ignitable material. This generates an extremely high heat concentration at the dot area which is good enough to start a fire. This is time taking process and you need to wait until the sun light catches fire.

The convex lens can be found in many devices we are aware of. Ex: binoculars, camera, even glass bottle bottoms etc.


  • A water droplet on the lens intensifies the sun light’s heat causes the fire to ignite more quickly.
  • The larger the lens, the easier to create a fire on any flammable material.
Please note…

Tisha was 3 years old when I tried this experiment. Don’t think skeptical about this. You can teach kids about making a fire in your garden with this experiment.  Let me warn you to take care of kids. Please make sure if your kid is appropriate to take part in this experiment. However, I know that my kids will not overboard on things and will check with me. Also, I will explain to them about the hazards caused in advance. Hence I am very confident to do any experiment with my kids. I will also tell them few conditions and only if they abide by we will do that particular work. It is easy to handle my little ones. You can also ensure safety before starting not only this activity but others too posted in this site.

Here are some key questions that you can discuss with your young scientists. 

Can you really start a fire with glasses?

Yes, we can create the fire using any type of glasses that have convex lens. All you need to create a fire is convex lens to focus the sun light to a small area or specific spot. The devices that fall under this category are binoculars, eye glasses, magnifying glasses etc. Even the ice is used the purpose since it has a curved shape similar to the convex lens. A mirror glass can also create the fire since it produces heat but it takes a long time to ppoduce fire. Convex lens direct the sun ray’s to a specific point thus responsible for ignition.  

What starts fire when you show magnifying glass in sun?

A magnifying glass makes fire with the help of heat from the sun. This is done by focusing the glass for 50-60 seconds under the sun. The sun rays pass through the lens of the glass focusing the heat at one specific and small point where the fire begins after producing some smoke.  

Can you start a fire with a flashlight and a magnifying glass?

Yes, we can create a fire with a flash light and magnifying glass but this likely will not work since the flashlight produces very less intensity of heat. You need to use two magnifying glasses to create a thin laser light beam of heat rays in order to set fire. You can use paper, dry grass and dry twigs to set fire as they have access to catch the fire easily. However, the results are not guaranteed. 

How do you make a fire without matches?

A magnifying glass is the great way to start the fire without matches. During unfavorable conditions, this is the best method to survive. Regardless of how you start your fire, always carry tinder (it should be dry) along with you. Making fire using flint ans steel is one of the easiest ways to set fire. You can use a mirror or a water-filled balloon instead of magnifying glass to create fire in the absence of matches. One of the most famous and most difficult ways to create fire by friction. It is followed in olden days by our ancestors. In this way, you can create fire in different ways.

What happens when light passes through magnifying glass?

When light passes through magnifying glass, the convex lens refract or bend the light rays causing the light trays come together. This makes our eyes see things in a different way than the original ones. When the light rays fall on an object and reflect the image to your eyes by travelling in a parallel direction. These parallel rays when passes through a magnifying glass, the convex lens bend the parallel rays and bring them together causing a virtual image on the retina of your eyes. This virtual image appears larger than the real ones.

What lens does a magnifying glass use?

A magnifying glass uses convex lens usually mounted in a frame with a handle making it portable and easy to use. The convex lens is something that bends the light passing through it. Bending of light causes virtual images. 

How do magnifying glasses burn things?

The convex lens in the magnifying glass causes things burn. The double convex lens in the magnifying glass focuses the beam of heat rays at one single point. Concentrating the energy at a single point causing a flammable object to set fire. 

Can you make magnifying glass fire without sun?

To create a fire, all you need to focus on how much energy you are focusing on the size of the area. The convex lens know how to do this. Sure, you can absolutely use laser light to create fire without sun. Laser light is a monochromatic light makes the purpose easy since we do not need to worry about the aberration of lens. Any source of light that has as much energy as sunlight will serve the purpose. 

Do magnifying glasses work underwater?

Usually, the regular and normal magnifying glass does not work under water. Because the refractive index of magnifying glass is equal (almost equal) to the refractive index of the water. Hence, the magnification power of magnifying glass is lost under water since there is no or a little refraction.

Creating Fire With Magnifying Glass go science girls
Some tips for allowing your kids to play with magnifying glass

If I am not wrong you actually don’t allow your kid to touch any type of glasses including magnifying glass. 🙂 I knew the reason as well, we all think that glasses hurt while playing but anything handled with care and also under proper guidance we can reduce such risks to our kids.

Exploring nature and science with the magnifying glass is so much fun for pre-school children and also attracts adults too irrespective of their age. Exploring with magnifying glass provides children an amazing platform where they can explore things in finer detail, and helps to make sense of world as well as extends their thinking power and motor skills. To top it off, using magnifying glass benefits kids to get exposed to optical technology.

When I first got the lens into my home, I just couldn’t stop my two kid’s anxiety and happiness. In fact, they both started fighting for one so later I had to buy one more. Uffff! Still I am happy to show them how we can set fire using magnifying glass.

First teach them how to handle magnifying glass as we are dealing with glasses and lens. Tell them all the necessary precautions to be taken while dealing with glasses.

Ask them to see their hands, skin, eyes, and the nature around them through magnifying glass. Tell them to observe carefully at everything that is present around them and ask them to notice the change in the size of anything or object. My kids are very much excited seeing things in a bigger view including small insects and tiny objects. This is the great way to explore the simple science around them in a simple way. You can use this simple activity not only for fun but also as a great educational tool. How cool!! Isn’t it!? Share your comments on how you used magnifying glass with your kids to explore science. 

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