Picture of Self-Igniting High Temperature Reaction
This is a pretty basic but nonetheless awesome demo. Glycerine (Glycerol, 1,2,3-propantriol) is mixed with potassium permanganate (KMnO4), and within about 30 seconds, the pile starts to smoke, then burns with a very hot lavender colored flame.

-This is a hot-burning reduction/oxidation reaction. It doesn't spark as a thermite reaction would, but still, don't do something dumb like put it on a wood table.
-KMnO4 likes to stain stuff. If it comes into contact with moisture it will form a purple solution that will render anything purple permanently (your skin will turn brown but that comes off in a few days)
-Non-science types don't understand chemistry. People fear things they don't understand. In other words, many ignorant people think chemistry is evil/terrorism/just plain bad, so don't do this around people if you know they are going to flip.
-I am not liable in the event of fire, explosion, injury, disability, death, act of God/Goddess, rabid squirrel attacks, subpoena, lawsuits, or any other dumb situation you might manage to get yourself in. Use your brain and use basic common sense

Warning: Science content!
If you want to figure out how to get a stoichiometric reaction (basically molecule for molecule reaction, most efficient burn) you can start with this equation:

14 KMnO4 + 4 C3H5(OH)3 --> 7 K2CO3 + 7 Mn2O3 + 5 CO2 + 16 H2O + HEAT

That calculates out to be 6 g KMnO4 for 1 g glycerin. Honestly, there isn't any point to weighting it out, it works just as well mixing approximate amounts.
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-Aj-7 years ago
best way to light thermite is to use 3 sparklers at the same time.
qualia -Aj-7 years ago
its the most efficient/easy/cheap/ foolproof way. its fairly difficult to light Mg ribbon in mildly windy conditions, whereas sparklers will burn even in mild rain. and sparklers can be inserted directly into a pile of thermite, without being extinguished. if you want a better way than either mg ribbon or thermite, use very thin-walled Mg tubing, filled with potassium nitrate. at the tip of the device, pack slow burning gunpowder for easy ignition.
DeusXMachina (author)  qualia7 years ago
Where the HECK do you get Mg Tubing?
my reaction exactly!
puffyfluff6 years ago
I'm getting wild ideas...
You could make this like a grenade, so when you pull the pin it mixes the two chemicals and eventually explodes.
Hey, that's a great idea!
It really won't explode, just catch on fire. I suppose you could make it into some kind of fire paste like napalm if you could slow down the ignition time...
ilpug3 years ago
We did this in chemistry class, it works great!
DeusXMachina (author) 8 years ago
@ pyromaniac3-2-1 - unfortunately as oxidizers go, KMnO4 is no where near as reactive as nitrates, chlorates, or perchlorates. I've tried making firecrackers using fine charcoal and permanganate but it did bubkus. And I found this out through my awesome 10th grade chem teacher. Imagine the Roaming Gnome or Santa Claus in a lab coat. At the end of the year he'd shoot spudguns out the window. @Andrew - Wikipedia says that early flashpowder formulations used permanganate, but I have no clue what other ingredients were used with. I would think that permanganate reacts too slow, but maybe if you had aluminum and KMnO4 in a 1:3 ratio, with a dash of KClO3 for sensitivity, I think that would work. You would need very fine aluminum and you would probably have to run the permanganate through a ball mill first.
You had Mr. Albee for Chemistry too?
sulpher and fine mesh dark german aluminum powder is what your missing.
YoungPyro195 years ago
Very nice instructable.
history3235 years ago
hey great 'ible
 do you know if this could ignite thermite?
QwertyuioLP6 years ago
can this burn through wood? metal? plastic?
DeusXMachina (author)  QwertyuioLP6 years ago
It can burn through wood and plastic pretty easily, although not very much of it. It doesn't quite have the penetrating power of Thermite.
ramses7 years ago
DeusXMachina- where did you get the KMnO4, I found some at tractor supply $24 for 5 lbs, and at ace $12 for 1.5lbs. where did you find it so cheap?
DeusXMachina (author)  ramses7 years ago
Ace. I dunno why you got charged so much or why I got charged so little.
Yours was probably on sale.
that's what.... *cackling*
crapflinger8 years ago
hehe i like how in the second video you can see an ant (or some other bug) running for it's life
Yeah,that is funny.
lol thats what i was thinkin
funny as hell
I remember something from my 8th Grade science class that had to do with catalysts. I think we were making KMnO4 and the catalysts was a copper bb. Mine didn't change very quickly until some moron bumped into me and dumped it all over my light colored shirt and stained it purple. My teacher mixed something up in a beaker that took it right out. I forgot what it was he mixed up in that beaker but he said it was a miracle cleaner and would clean almost every stain. It was pretty amazing stuff.
You mix 30% hydrogen peroxide,40% vinegar and 30% water to clean off permanganate stains.
hahaha probably a mild bleach. (theres more than one type of bleach, you know)
Anything that will break the oxygen bonds will work in that case.
Evilblaze6 years ago
Hehe, nice:-) I did this with ethylene glycol, that was also a good fun. Have you tried self igniting mix with ammonium-permanganate? NH4MnO4 is a much more stronger oxidizer than KMnO4, it is a class 5 oxidiser (like +80% H2O2). I will test it soon.
lobo_pal6 years ago
KMnO4 can be used as a prank if you put it in a pool, the water will turn purple, but it will dye the pool, so don't do it to your's.
unless you have a purple pool to start with.
Yeah, also, I wouldn't recommend swimming in it. Great to use on enemies.
rerat8 years ago
Is this the "mix 'blur' with 'blur'" reaction Mythbusters used to light their thermite?
no, you need some type of magnesium compound to ignite thermite. it takes ALOT of heat and the easiest source is made with magnesium. google is a magical thing that will tell you exactly what you want to know.
under the right conditions(which most people cant replicate), thermite is easily ignited with a common Bic lighter :)
thermite does need high temperatures to initiate the reaction. it is still very easy to do with a few sparklers (like aj says) which are made out of some mixture of magnesium. a lighter will not start thermite.
notice that he said under the right conditions and which most people can't replicate as well.
No, what they where "blurring" out was the ingredients to thermite(Aluminum powder 400 mesh & Iron oxide Rust), they lit it with a strip of Magnesium Ribbon. all EXTREMLY easy to obtain, and they couldn't telivise that for obvious reasons.
Which obvious reasons are those? Anyone interested has to only google the word thermite to find the ingredients. It's done as a demo in some schools even, an exciting example of a Displacement / Redox reaction.
DeusXMachina (author)  Digital_Anarchy7 years ago
it's a liability thing, i think.

America: Where everybody sues everyone for everything
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