A campfire is magical. How the coals glow and the flames flicker and the sparks pop and shower, its mesmerizing. But, you can make it even more magical with these simple tricks. It will get old if you use these all the time, but an occasional surprise makes a campfire at that special place or time something to be remembered.
Adding a small amount of chemicals to a hot burning fire can have an 'Ooooh-aaaah' effect. It's important to do these only after all cooking has been done on the fire and when there is little wind so the smoke can rise up rather than into campers' faces.
You may acquire these chemicals in a grocery or dry goods store, in the laundry or cleaner section.
Find copper sulfate in swimming pool supplies.
Epsom salts, borax, and calcium chloride may be found with laundry/cleaning supplies.
Copper Chloride, Strontium Chloride, and others my be best found at fireworks supply companies. I've purchased from Skylighter.com and been happy with them. Practice before using them at a campfire so you know how much to use and how to best apply for maximum effect.
(water softener salt)
|Copper Chloride||BLUE flame|
|LIGHT GREEN flame|
(tree root killer for plumbers)
|Strontium Chloride||RED flame|
|Lithium Chloride||RED flame|
|Calcium Chloride||ORANGE flame|
|Sugar||sprinkle into fire for tiny sparks|
|Powder Coffee Creamer||throw a handful into the flames above the fire for small sparkly flashes|
|Flour||toss a small amount into flame to make a flash flame|
|Iron filings||toss a small bit into flame to make gold sparks|
|Powdered aluminum||toss a small bit into flame to make silver sparks|
|Magnesium shavings||toss a small bit into flame to make very bright silver sparks|
So, then how do you get the chemicals into the fire? Well, throwing the powder in gives a burst of color, but then quickly dies out. You might want to do this for special effect when telling a story. But, to make the colors last longer, I've created wax patties which are made just like the Wax and Woodchips fire starters on the Firestarters page.
Don't use these patties if you want sparks, just toss the dry chemical on.
- Melt old candle wax in a double boiler.
- Get a bunch of small paper dixie cups.
- Pour about 1/4 inch of chemical into each cup.
- Pour melted wax into the cup to just cover the chemical and quickly stir it with an unfolded paperclip or other small stir rod. This is to thoroughly coat all the chemical.
- Let thoroughly cool and then peel or cut off the sides of the paper cup. I leave the paper bottom on.
Mixing different chemicals will not make a new color. Just add one single type at a time or put different kinds in different places.
You can always use the old way of sliding a length of garden hose inside a piece of copper tubing and tossing that in the fire.
Feb 20, 2019 - Zach millman
Using lithium chloride or strontium chloride for a more red flame would be your best bet.
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