Make Your Own Violet Fire

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It occurred to me how much fun it might be to make my own, actual and real, right in front of me, violet fire. So, I did some research, and surprisingly, it’s not that difficult.

Here’s a video that shows how to make violet or purple colored fire using common chemicals. You can vary how pink or blue the shade of purple is by changing the ratio of the chemicals. The blue-violet color is supplied by a potassium salt in salt substitute, which is edible. The red-violet color comes from strontium nitrate, which is found in red emergency flares. While a flare is not edible, the strontium compound generally is considered to be non-toxic.

Not satisfied with that nice little tutorial, I went looking for more and found this how to. Some of the information was already explained in the video, but it helps me to see things more than once so here it is:

Violet flames are very easy to make. All you do is sprinkle salt substitute on your fire. Salt substitute contains potassium chloride and potassium bitartrate. If you are familiar with the emission spectra from flame tests, you’ll recognize that potassium salts burn violet or purple. To me, the color seems more of a blue-violet, but you can get a more reddish purple if you mix a little strontium from the red fire tutorial in with the salt substitute.

Keep in mind, violet is not one of the colors your eyes see really well. The subtle glow of these flames can be completely overwhelmed by the colors from trace impurities. This means two things:

Use as pure a fuel as you can. I used Heet™ fuel treatment, which is methanol. If you sprinkle the salt substitute on your wood-burning campfire, the flames will change color but the color won’t necessarily be violet.

Use salt substitute and not lite salt. Lite salt is a mixture of normal table salt (sodium chloride) with potassium salts. The yellow from the sodium will

That tutorial seemed a bit technical to me, so I continued my search and came up with this:

Create a purple flame by burning potassium chloride, more commonly known as the salt that water softeners use. The purple color lasts as long as there is salt for the fire to burn. Fires that burn hotter will burn through the salt faster, making the color disappear faster. The burning potassium chloride is not harmful to breathe.

And this:

Here is how to make purple fire yourself using common ingredients. Keep in mind “purple” is a tricky fire color to produce because there is no wavelength of light that is responsible for a color between red and violet, yet fire colors mostly are produced by the emission spectra of chemicals. In order to get purple you need to produce violet flame and red flame.

You can burn the salts that produce the colors in any fire, but you’ll get the best results if you use a blue flame, like the type produced by lighter fluid or alcohol. You will need:

  • lighter fluid, alcohol or alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • lite salt (potassium chloride)
  • red emergency flare (contains strontium nitrate)

You can get the strontium nitrate from a Flare. The emergency flare is a long cardboard tube with a striker at one end. Leave the striker end alone and use your fingers to peel away the bottom of the cardboard to reveal the powdery substance inside the flare. Collect this material in a bowl or plastic baggie.

Tips and Cautions:

It’s fire, so treat it with respect. Further, be advised the flare contents will burn very brightly if you light them on their own. The best fuel for this project, in my opinion, is diluted alcohol where water can moderate the rate of combustion. I have used an ethanol-based hand sanitizer for the flame. The project also worked well with Ronsonol lighter fluid or with rubbing alcohol. However, when I lit the mixture without the liquid fuel I just got a bright red flame from the flare.

But wait, there’s more:

The following information came from a more technical website, but I love that there were lots of different ways to infuse the chemicals to create the color. The first part sounds a little scary, but it’s probably pretty easy to do:

To treat your dried material, in this case pine cones are used, mix about one pound (454g) of chemical per gallon of water in a plastic container. An empty five-gallon pail is ideal. Avoid metal containers because some chemicals may react and damage the container. Wear rubber gloves and safety glasses when handling chemicals. Work outside or in an appropriate work area. Some chemicals may stain your work surface.

Work with one batch of chemicals at a time to achieve the brightest colors. Dull colors could result if fuel is soaked in different solutions. A day of soaking should give the chemicals time to soak into the wood. Afterwards, lift and drain over the pail and spread on newspaper to dry. The newspaper can also be burned by rolling and wrapping tightly to form “logs”.

Burn the treated material in a well-ventilated fireplace. Wait till your fire has burned down to some coals and low flame, then add the treated material to see the best show of colors.

Another variation for creating fireplace colors is to make wax cakes containing chemicals. Start by melting paraffin (from candle stubs or from blocks of canning wax from the grocery store) in a double boiler. Do not melt over an open flame or it may ignite. Stir in one or two tablespoons of the recommended dry chemical. Let it cool, but while it is still liquid, pour the wax into small paper cake cups. When these have set they can be placed into a fireplace just like the treated pine cones described above.

For longer burning pine cones or to make colorful fire starters, melt paraffin wax as above. Dip pine cones in the wax then sprinkle with one of the listed chemicals before the wax completely sets. Or, try coating dry pine cones in white glue and sprinkling them with chemicals to produce a firestarter that burns brightly with color.

Note:

I always go overboard with stuff. LOL. But I really want to do this, and I wanted to be sure that I actually had a pretty good idea of how to do it before I started.

 

2 Responses to Make Your Own Violet Fire

  • And now that I’ve read this again, I think a candle would be easy to make too. Just soak or coat the wick in the potassium chloride, and then make a simple jar candle. Seems pretty easy I think potassium chloride is easy to find.

  • I think this is an awesome idea and sounds fun to make! I want to do this!

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