How to Make Green Fire
Have you ever watched Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and wanted to make that green fire they use for wizard transport? Well Harry Potter fans, you’ll be happy to know that It’s easy to make brilliant green fire. This cool chemistry project, (oh sorry… alchemy project), requires only two household chemicals.
WHAT YOU NEED:
- Boric Acid; (Medical grade boric acid can be found in the pharmacy sections of some stores for use as a disinfectant. It is a white powder. It’s not the same chemical as borax. I suggest using Enoz Roach Away™, which is 99% boric acid, sold with household insecticides.)
- Heet™ Gas Line Antifreeze and Water Remover; (Heet™ is sold with automotive chemicals.)
- Metal or Stoneware Container
WHAT TO DO:
- Pour some Heet™ into the container. How much you use will determine how long your fire will burn. I used about a half cup of Heet™ for approximately 10 minutes of fire.
- Sprinkle some boric acid into the liquid and swirl it around to mix it up. I used 1-2 teaspoons of powder. It won’t all dissolve, so don’t worry about some powder at the bottom of the container.
- Set the container on a heat-safe surface and ignite it with a lighter. There is a video on about.com to see the expected result. Here’s the link: http://video.about.com/chemistry/Green-Fire.htm
Green Fire Tips & Safety Information:
- Boric acid is a relatively safe household chemical. You can rinse the residue remaining in the container down the drain.
- This is an outdoor project. There isn’t a lot of smoke produced, nor is it particularly toxic, but the heat is intense. It will set off your smoke alarm.
- Be sure to set your container on a heat-safe surface. Similarly, don’t use any container that might shatter dangerously. Use metal or possibly stoneware, not glass, wood, or plastic.
- Heet™ is primarily methanol (methyl alcohol). You could try this project with other types of alcohol. Possibilities include ethanol, such as vodka or Everclear, or isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol). You might also try other common household metal salts for different flame colors.
- For example, I substituted rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) for the Heet™. The result was a fire that alternated from orange to blue to green. It wasn’t as spectacular as the Heet™ fire, but it was still pretty cool.
- The green fire could be used as a stunning Halloween decoration in a cauldron or possibly inside a jack-o-lantern.
- Keep the chemicals for this project out of reach of children or pets, since methanol is harmful if swallowed. Read and follow any safety precautions listed on the labels of the specific products you use.