How to Change The Color of a Campfire Flame

By Contributor
Various flame colors on the same fire using multiple chemicals

How to change the color of the flame on a campfire (or almost any other fire) to red, orange, yellow, green, turquoise, purple, or white.



The most important and first step is read all the warnings for this article. If you don't, very bad things could happen.

Potassium Permanganate burning by itself

Now determine what color you want to change the flame to. The options are red, orange, yellow, green, turquoise, blue, purple, and bright white.

A Barium Chlorate enhanced fire

Now you need to get some of the material required to give you your desired color. Do note ahead of time that all of these materials are available on ebay or from specialized online retailers. You can search ebay or google products to find someone that sells them. None of them are terribly expensive. But if there's an easier way to get some, I'll mention it below. Here's the breakdown by color:

Red: any Strontium salt like Strontium carbonate, Strontium nitrate, and Strontium sulfate. It's commonly found in road flares so if you have one, gut it.

Orange: calcium chloride. It's in laundry bleach but it's too difficult to separate out from there

Yellow: Sodium Nitrate

Green: Barium salts such as Barium nitrate or Barium chlorate. Chlorate works the best by far.

Turquoise: Copper sulfate. It's found in algaecides for pools and ponds and possibly in a high enough concentration to work.

Blue: Copper Chloride

Purple: Potassium permanganate

White: Magnesium Sulfate. It's found in epsom salts but I haven't gotten it to react very well myself. I've heard plain old magnesium filings works so well, the intensity can damage your eyes so you might want to try that

Build a campfire and let it burn until there is a decent bed of red embers present. Let the flames die down a little but there should still be some visible. Usually about 1 foot flames with brightly glowing red embers is about right.

Carefully add your chosen material directly onto the embers. Add only a small amount at first to test and make sure no unexpected chemical reactions like an explosion occurs. Keep adding more until you see a noticeable change. It may take up to a minute for the effect on the flame to be visible.

Tip

The pure forms of each metal compound may produce a small colored effect if added directly. For instance magnesium and copper shavings may produce a slight white or green glow respectively for the absolute best effect, instead of using a campfire, use a homemade smoke bomb made out of powdered sugar and potassium nitrate with the chosen material mixed in. That will produce a very strong, colored flame. Read my other article on building smoke bombs if you want to try it that way

Warning

Most of the metal compounds used for any color are extremely toxic is breathed, eaten, or absorbed through the skin. Wear gloves, eye, and breathing protections when using. Any smoke or fumes created from the fire after adding the material is added may potentially be extremely toxic. The ashes left after the fire behind may contain toxic metal residue Some of these materials may cause the fire to flare up so add carefuly and from as far away as possible

About the Author

This article was created by a professional writer and edited by experienced copy editors, both qualified members of the Demand Media Studios community. All articles go through an editorial process that includes subject matter guidelines, plagiarism review, fact-checking, and other steps in an effort to provide reliable information.