Colored pyrotechnics

Regular submitter [Jared Bouck] from Inventgeek.com has sent us this cool project. He wanted to make a fireball cannon, but didn’t want to settle for plain old fireballs.Instead of using a common  propane system, he built an alcohol based one so he had a “blank slate” to start with. He then applied some copper chloride to get the desired greens and blues. With all of the fire displays we see, how come we don’t see more colored flames? Check out the overview video after the break.

Comments

  1. Tim says:

    “how come we don’t see more colored flames”

    Because the chemicals you need to make colours are usually quite expensive and hard to find. Sad but true.

  2. I love you says:

    SO what…

  3. Pilotgeek says:

    omg, no way! this is soooo awesome! have the professionals figured out how to do this yet? i have never seen this before, ever. i didn’t even think this was possible! unless he’s a witch…
    / Burn him!
    // with his own magical colored flames!

  4. Jack says:

    I mean its not that expensive if ya want you can just use things like copper – green, magnesium – white, iron – red, cobalt – blue… its not that difficult to make filaments of these metals, nor to find them… I mean if you are doing pyrotechnics im sure that you could get the stuff from a chemical supply store or online…

  5. jayson anders says:

    It’s not that simple…. Yes the coloring agents are expensive because they have to be capable of dissolving in alcohol. Alcohol its self will burn blue and yellow. This is from the sodium present in almost anything around us. To burn clear and clean you need methyl alcohol. There are only a few things you can dissolve in this that will produce color. Like the lithium chloride and copper chloride. It’s also worth pointing out that the amount of copper chloride he used in his shot would cost about .35 per each 2oz shot. So expensive is relative…

    All in all… 10/10 geeky project!

  6. jayson anders says:

    Colored Fire Chemicals
    dark red = lithium chloride
    red = strontium chloride (found in emergency flares)
    orange = calcium chloride (a bleaching powder)
    yellow = sodium chloride (table salt) or sodium carbonate
    yellowish green = borax (sodium borate, a common insecticide and cleaning agent)
    green = copper sulfate (found in some pool and aquarium chemicals)
    blue = copper chloride (lab chemical, but other copper compounds found in algicides and fungicides may work)
    violet = 3 parts potassium sulfate, 1 part potassium nitrate (saltpeter)
    purple = potassium chloride (sometimes sold as a ‘lite’ salt)
    white = magnesium sulfate (Epsom salts)

  7. calebkraft says:

    We’ve used a copper pipe pinched closed at one end with holes drilled in it. Plop that in a camp fire with the open end out in the cooler air and you’ll get green flames. its reusable too. The effect isn’t as dramatic as this, but its enough to amuse people at a camp out.

  8. risu says:

    looks like a fun way to freak out the neighbors.

  9. Revolver says:

    It’s difficult to dissolve inorganic salts like chlorides, oxides or nitrates in organic solvents.
    Better settle for organic esters like the beautiful green burning Trimethyl borate. It’s easy to synthesize, too.

  10. ubernoober1477 says:

    is that the same sound the decepticons used to hack the us gov? haha

    slow motion is always cool

  11. R2D2 says:

    could the chemicals not be injected into the flame in powder form rather than trying to mix it into the alcohol? that way you can switch colours at will… (This may have already been answered in the video’s, but i’m in work and can’t watch them)

  12. strider_mt2k says:

    nice project!

    I like how the chemists emerge to help w/colors!
    excellent!

  13. lee says:

    question, where do you put the solution?? inside the tank or poured over the pvc fitting??

    also isn’t there yellow teflon tape that’s used specifically for gas, I guess it shouldn’t matter since it’s just air from the compressor…

  14. Hank says:

    I remember our AAS machine in the lab being able to produce a dramatic color change in the flame while only pulling a tiny bit of *very* dilute aqueous solution. half the machine is just a glorified spray nozzle that feeds into an acetylene/no2 or acetylene/air flame. more heat and smaller mist particles = more ionization.

    i’m not sure about scaling such a thing up, but don’t think it would be unreasonable to rig a blast of acetylene and aqueous mist in front of that torch.

  15. blackspyder says:

    This project’s big daddy:

    http://thegee-gnomeproject.blogspot.com/2009/07/blue-flame.html

    They mix a solution of methanol and coloring agents (lithium, copper chloride, etc) in a large (10+ gallon it seemed) container, and pushed it through the line with pressurized nitrogen, resulting in a 50-foot-high colored flame.

  16. Joel says:

    Eventually, someone *must* put together an RGB video display.

  17. Hirudinea says:

    Yea RGB, a tank with red colourant, one with blue and one with green, pipe them all through the same nozzle, control the amount of each and any coloured flame you want (in theory.)

  18. SIKDIDIT says:

    BRAVO!

  19. Mentalhall says:

    The pros have been aware of this for a long time, but have a hard time doing anything with liquid fuels; fire marshalls don’t allow it, NFPA code doesn’t allow it, and experience dictates a healthy fear of liquid fuel. Vapor is much safer, but more difficult to color. Also the expense lies not in the coloring agents but in the hardware required to handle methanol; stainless steel costs maybe 10x as much. Methanol eats aluminum, coloring salts corrode steel. It’s more challenging than it looks.

  20. Chuck Devon says:

    I know you wouldn’t get the color, but can the valve assy be connected to a filled propane tank (pressurized to 20psi) to get the fireball?

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