Fire without matches - how Goethe lit a fire

Doebereiner lighter © UniCat / Fanni Daruny Sypaseuth
Doebereiner lighter © UniCat / Martin Penno

How can you light a fire without matches? With chemistry and catalysis! Even before the invention of the match, chemist Johann Wolfgang Döbereiner and the celebrated poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe lit fires using catalysis.

We will show you how to replicate a Döbereiner lighter and explain how it works. This was the basis for the first fuel cell, 16 years later. Please also take a look at a replica of the experiment from 1839 that led to the first fuel cells at the next table!


House of Chemistry (Haus der Chemie), foyer

17:00 – 22:30

10 min, on-going

Suitable for children 6 years old and older, but not specifically geared towards children 

Type of event:
Demonstration, experiment

Wheelchair accessible