Ways to Color the Fire
Many of us probably remember using colorful pages of old magazines and newspapers to color the fire. You just needed to throw those pages into the flames to make them change their color, but the effect was hit-and-miss, it didn’t last long.
Many of us perhaps would like to know how to achieve a prolonged change of color. To make this effect last longer you’ll need to apply on the burning material some flame colorants, which can produce fire of different color.
Here is a list of flame colorants:
- White – Magnesium Sulfate;
- Red – Strontium Nitrate/Strontium Chloride;
- Carmine – Lithium Chloride;
- Purple – Potassium Chloride;
- Violet – 3 parts Potassium Sulfate & 1 part Potassium Nitrate;
- Blue – Copper Chloride;
- Green – Copper Sulfate/Boric Acid;
- Yellowish green – Borax;
- Yellow – table salt (Sodium Chloride)/Sodium Carbonate;
- Orange – a bleaching powder (Calcium Chloride).
Note, that most of these substances are quite easy to find in dry goods stores, grocery, laundry, or cleaner section.
Copper sulfate is found in swimming pool supplies. Potassium chloride is a salt substitute, you’ll find it in the spice section. Epsom salts, calcium chloride, and borax are found with cleaning and laundry supplies. Strontium chloride is obtained from rocketry or firework supplies stores.
Flame colorants can be liquid or in form of dry powder. Dry colorants should be tossed onto the flames. Liquid colorants are alcohol and aqueous (or water) solutions. They are used to prepare logs, sawdust, pinecones, or waste cork. Liquid colorants are actually prepared from dry ones. Powdered substance is dissolved in water or alcohol, the proportion roughly is half pound of dry colorant to a gallon of liquid.
The very procedure of coloring is quite easy.
- Pour enough water into a container so that logs, pinecones, sawdust, or cork could be dipped into it.
- Add powdered colorant to the liquid until it cannot dissolve.
- If you use cork or sawdust, add to the solution some glue, so that the small pieces could stick together and form bigger chunks.
- Soak logs, pinecones, sawdust, or cork and mix them to provide an even coating.
- Leave the material for several hours or for the whole night to soak in the colorant solution to make sure they catch the color well.
- Spread the logs or pieces of stuck-together sawdust and cork out to dry on paper. NB! The paper used to dry the colored material will afterwards produce colored flames too, if thrown into fire. Pinecones may be placed both on paper and into a mesh bag.
Don’t combine colorants to achieve a mixture of colors: highly probable effect will be just regular yellow flame. To make your fireplace multicolored, try following methods:
- treat some pinecones separately with different colorants;
- scatter a blend of differently colored and dried sawdust across the fireplace.
Some tips you may need while preparing material for coloring your fireplace:
- Sodium element burns with the ordinary yellow flame and can easily overwhelm other colors produced by other colorants. That’s why it’s not recommended to add sodium containing colorant into a mixture of colored pinecones, sawdust, or cork to make a multicolored fire.
- Use with care alcohol while preparing alcohol solutions: it’s highly flammable.
- In general keep colorants in a safe place away from children, handle them carefully, as they are potentially hazardous. Adhere to warnings if there are any listed on product labels. While preparing solutions or treating materials with colorants, wear protective gloves in order to protect your hands.
- Never use colorants to color BBQ fire, because some colorants are toxic and can produce toxic food.
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