Introduction: How To: Ghastly Green Fire, at Home! (And Why It Burns Green...)

Remember to read any precautions on the Borax and Methanol labels carefully before starting this experiment.

Hello, today I am going to demonstrate how to make some awesome, vividly Green colored flames, using some ingredients you can find at your local Super-Mart.

The only thing(s) you should need to buy is: (Possibly not if you already have them)

-Methanol (Methyl Alcohol) Can be found sold under the name of "Heet", it is used as a Gasline Antifreeze. It should be able to be found in any store that sells auto parts. (Comes in a yellow container.)

Note: "Iso-Heet" is not the same thing as "Heet." As it is instead Isopropanol (Isopropyl Alcohol), and this should not be used. Aside from clearly saying "Iso-Heet" on the bottle, it instead comes in a Red container so it should be easy to distinguish between the two.

-The second ingredient is simple Sodium Borate, better know as Borax. This is used as a laundry booster, and as cleaning agent. As such, it should be able to be found anywhere those items are sold.

Note: If by chance you have Boric Acid instead of Borax, you can use it instead in the same way.


Other things you'll need, but probably have already laying around:
-Scooping/Mixing Utensil (Spoon, Popsicle stick, Ect.)
-Matches/Lighter/Fire Source
-Fireproof Bowl, Preferably Metal

If you have all of these, we can move onto the next step.

Step 1: Mix the Ingredients

Picture of Mix the Ingredients

This step is simple, just take some of the Methyl Alcohol or "Heet" (I'm using about half a cup) and add it too your Fire-Safe bowl.

Next take some of your Borax (Also known as Sodium Borate, Sodium Tetraborate or Disodium Tetraborate) and also add it to your bowl (You could also instead use Boric acid if you have it.) I'm using a couple of spoonfuls, you should note that it doesn't take that much. You should then stir it for around for about 30 seconds.

By mixing the Disodium Borate (Borax) with the Methanol ("Heet") what we are doing is synthesizing Trimethyl Borate, which burns distinctively Green due to the presence of the Element Boron.


So after you have thoroughly mixed it up, all you have to do is light it with a Match or such. Remember, keep your hands away from where the flames will be to avoid accidentally burning yourself. If all is right, you should have some really cool green flames to look at.

After awhile though you'll more than likely start getting some Golden Yellow highlights to the flames, and then eventually they'll turn yellow all together. This is simply from the flame burning down enough that it reaches the Sodium Borate. The Sodium Borate burns distinctively yellow due to the presence of the Element Sodium. This overpowers the Green color of the Boron fairly easily.

This is why using only a little Borax is better than using a whole bunch. If you use Boric acid however, this shouldn't happen seeing as it contains no Sodium.

Welp that's it, just remember to have fun and be safe, this is playing with fire after all!

On one last note, this doesn't produce any particularly harmful fumes while burning but it will produce CO2, and large amounts of this can be bad. So just to be safe, please do this in a well ventilated area or even outside. This can also cause certain fire alarms to trigger (Ionization Fire-Alarms in particular) so unless you want a sudden scare, it's best to once again do this in a well ventilated area or outside away from any of said alarms.

Thanks again, and if you like this please show you support by Liking the video, Following/Subscribing, and commenting. It means a lot!!

Comments

sloible (author)2015-10-13

I was trying to search for the crystals that we used to buy to sprinkle in the fireplace & campfires for Colors.
Thank You
I Love this! <3

rmcculloch (author)2015-07-06

How long do the flames last for?

morfioos (author)2015-03-31

Nice, I love it.

The Green Gentleman (author)2015-03-29

I did my first instructable on green fire! I used the methanol/boric acid combination. The white stuff that looks like smoke coming off the fire is B2O3, also called boric anhydride. I got all kinds of ridiculous comments about the danger of burning methanol and boric acid. I was threatened with blindness and sterility. I like your write-up and photos! Nice job!

Actually I just read two of your Instrutables yesterday on the lamps you made, and had read read those same comments. I think you dealt with them very well, you had nice examples and points to back yourself up. Actually If you read down a little in these comments, you'll find one of those same people trying to say the same things here.

Anyways I think it was a very cool concept you had done. And a very good Instructable, thanks for commenting!

Thanks Trollface! Hey, just saw you're from MI too. Something about that state makes people want to set crap on fire ... in a good way.

It's probably has to do a little with the weather... Makes people a little stir crazy... *Maniacal Smile*

Beergnome (author)2015-03-23

you can use common denatured alcohol as well, probably cheaper as well.. also try soaking flammable things such as pine cones in the solution and allow to dry, then, the next time you have a campfire rolling you can toss a few in for a light show

This stuff will not burn Green when dried, it'll burn yellow due to sodium contamination. Unless you are referring to the Trimetyl Borate itself.

And have you must be referring to Triethyl Borate, which I have not tested out before. But it's possible the stuff thy use to denature it, might be toxic to burn.

slo5oh (author)TrollFaceTheMan2015-03-24

Denatured alcohol is safe to burn. Both it and heet are commonly used in the DIY alcohol camp stoves because they burn clean. Google the RUCAS.

droxoracle (author)slo5oh2015-03-24

It's my understanding is that denatured alcohol (ethanol) would give off too bright of an orange flame to see any other colors very well.

Beergnome (author)droxoracle2015-03-25

it is from my experience that denatured alcohol burns blueish and the addition of Boric acid makes it burn green, and soaking a pine cone in the solution will cause a pine cone to burn green..

one could use Isoalocohol to the same purpose, I just feel that hardware store alcohol is cheaper at the end of the day

josephlebold (author)Beergnome2015-03-26

Try burning some beer and see.

To low of Ethanol content to substain a flame.

Somebody else did it an apperantly it worke pretty good!

junits15 (author)TrollFaceTheMan2015-03-26

Denatured alcohol is safe to burn, it's one of its main uses

TrollFaceTheMan (author)junits152015-03-26

Not necessarily, Denatured alcohol is different based on where you get it from. When you buy it from some place like a Pharmacy Store it is made as an antiseptic, if you buy it from a place that sells it as a fuel then that is what it is made for...

Based on that, it's possible for them to use different chemicals to denature the alcohol. For the antiseptic (Which is not made to be burnt) it is possible that they could add a chemical that denatures the alcohol but is not safe to burn and be inhaled, as it might be cheaper than the one that is meant to be burnt.

It's jsut in my opinion best to check first to be safe.

Just*

AndrewW2 (author)2015-03-28

This would be awesome to do on Halloween.

TrollFaceTheMan (author)AndrewW22015-03-29

The Green Gentleman did a cool Instructable on how to make a lantern for this here: (https://www.instructables.com/id/Bride-of-Spirit-Lantern/)

gerflash (author)2015-03-28

I tried it last night. I was hoping that using boric acid instead of borax would eliminate the yellow sodium flame, but it didn't. Why not, I wonder. The green and yellow blend wasn't bad, though. Any suggestions?

TrollFaceTheMan (author)gerflash2015-03-29

Had someone else do this and it burned Green all the way till the last little bit, then started to burn yellow as it got right to the bottom. I believe It might have to do with the type of container that you are burning in. Or possibly the flames temperature towards the end of burning.

RealMaxwell made it! (author)2015-03-29

Amazing! Used Crown denatured alcohol and Hot Shot roach powder in a metal dish outside. Burned pure green until the very end when there was some yellow. How dangerous is the white smoke and white residue in the dish? Thanks!

if you had used Methanol the white stuff would of been Boric Anhydride, it is very Hazardous to eat however it is considered "Slightly Hazardous" to inhale (As in it is considered a minor irritant in small amounts.)

However I'm not quite sure what it would be if using Ethyl, I believe it should be the same (For the most part.) As Boric Anhydride is just Oxidize Boron. But as for the rest of White Smoke...

Because of the additives in Denatured Ethyl Alcohol and potential reactions with the Boric Acid, I can't say for certain that's all that is being produced.

Real cool photo, and thanks for sharing!

gerflash (author)2015-03-26

I'm gonna do this! I do have some boric acid and methanol on hand (from any hardware store), but I wanted to post a safety note: Methanol is highly poisonous; beware of the vapors - it attacks the optic nerve and can cause blindness. Ingesting it, you die. So don't do that. And watch the vapors. Burnt, of course, is okay - just CO2 and H2O. BTW, seems to me that boric acid (vice borax) would avoid the yellow flames, since there's no sodium in boric acid.

TrollFaceTheMan (author)gerflash2015-03-27

Thank you for taking this time to write out this warning.

phlfm (author)2015-03-27

BE AWARE...There are a LOT of instructables that treat Methanol lightly. Methanol is a HIGHLY TOXIC alcohol. In the video you pour it in a poorly ventilated area and then put it on fire which increases it's evaporation (combustion never is 100% effective).

When I worked with methanol in a research lab we ALWAYS had to use it in a closed bench with laminar flow over it. It is very toxic.

TrollFaceTheMan (author)phlfm2015-03-27

First off, do not make assumptions that I'm doing this experiment in a "Poorly ventilated area." Second off, you do realize that what you are saying is incorrect...

One of the primary things a lot of hikers, campers, and outdoors enthusiast choose as an alcohol fuel of choice is methanol, why..? Well I'm sure it's not because it'll kill them like how you are implying, actually it burns very cleanly.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chafing_fuel (You can even by Methanol Chafing fuel.)


Even the denatured Ethyl made by companies *Especially for burning* has Methonal added to it as part of the denaturing process. Are you trying to tell me they'd add something so dangerous to their product, to what..? Kill off their consumers!? Seems like it'd be a terrible Business strategy to me...

Anyways It'll take at least 10ml of Methanol to be ingested in one sitting to have the potential to make you go blind, that would be somebody drinking a fourth of a shot glass of the stuff. An you'd have to take almost a whole shot glass full of the stuff to kill you. Neither of which would ever happen via inhalation, or skin absorption in such a small period of time. (By the way, small amounts of Methonal is produced in the body naturally, it is only toxic in large quantities...)

Besides did you know that Methanol is actually *Less Toxic* and *Less of a Hazard* to Human health than gasoline..?

(http://www.fuelcellmarkets.com/content/images/articles/meth_vs_gas.pdf)

Plus your nose can pick up levels of methanol in the air in as little concentrations of 1,000 ppm (0.1%) meaning unless you can smell the Methonal, then your not in any real risk of anything. (Which unless you are doing something like this in a small cardboard box, I can assure that the concentration should never get close to that high...)


You coming on here to Fear Monger is not appreciated especially when your points are invalid.

So in conclusion, please don't you ever come on to here and try to say that I'd take something like this "*lightly...*" That is highly insulating! I don't mind you suggesting something, but the difference is you came one here and made wrong assumptions about me and what I am doing without actually having anything substantial to back it up! And yet you still have the nerve to dare say I take this "*Lightly!!*" (And don't try to pretend that that was a generalized statement we all know that was directed at me...)

No, the difference is between you and me is I actually did my research. And made sure that this is safe enough for the average person to do without risk. And I don't think I should have to tell people that you shouldn't drink the stuff, or huff it, or stick your hand in it... Especially as it is *Clearly listed* on the back label of whatever the Methanol container you have is... I have confidence that people are smart enough to not do this without me warning them like they are five years old...

-Thank you

mttyd (author)2015-03-24

We used to throw a piece of garden hose and a piece of copper pipe together in the campfire to get all sorts of colors. Pretty sure it took some years of of our lives though...

bpark1000 (author)mttyd2015-03-26

What you are doing is first burning the hose, which is poly vinyl chloride. That makes hydrochloric acid, which reacts with the copper producing copper chloride. That is volatile, boiling off, and then breaks down releasing copper atoms into the flame, which glow green. The solid copper doesn't glow because it is not volatile enough at the flame temperature to be dispersed into the flame. This is a useful test for halogens. (You can make a Freon detector, to find air-conditioner leaks, by putting a copper loop in a propane torch flame. The air holes of the torch, where the combustion air is drawn in, you connect to a manifold and then to a "sniffer" hose. When Freon is drawn in, it makes halogen acid, hydrogen-fluoride or chloride, attacks the copper forming volatile copper halide, dispersing it into the flame. A bright green glow streaming from the copper loop indicates a Freon leak. It is a very sensitive test.)

uhlmann (author)bpark10002015-03-27

Thank you very much for that explanation!! I have always wondered what it was about garden hose that made it do that!

uhlmann (author)mttyd2015-03-26

A relative of mine has done the same thing. I'd really like to know what reaction is going on there!!

josephlebold (author)uhlmann2015-03-26

I've heard of that method as well.
Copper sulfate in a fire will turn it green.
Some stores sell small packets of copper sulphate for colouring your campfire.

uhlmann (author)josephlebold2015-03-26

So I wonder if garden hose has some sufate in its composition? If the hose melts, does it combine with the copper from the pipe? Interesting stuff!!

bpark1000 (author)uhlmann2015-03-26

Hose provides chlorine. See my comment above.

bpark1000 (author)josephlebold2015-03-26

...but salt must be mixed in to provide chlorine to volatilize the copper.

mimaki cg60 (author)2015-03-27

Awesome idea! I began to wonder about the possibility of doing it inside an old hollowed out light bulb (like the light bulb oil lamps you find on instructables).

PS. Your voice is beautiful, I wonder if you have any guitar playing + singing videos xD

TrollFaceTheMan (author)2015-03-26

I appreciate if you like this Instructable, that you show me some love and hit the vote button <3 Thanks!

sharpstick (author)2015-03-26

Neat trick. (But your background music is so loud it's hard to hear your voice)

I'll keep that in mind when i do my next video thanks.

AFC1 (author)2015-03-26

Cool stuff! How long does it usually last?

TrollFaceTheMan (author)AFC12015-03-26

Depends on how much you use, and how much surface area the fire covers.

rkrishnan7 (author)2015-03-26

Very interesting 'ible!

Not to get too paranoid about safety, could you add a note on the best way to extinguish the flames if one so felt the need? I have heard that fires reactions that include oxidizers (as opposed to burning in free air) are harder to put down.

This shouldn't have any oxidizers added to it. But if you watch the video I do go over how to put it out out quickly, which is best. I just take a pot and put it over the bowl to starve out the oxygen, it puts it out really easy.

v_barnett2002 (author)2015-03-26

Very cool! Thanks for sharing!

Thanks for commenting.

jeanniel1 (author)2015-03-26

How cool is THIS? SO simple, and I think offering Boric Acid would be better unless one wants yellow flames

I had stated that briefly

"The Sodium Borate burns distinctively yellow due to the presence of the
Element Sodium. This overpowers the Green color of the Boron fairly
easily.

This is why using only a little Borax is better than
using a whole bunch. If you use Boric acid however, this shouldn't
happen seeing as it contains no Sodium."

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