How to Make Yellow or Golden Fire

Flame Test - Sodium Carbonate
Sodium displays its brilliant yellow emission in this flame test of sodium carbonate. Søren Wedel Nielsen

Most flames from candles or wood burning fire are yellow, but you can color a blue flame so that it will become yellow. Here's what you do.

Chemicals That Produce Yellow Fire

Yellow can be caused by the temperature of a flame, but it can also come from the emission spectrum of a chemical as it is heated. Typically this is caused by the presence of sodium in a fuel. You can produce a yellow fire by adding any of these common sodium compounds to a fire:

  • Sodium chloride (table salt)
  • Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda)
  • Sodium bicarbonate (washing soda)

Making Yellow Fire

The yellow emission spectrum from sodium is so intense you really don't need to add sodium to most materials to produce a yellow flame. However, if you want to intensify the yellow color you can add salt to your fuel.

Most of the chemicals that produce yellow fire are soluble in water. Dissolve any of the salts in a very small amount of water or in rubbing alcohol, which is a mixture of alcohol and water. Mix the sodium solution with your fuel (e.g., naphtha, alcohol) to add yellow color to a blue or colorless flame.

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Your Citation
Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "How to Make Yellow or Golden Fire." ThoughtCo, Feb. 20, 2017, Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. (2017, February 20). How to Make Yellow or Golden Fire. Retrieved from Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "How to Make Yellow or Golden Fire." ThoughtCo. (accessed April 24, 2018).