Instructables
Picture of How to Start Fire with Water!
You probably already know a few ways to do this, but none that beats this method! It will not only make you be able to start a combustion with a drop of water, but it will be the coolest GREEN flame!

For a brief description please watch this video:


Note: Alot of people have mistakenly claimed that I have stolen video and pictures for this Instructable. To clear everything up, I didn't steal anything, I simply posted elsewhere long time ago, and eventually it became popular on the internet. Look in the beginning of the video for the signature.
 
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Step 1: Materials

Before we start, I must warn you. This is obiously NOT a safe experiment you should allow small kids to make, as this will combust with an explosive-like effect with a drop of water, and might not always go off the way you want it to. This mixture is hygroscopic (will soak moisture from air) because off the ammonium nitrate included. So if it is very humid or raining, making this is not a good idea.

Okay, so let's get started!
For this project we will need following items:

- An "Instant cold pack"
- Table salt
- Zinc powder (grey metal powder, can be bought from unitednuclear.com or inoxia.co.uk)

Further you'll need

- A scale, preferably precise to 0.1g
- A mortar and pestle to grind the mixture

Step 2: Ammonium nitrate

Start by cutting open the Instant cold pack. You'll notice there are two things inside:

- A bag of water, that you can throw away.
- White granules, consisting of ammonium nitrate.

We want the ammonium nitrate for this project, as it will act as oxidizer.
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DustyJK1 month ago
two years ago i did this experiment for my classmates to get them excited about chemistry. i have found the more reactive the metal in the salt is the better. potassium is 3 to 4 times more powerful that sodium . i haven't got to treat lithium chloride it should be the most reactive.
ShawM12 months ago

be careful when making this, as it may be illegal to intentionally create an explosion in some states. Massachusetts is one of them. The fine's anywhere from $10- $100, but it's unlikely you'll be caught.

how do you make the fire stop and what is a cold pack alexeagle6630
cold pack- sold at drugstores, used for injuries. you squeeze the pack of water inside and burst it, and the resulting reaction takes more energy than it creates, therefore making it cold. it's useful for sports, where there's no freezer around.

Some contain UREA instead of NH4NO3 so watch out!!

Once you light a mixture that has the oxidiser in it the only way to put it out is to remove the fuel source. So unless you want to poke a stick in it and try to scrape out the un-burnt part of the mixture while it's going you basicaly can't put it out.
TFrosty Jaycub5 years ago
You could put a bucket over it, getting rid of the oxygen. You have to eliminate one part of the fire triangle, source, heat, and oxygen
Jaycub TFrosty5 years ago
The amonium nitrate serves as an oxidizer, it doesn't need oxygen from the air.
TFrosty Jaycub5 years ago
My mistake. I completely blanked out on that.
DustyJK TFrosty2 years ago
Wow
If you have no idea what a cold pack is.....you shouldnt be trying this experiment!!!
hey it will go out in just about 3 seconds if you follow this guys amounts.
imiller810 months ago
A lithium strip from a disposable battery and a cup of water work just as good.
magnetizer1 year ago
COOOOOL!anybody with a few braincell,s can do this and its FREAKIN AWESOME .
Can we increase the explosion by increasing the components like everythingx2
DustyJK2 years ago
Would pottasium clorate replace ammonium nitrate
then could i use pottasium cloride as the salt
zoraxbrooks5 years ago
this would help when campin'
yep
techxpert3 years ago
a better name would be "insta fire just add water"
Mutantflame3 years ago
Would Aluminium powder work instead of zinc?

If not, would magnesium work?
cooldog6 years ago
can you sub the zinc with anything else i'm thinking of using it to start camp fires
When i was a kid, cub/scout master started a fire with a mysterious potion. It turned out to be potassium permangemate, sugar, and glycerine. He'd prepped the fire by grinding the potassium permangemate and sugar into a fine powder and laid it in the kindeling, then he just poored the glycerine on the fire in front of us, and whoosh FIRE! :D I experimented with it at home, warming the glycerine (only hand warm) improved the reaction. Can't remember the sugar to pot ratio, try half and half, but i think they're was more pot than sugar involved. Potassium permangemate is sold over the counter at chemists in tiny little pots, its quite cheap. Old people soak their feet in it or something. Who knows why? Beware it will dye anything very very purple on contact with moisture! Good luck (sorry no Zinc involved in this one:)
DANGER: Do not grind the permanganate and sugar together, there is a danger of explosion. Grind them seperately and then mix them.

Do not grind a permanganate, chlorate, or perchlorate with ANY organic material- there is danger of explosion.

YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!!!!!!
I saw Survivorman do this on Discovery. It seems a lot safer.
On Survivorman he usually uses magnesium. If you strike it with something hard, it sparks. The spark ignites some sort of fuel (firewood, coconut shellings, etc.). It's a lot different than getting the fire itself out of a chemical reaction. (Or did he actually do that once or twice?)
no kwixr is correct. it was not his usual metal match routine, but a chemical reaction w potassium permanganate and glycerin. he is also correct. it was a slow motion reaction which yielded fire. this would also work in a pinch and is good to know. thanks fr the instructable.
I saw that Survivorman. His was magnesium shavings and another common liquid--I want to say potassium or variant thereof. Only 2 ingredients, I think There was definitely mag and some liquid chem, and whoof--fire. Are there 2 common chemicals only that will create fire without extraordinary heat or something?
potassium permanganate is foot-soak, right? where do you get glycerin--antifreeze?
glycerin is over the counter sugary stuff, its used in cooking so should be able to be got at supermarket, if not from a chemist. as for antifreeze i think you're thinking of glycol - toxic! (and not flamable as far as i know)
I'm pretty sure that antifreeze has glycerol/glycerin in it. I even consulted Wikipedia
just been on the wiki page for antifreeze (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antifreeze) and a search of glyce..... returns nothing.
So no mention of glycerol/glycerin.

Ethylene Glycol (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethylene_glycol) is the main chemical in anti freeze and as I have already stated is toxic but not especially flammable.

Glycerin is available in food shops , I bought some recently from Sainsbury's in the baking section. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glycerol
Sorry what I meant to say is glucose is sugary glycerin is slimy and has virtuly no taste.I don't think I have seen glycerin in grocery stores. Though I could be wrong Though I have cooked for 14 yrs
fair enough, I could've been being too optimistic about availability. Definitely not hard to source from decent chemists though. Good luck fire people
No You'r thinking of Glucose
No, you're thinking of Glucose :p

I'm definately thinking of Glycerin, just checked me facts. Mine was a viscous clear liquid, much like this:
http://www.reachpharmacy.com/shop/customer/product.php?productid=23360

All the glucose I can find on the net looks like powders.

I'm standing by my previous Glycerin and Potassium Permangenate claims.

Unless you're suggesting that I'm thinking of Glucose as anti-freeze, but I can't imagine you'd be that wrong!
you can get glycerin from your local newspaper. it comes in 1 gallon jugs. most people who work at newspapers are hard-up for money anyway. slip em some cash and they'll snag some for you.
survivor man used hand sanitizer, which is basically glycerin. also, you can get pp at any pet store, its used to clean coy ponds.
Table salt turns it green, I think.
the zinc doubles as a green color. if you make pyrotechnics, add a bit of zinc powder to make it green.
pudi.dk (author)  jackspara6 years ago
No it doesn't, it catalyzes the reaction, but sodium ions have a yellow colorspectrum. Zink makes the green flame.
The ammonium nitrate makes it green. I've made ammonium nitrate rocket engines in my back yard. All you need is the ammonium nitrate and another oxidizer. Ammonium nitrate isn't the most reactive explosive in the world, but it was the explosive in the Oklahoma city bombing. =)
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