How your Chinese lanterns work

chinese lanterns use convectionAlthough it might seem as though Chinese lanterns work by magic (a common misconception, established by the stunning way in which they float into the night), it is not so. We’ve done our science homework, and have discovered that it is in fact a handy convection current that helps them to fly away, never to be seen again, and so we thought we’d share what we’ve learnt with you. So make yourselves comfortable for today’s invaluable lesson:
• The term ‘Convection’ refers to the transfer of heat energy through the movement of a liquid (or indeed a fluid or a gas).
• In the case of Chinese lanterns, the air that comes into contact with the heat source- this being the fuel cell– expands and becomes lighter, thus rising and filling the lantern with air. As there is nowhere for the air to escape once it has risen, it is forced to take the lantern with it.
• Once the heat source is taken away-that is, the fuel cell has burnt out- the air becomes heavier and falls, thus so does the lantern.
That’s all for today folks, we hope we’ve enlightened you, even if only a little…and of course you can now impress your friends and family with your extensive knowledge of the way things work.


5 Responses to How your Chinese lanterns work

  1. Shanna says:

    Just a question. will these lanterns fly in winter? a Manitoba winter -15 degrees?

    i want to release lanterns at my wedding reception in early March

    wondering if they will work.


  2. admin says:

    Hi Shanna,

    I can’t think of any reason why they wouldn’t work at low temperatures. As long as you can light them then they should work.

    I hope that helps.

    Kind Regards

  3. Michelle says:

    How long will the lanterns stay in the air? When they fall, how far away are they? –would we potentially creating a bunch of litter on someone elses property?

  4. admin says:

    Hi Michelle,

    The wish lanterns can stay in the air for upto 20 minutes and they can travel upto 1 mile high and 5 miles horizontally.

    There is no way of controlling where they land so you could potentially cause some unwanted litter. This is why we ask our customers to think about where they let them off although there are no laws which govern where you can and can’t let them off.

    Kind Regards

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