This is a guide on how to make a Fire Tornado in 5 simple steps. The purpose of this kinetic model, is to demonstrate the motion of a tornado through the visuals of a flame, as well as the show the Magnus effect. This is a fun project to do that is both simple, and fun to do. It can be done to entertain a class, friends, or your kids.
Made by: Matthew Han, Matthew Koessler of Wilson High School AP Physics Period: 5
Step 1: Materials List
- Wire mesh trash bin
- Bowl (to hold cotton swabs/sponge)
- Cotton swabs or sponge
- Isopropyl alcohol or kerosene
- Torch or match.
Step 2: Build the Base.
Place the kitchen turn table on a flat surface. Then place the wire mesh trash bin on top of the turn table directly in the middle (make sure it is in this middle as this will help keep the model stable while it is spinning). Place the bowl in the trash bin put it in the middle.
Step 3: Add Ingredients Into Bowl.
Place cotton swabs or a sponge into the glass bowl. From there, add isopropyl alcohol or kerosene to fuel the fire.
Finally, if you want to add a color effect, add some of the suggested metals on top of the cotton swabs/sponge.
List of suggested metals and the colors associated with them are added on the list below.
Color list(Color = Metal)
Carmine (Dark Red) = Lithium chloride
Red = Strontium chloride or Strontium nitrate
Orange = Calcium chloride
Yellow = Sodium chloride (table salt) or Sodium carbonate
Apple Green = Borax (Sodium Borate)
Green = Copper(II) sulfate, Boric Acid
Blue = Copper(I) chloride, Butane
Violet = 3 parts Potassium sulfate, 1 part Potassium nitrate (saltpeter)
Purple = Potassium chloride
Step 4: Ignite
Use a match or a lighter to ignite the isopropyl alcohol/kerosene.
(Wait a 5 - 10 seconds for the flame to build up).
Step 5: Spin
Once the fire is lit, spin the turn table at a moderate speed. (Do not spin too fast as sometimes, the bowl might displace and spill the oil. Spinning slightly can generate the fire tornado).
Step 6: Clean Up
Once done, wait for the turn table to stop spinning (and the tornado to die down), and drop a paper plate on top of the fire to douse it out. (This works because the plate blocks any oxygen from fueling the fire which will kill the fire once it depletes all the oxygen). You could also just use a bowl of water.
Step 7: Extra Tips!!!
- Make sure your glass bowl can handle the heat form the fire without cracking. Not all glass bowls can withstand high temperature.
- Be careful of picking up the bowl after you are done. The bowl should be hot. Wait approximately 2 minutes for it to cool down (Using gloves or tongs can help prevent any burns).
- Don't look straight into the trash bin from above, because once you start spinning it, the fire builds up extremely quick.
- If you have an audience make sure they do not stand too close to the fire, to prevent any injuries.