Introduction: Make "Sterno" Flaming Jelly From Antacid, Vinegar and Alcohol

How to Make Flaming Jelly from Antacid, Vinegar and Alcohol.

Useful for camping, pyro, fondue and just setting stuff on fire in general.

First, get one of those antacids that have equal or greater than 1000mg of calcium carbonate per tablet. Crush the tablets into a powder. Then simply add 10-20mL of vinegar and stir. Let the mixture dry out until it becomes less than 5ml per tablet of volume. But keep it as a liquid slurry, if it dries out too much add some water. Once you have your slurry add it to rubbing alcohol in small amounts and stir until it becomes a jelly. Then scoop it out and light it up!

Exactly how much slurry you need depends on the particular antacid you choose. So just experiment until you get the right mixture. If you add too much slurry the mixture will liquify again. So trial and error are your best bets.

The tablets must have more than 1000mg of calcium carbonate, if its less then the reaction probably wont work.

We use 99% rubbing alcohol (isopropanol) because it is cheap and anyone can get it. Lesser pecentages might work, but we haven't tried them.

Ethanol (95%) works better but not everyone can get their hands on that.

What's happening is that you're creating calcium acetate from the calcium carbonate in the antacid and the acetic acid in the vinegar. Calcium acetate causes alcohols to gel. So with these two subtances you can get rubbing alcohol to gel. But because antacid has sugars and fillers the gel won't be as good as gel made from pure calcium acetate. If you can get your hands on pure calcium acetate then go with that instead.

You can purify calcium acetate from the above mixture by simply filtering out the slurry before you dry it. The calcium acetate will be in the filtrate (the liquid part) along with any soluble fillers like sugar. But it will be purer than before. Just let it evaporate down normally and this concentrated calcium acetate solution will be more effective at creating the jelly.

Don't play with fire if you don't know what you're doing.

Thanks for watching!

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abdi daleman (author)2016-09-21

nice post!!...this another way to make use methanol n n easy way ...

gearup500 (author)2014-11-21


gosomer (author)2012-03-27

Great video, would be perfect to put some in your camp bag for an emergency fire starter.

akinich (author)2011-03-24

hey nice ible!!
i would like to know if i can replace the antacid tablets with other
sources of calcium carbonate such as egg shells or chalk or even
sea shells!

reply fast

ak49er (author)akinich2011-10-24

An even better source might be agricultural lime - as in the kind you spread on your lawn. The principal ingredient in said lime is limestone - aka calcium carbnate.

texasprowler (author)2010-01-18

Denatured alcohol is cheap and readily available by the gallon at any hardware store. Isopropyl rubbing alcohol should never be burned because it produces a poisonous gas!!!!

tjesse (author)texasprowler2011-08-28

That's not true.

Arano (author)texasprowler2010-08-03

what poisonous gas other than those you get by burning anything?

birdman472 (author)2009-05-29

isn't chalk made from calcium carbonate? would that work? then you might not get the same amount of sugar, etc.

NurdRage (author)birdman4722009-05-29

Some chalk is, but some chalk sold in stores isn't. Because of this uncertainty we didn't include it in the video. But if you got stuff you were certain was calcium carbonate then go for it,. It will work better than antacid.

El Mano (author)NurdRage2009-06-04

By mixing antacid and vinegar, you should get the same result as vinegar and baking soda; you may not need antacid or chalk.

NurdRage (author)El Mano2009-06-04

No you don't get the same result baking soda and vinegar produces sodium acetate, what we want is calcium acetate which is responsible for the gelling effect. You cannot use sodium acetate. Therefore you MUST use a source of calcium carbonate, which is antacid or chalk, (or even egg shells but you'd need a lot of shells...)

dla888 (author)NurdRage2010-01-18

Would pure calcium carbonate work?

adsa (author)birdman4722009-06-17

most are, as well as marble and sea shells

petmjohn (author)2010-01-16

I would like for everyone to go and take a look at this link. It has the correct way to make "gelled fueled" listed, along with how to make your own "gelled fuel" camp stove. Here is the link and enjoy:

dla888 (author)2009-12-31

If one had pure calcium carbonate could they just use that?

Kaiven (author)2009-06-15

hehehe, finally something I can do at home! Flaming jelly sounds fun anyway

skinwalker (author)2009-06-02

along the lines of molotov cocktails ...would adding a bit of motor oil to this gel help its efficiency or shelf life possibly? "A Molotov cocktail consists of a glass bottle partly filled with flammable liquid, typically gasoline. When gasoline is used as the main ingredient, motor oil or sugar is commonly added to help the gasoline cling to the target." (a little sugar doesnt sound all that bad either.

d2j5 (author)2009-05-31

thats cool but could you store it for future use? i know alchohol evaporates kinda fast.

NurdRage (author)d2j52009-05-31

I don't see why not as long as you use an air-tight container. Sterno afterall is stored in tin cans. However i'm not absolutely certain it will work. This method produces gel that isn't as pure as sterno. Give it a shot and let me know how it turns out.

d2j5 (author)NurdRage2009-05-31

ok thanks, i was thinking like a glass baby food jar because of the rubber seal on it

lut21 (author)2009-05-01

Hi, have you tried it with methanol? What is cheaper, isopropanol or methanol? Have you done it with any carbomer? Nice video!

NurdRage (author)lut212009-05-01

It does not work with methanol. I have not tried it with any carbomer.

cwebsterlusk (author)2009-04-23

This is something i have to try! i love playing with fire. i have the same torch as the one in the vid!!!

Foxboy (author)2009-04-22

what's left once you've let it burn all the way out?

crayzclown1 (author)2009-03-28

thanks, ill try this

rebelzach (author)2009-03-16

Whats the best way to store this? Is there a good way to store it to make sure it won't spontaneously combust?

Biopyro (author)2009-03-10

I really like your instructables - this is great use of chemistry! If you did it with another metal ion, could you get a coloured flame, or does it only work with group 2 only?

NurdRage (author)Biopyro2009-03-10

I tried it with magnesium acetate but could not get a gel of usable properties. I haven't tried it with other ions, but i don't believe it would be advisable. The internal temperature of the gel doesn't get high enough to ionize the metal ions required to give a colored flame. Perhapes near the end during the ashing stage it might start to color. But i've never tried it. Another problem is that even if the other ions could form gels, the resulting smoke would contain those metals and this could be toxic. Calcium is relatively safe so it's not an issue. But this is all speculation, I haven't tried it with other metals except sodium and magnesium and only calcium seems to work. True science is about experiments with real data. thanks for commenting!

Kaelessin (author)2009-03-09

wow this is truly awesome! thanks for sharing this!

NurdRage (author)Kaelessin2009-03-09


Thanks for watching and taking the time to comment!

About This Instructable




Bio: NurdRage is a dedicate group of science nerds trying to further amateur science with direct how-to instructions in video format. We saw what was already ... More »
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