Introduction: How to Make a Green Flame

Picture of How to Make a Green Flame
There are a multitude of ways to create green flames this is meerly one of them. I like this one because the chemicals required are really easy to get a hold of. First here's a video of it in action:

and at night . . .

The orange color you see near the middle is actually the match itself burning not the solution . . .if i hadn't dropped it in it would have been pure green.

Step 1: Gather Materials

Picture of Gather Materials
This is actually incredibly easy to do . . . .you'll need:
  • Boric Acid: commonly sold as roach killer at stores like home depot this large bottle cost about $6 and has enough for several hundred fires
  • Methanol: WARNING!!!! this stuff is extraordinarily dangerous . . . .if you inhale its fumes, drink it, or absorb it through your skin it could kill you and if it doesn't do that you'll probably be blind. . . .use extreme caution!!! You can buy it under the guise of "Heet" or gas line antifreeze from Walmart or any other store selling car equipment and chemicals.
*a ceramic container to burn stuff in . . .needs to be something that can take a great deal of heat.
As you'll be dealing with an alchohol fire it's important to exercise appropriate caution . . .it's extremely flammable.

Step 2: Mix

Strap on a face shield and an apron and take your chemicals outside away from anything flammable.

Pour about a teaspoon of your boric acid into the bottom of your container.

Carefully unscrew the cap of the Heet and make sure not to breathe in the fumes. Pour a few teaspoons on top of the boric acid.

Stir carefully so you don't spill anything.

You're now ready for some entertaining fire!

Step 3: Light!

Picture of Light!

Light a match(I had a match stick left over from some matchstick rockets) and carefully drop it into the solution. If you've got long matches you can simply touch the burning match to the solution and retrieve it. This will ensure you don't get any yellows or oranges . . .I think those make it kinda interesting but that's just a matter of personal taste.

WARNING::: the fumes created by the mixture before you light it are also flammable. Do not under any circumstances attempt to light this simply with a bic or other cigarette lighter . . .

If you do this at night it's even cooler.

Sit back and enjoy some colorful fire!


dodo91 (author)2009-03-10

WARNING! EXTREMLY TOXIC! if you didnt know this, than your luky im here. every time a fire is not normal color (a yellow, red, or blue) it is toxic. like when you burn cds, you see black fire. its toxic! DO NOT INHALE! YOU CAN GET LUNG DISEASES!!!

Kaelessin (author)dodo912009-09-17

I've been thinking and researching this since you made this comment off and on (between my final semester at the university a trip to Europe a new job as a computer analyst, and a whole host of other things my free time is quite a precious commodity) and despite your having witnessed it whilst camping I still cannot find any science to back up a black flame (and unfortunately I've no cd's I'm willing to burn at the moment) . . . flames are visible due to burning gasses and particles releasing energy in the form of heat and light. Light's got a broad spectrum ranging from purple to red and combination of these allow us to see colors not necessarily in the spectrum (by combined/interfering wavelengths eg pink) In terms of light (since the "color" black has different science associated with it), black is what we'd see in the absence of visible light so for you to be able to see a black flame something that is emitting no light has to emit light. ??? I still have to try burning a CD at some point but unless you saw a very deep purple that appeared black when compared to the surrounding flames I think your eyes were playing tricks on you . . .

dodo91 (author)Kaelessin2011-06-03

Ive been thinking about this for a while now. You know how heat can "bend" light... Like how when its hot outside, when you look at something in the distance, it looks all wavy... Maybe I was black Because My vision was bent ... i might have seen the sky... like a mirage... or however you spell it. IDK.

Kaelessin (author)dodo912011-06-06

potentially! . . .perhaps more experiments are warranted . . .

dodo91 (author)Kaelessin2009-11-19

They have black lights! doesnt that mean that black can be a light?

Kaelessin (author)dodo912009-11-20

blacklights emit UV light which is technicaly a shade of purple though it's at a wavelength we can't see

dodo91 (author)Kaelessin2009-09-21

if it was dark purple, it was really dark. it was night, and i was tired. my mind might have made it seem black, but i know it was a very dark color.

oldmanbeefjerky (author)dodo912010-08-24

lies, two example of non toxic coloured flames are oxidized castor sugar and coppor cabonate, both only release co2 and yet produce red and green flames, unless of course you meant that all fires were toxic, not just coloured fires

franklinonline (author)dodo912009-06-10

flame itself can be toxic, like if yoru stupid and you put it inside a sealed room, andyou dide of lack of oxygen and its the fumes burning plastic is toxic

dodo91 (author)franklinonline2009-09-21

you wouldnt die of lack of oxygen, just from the carbon dioxide fire emits....

sspence (author)dodo912010-07-01

Carbon dioxide? I think you mean carbon monoxide. You exhale carbon dioxide, it's not poisonous.

XxZombiexX (author)sspence2010-07-04

@ dodo91, @ sspence: Fire consumes oxygen at a rapid rate, so that's the first concern in a sealed environment. Typical fire types emit both O and O2, and both are harmful or fatal in the right concentrations, especially in the hypothetical sealed room mentioned. Carbon Monoxide is fatal at 10,000 ppm exposure within 1 minute, and Carbon Dioxide is fatal at 70% concentration within several minutes. (page 7/10) @ Kaelessin (author): I like this idea! I believe copper burns green as well, but this can be used in many ways metal couldn't. Thanks! Also, something in certain inks makes a blue flame...I used to know what it was.

MattGyver92 (author)dodo912009-05-04

Is that true? Burning cd's makes a black flame?

dodo91 (author)MattGyver922009-05-04

yes. ive done it at a boy scout campout. we went to lake mead for wakeboarding and tubing. we were going to sleep soon. i found a Hanna montana cd floating in the water. i picked it up, and tossed it in the fire. i put it on a stick to see it. it melts, and puts out a small blask flame on the disk.

albylovesscience (author)dodo912009-08-02

20 horrible music tracks down 139 to go

dodo91 (author)albylovesscience2009-11-19

LOL!! We need to destroy all of the hannah montana cds!

kicker109 (author)dodo912009-06-21

why dont you scratch off that shiny stuff and just burn that, less toxic (no plastic), hooray!! that is what makes the black flame. is it possible to get a really weird colourd flame by just throwing random things that arent meant to be burned in the fire?

The Ideanator (author)kicker1092009-09-16

Throwing random things that aren't meant to be burned in the fire is what you're supposed to do!!

Kaelessin (author)kicker1092009-08-20

full color magazine pages are always exciting! all sorts of colored flames!

The Ideanator (author)Kaelessin2009-09-16

Delicious too!

dodo91 (author)kicker1092009-06-29

probably. but some things might not burn.

The Ideanator (author)dodo912009-09-16

Really? Ive never seen black fire. I've seen black smoke, but not fire, how does one create black fire? I WANT BLACK FIRE!!! Oh, that reminds me, fireworks are always random colors, so are they toxic? what about colored smoke bombs? true they aren't colored toxic fire, but smoke is a byproduct of fire, and should be semi-toxic?

dodo91 (author)The Ideanator2009-09-21

fireworks dont use toxic chemicals. they use metals, and other stuff. it could be toxic if you sniff it like meth, but not if your just a couple of feet away. as to the stuff this guy made, its WAY more toxic. dont go near it and breath. YOU CAN SEVERLY HURT YOUR LUNGS!

The Ideanator (author)dodo912009-09-21

Why would I breathe it when I want to burn it? I've torched printed boards before and they REEEEK! My hair still stank like 3 showers later. Also I really cant stand smoke, I hate incense, let alone firework metals.

Hellchild (author)dodo912009-08-13

dont be so loud. besides the dude says the stuff is toxic. Also, burning CDs is really fun

CeGarra (author)dodo912009-07-28

CD's burn black!? omg, now i know wut to do when they r horribly scratched!

lancetheslayer (author)2010-01-17

can you put this in a lighter ?

x z i t (author)lancetheslayer2010-06-28

can you put your brain in your head?

build a BOOM (author)2010-01-15

 I thought at first cds meant cadmium sulfide, i think too hard .

RocketPenguin (author)2009-09-23

some reason the acid and alcohol separates for me .can someone help?

Kaelessin (author)RocketPenguin2009-09-28

sorry about the late reply . . . More than likely you've put an excess of boric acid into your solution. . . .you can either try adding less boric acid next time or to fix your current batch, add more alcohol. Also make sure you use Methanol (or methyl alcohol) since you need that type to dissolve the borric acid rather than just suspend it.

RocketPenguin (author)Kaelessin2009-11-15

thanks i will try it out!

dontodamax (author)2008-10-08

hay there was a video where if you light your hand on fire with rubbing achol and water it wont bare could you add a little water and it not kill you and still be green?

Kaelessin (author)dontodamax2008-10-08

well tbh it ought to work but im not sure you can actually mix water and methanol . . .wouldnt it just separate out again? If it's the hands on fire look you want but green then i would suggest some sort of glove to protect your hands (supposedly methanol passes right thru skin) either way you ought to be wearing gloves and be careful with the methanol.

franklinonline (author)Kaelessin2009-06-10

methanol-i think its called methlayted acohol and it absorbs water well if you read the heet bottle water remover pouring a water repelling thing would not help in getting water out and its not that toxic just mainly you cant drink i used heet for my jam jar jet(seach if you dont know what it is) and it leaked everywhere, into my skin and stuff and ime still alive to type this

sonaps (author)franklinonline2009-11-06

Methanol is the most simple organic alchohol.
Organic, carbon containing molecules are named for the number of carbons they contain in order of meth-, eth-, prop-, but-, etc (I'm too lazy to type them all) for 1, 2, 3, and 4 carbons, respectively.
All alchohols dissolve into water, and vice versa, so it would become a lower proof solution than you had before, possibly expelling some of the boric acid (or the water might take more in, I'm not sure).

dodo91 (author)dontodamax2009-09-21

also, the water doesnt take the effect away for that trick. it just stops it from burning - like how people like their fingers and put out a candle with it.

dodo91 (author)dontodamax2009-05-04

remember, this stuff is toxic. water shouldnt take that effect away.

bylerfamily (author)2009-07-11

Would this burn in a confined space or does it need oxygen to burn?

dodo91 (author)bylerfamily2009-09-21

you wouldnt want it in a confined place. would would die from the toxic fumes!!

Kaelessin (author)bylerfamily2009-07-11

good question! Unfortunately it does need oxygen to burn since it's pure fuel . . .I'd imagine that there's some way to incorporate an oxidizer with it but I'm not sure

bylerfamily (author)Kaelessin2009-07-12

To bad.Maybe I could dissolve some sodium chlorate into the liquid.

ScienceWiz (author)2009-08-18

Carbon Dioxide is toxic too... Yet you are breathing gallons of it right now... And if your playing with fire, I'm sure toxicity is the least of your problems.. I want to mix this with windshield wiper fluid, and fill a supersoaker with it!!! Great fourth of July gag!!! Hehehe

Kaelessin (author)ScienceWiz2009-08-20

heh true! I'm not too sure you'd need to mix it with windshield wiper fluid. The reason that stuff works well in supersoakers is the alcohol content burns. this is a higher concentration of alcohol so it ought to work better!

corn fluffleberry (author)2009-08-19

it looks like greek fire lol carful or it will explode lol

albylovesscience (author)2009-08-02

boric acid wow your playing with fire(no pun intended) or just playing with your life if inhaled it could mean bib trouble for you

CeGarra (author)2009-07-28

Can't i just throw a copper pipe into the fire? or use a piece of copper? it seems much easier and safer to me

Kaelessin (author)CeGarra2009-07-29

I'm sure that's possible but i found the chemical reaction to be the fascinating bit. :)

Cryptonat (author)2008-07-28

Could you not just buy Borax and use it instead of the roach killer?

Kaelessin (author)Cryptonat2008-07-28

yeah borax works too (and you can mix it with elmer's glue to make a really cool sludge type thing . . . my friend actually mixed boric acid with the glue to see what would happen and it made this really weird foamy but hard polymer type substance . . .very strange indeed)) but you get a slightly different shade of green and i'm a bit partial to this one . . .just a matter of opinion. Note that I'm not sure if borax dissolves in methanol like this one though as i've never tried it personally just seen pictures and the like.

About This Instructable




Bio: I am a recent recipient of a BS in Computer Science. Currently working for an eDiscovery company as a web repository technician (hosting, searching and ... More »
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