Have you ever watched Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and wanted to make that green fire the characters use for magical transportation?
Whether or not you’re a fan of the HP franchise, green fire is fun and easy to make! Here are three ways to produce this incredible cinematic effect. Each methods requires common store-bought chemicals.
*Get an Adult* These common chemicals can be dangerous if ingested. Have an adult around when using an open flame. Perform this project outside!
- Boric acid (a white powder sold in some pharmacies as a disinfectant. You can also use Enoz Roach Away, which is an insecticide. Amazon link: Boric Acid)
- Borax laundry detergent (sold at most supermarkets. Amazon link: 20 Mule Team Borax)
- Copper sulfate (sold as an algicide and root-killer. Amazon link: Copper Sulfate)
- Methanol (you can use Heet Gas Line Antifreeze and Water Remover, which is sold with automotive chemicals. Amazon link: HEET)
- Metal or stoneware container (do not use glass, wood, or plastic. Amazon link: Metal Pan)
- Lighter (Amazon link: Lighter)
Method 1: Borax
- Pour some methanol into the metal or stoneware container. The more you use, the longer your green fire will burn. About a half cup of methanol will produce around 10 minutes of fire.
- Sprinkle some borax into the liquid and swirl it around to mix it up. One to two teaspoons of powder should be adequate. It won’t all dissolve, so don’t worry about some powder at the bottom of the container.
- Place the container on a heat-safe surface and ignite it with a lighter. This will produce a green fire.
Method 2: Boric Acid
- Perform the steps in Method 1, but use boric acid instead.
Method 3: Copper Sulfate
- Put a couple teaspoons of copper sulfate in a metal or stoneware container.
- Cover the copper sulfate with methanol.
- Set the container on a heat-safe surface and ignite the copper-sulfate and methanol mixture with a lighter. This will produce a green fire
- Borax and boric acid are relatively safe chemicals. Rinse the remaining residue in the container down the drain.
- Rules for how to dispose of copper sulfate vary from place to place. Typically, you can rinse small amounts down the drain with plenty of water. Consult your area’s environmental department for guidelines on how to handle copper sulfate.
When you heat boron and copper compounds, electrons absorb a certain amount of heat energy. This makes the electrons jump to higher energy levels. After a while, the electrons lose this energy and fall down to their original levels. They emit the lost energy in the form of light. Because the energy absorbed by electrons is different depending on the element, each element will give off a different color.