Household fires can be very dangerous. Research and testing is carried out to assess how materials burn. Four different fabrics are tested. Pure silk and pure cotton treated with a flame retardant are harder to set alight and need a naked flame to keep the fabric burning. The flame retardant cotton proved to be the safest fabric. This information is passed to furniture manufacturers. All household furniture and fabrics are now treated with fire retardants by law.

First broadcast:
5 March 2008

This clip could be used to support learning about materials and irreversible changes. It could be played to reinforce learning about burning materials. In class, pupils could be presented with a range of materials to burn over a night light. Small squares of fabric should be used, held in tongs in a sand filled tray. The children could make detailed observations about the way each material burns, whether there is an odour or smoke and what the end product is.

If possible, pupils could time how long each fabric takes to burn and record their findings in a table, constructing a graph if necessary. The question "Which material would form the best or worst sofa covering?" could be posed. Pupils should use their collected data to justify their decisions. The clip further highlights the practical application of such decisions and introduces the effects of using fire retardant on fabrics to reduce risk.