Science, Tech, Math › Science How to Make a Rainbow of Colored Flames How to Color Flames Using Chemicals Share Flipboard Email Print You can make rainbow fire using common household ingredients. PM Images / Getty Images Science Chemistry Projects & Experiments Basics Chemical Laws Molecules Periodic Table Scientific Method Biochemistry Physical Chemistry Medical Chemistry Chemistry In Everyday Life Famous Chemists Activities for Kids Abbreviations & Acronyms Biology Physics Geology Astronomy Weather & Climate by Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Dr. Helmenstine holds a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences and is a science writer, educator, and consultant. She has taught science courses at the high school, college, and graduate levels. Updated August 12, 2019 It's easy to make a rainbow of colored flames using common household chemicals. Basically, what you need are chemicals for each of the colors, plus a fuel. Use a fuel that burns with a clean blue flame. Good choices include rubbing alcohol, 151 rum, hand sanitizer made with alcohol, lighter fluid, or alcohol fuel treatment. You can get a rainbow effect by placing chemicals directly on burning wood or paper, but sodium in these fuels produces a strongly yellow flame, which tends to overpower the other colors. Set Up the Rainbow On a fire-proof surface, line up small piles of powder for each of the colorants. You only need a small pinch of each chemical (1/2 teaspoon or less). Usually, you'll run your rainbow red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet (or the opposite direction). It works best if you try to keep the colorant chemicals separate. When the fuel is added, some of the colors naturally will run together. Once the chemicals are set up, there's no hurry to light the fire. When you are ready, add fuel and then light it at one end. You'll get the most vivid coloring using methanol, but it burns hot. Hand sanitizer burns with the coolest temperature flame, but the high water content means the rainbow fire doesn't last long. Feel free to experiment. One compromise is to dampen the powders with methanol and follow up with a layer of hand sanitizer. As the fuel burns, the water will naturally extinguish the flames. The colorant chemicals are not consumed by the flames, so you can add more fuel to renew the rainbow. Table of Flame Colorants Most of the chemicals used for the project can be obtained from a grocery store. All of them are available at a superstore, like a Walmart or Target Supercenter. Color Chemical Common Source Red strontium nitrate or a lithium salt contents of a red emergency flare or lithium from a lithium battery Orange calcium chloride or mix red/yellow chemicals calcium chloride bleaching powder or mix salt with flare contents Yellow sodium chloride table salt (sodium chloride) Green boric acid, borax, copper sulfate borax laundry booster, boric acid disinfectant or insect killer, copper sulfate root killer Blue alcohol rubbing alcohol, Heet methanol, 151 rum, or alcohol-based hand sanitizer, lighter fluid Violet potassium chloride salt substitute Rainbow Fire Safety Information In addition to performing the project on a heat-safe surface, it's a good idea to do it in a well-ventilated area, under a fume hood, or outdoors. There may be a small amount of smoke.Do not add fuel to the fire while it is still burning. Wait until the flames are extinguished and then add more alcohol and re-light the fire.The flames are easily extinguished by blowing them out, suffocating them (as with the lid of a pan), or by adding water.It's a good idea to wear protective eyewear and clothing, as for any science demonstration. Avoid wearing synthetic fabrics, as they readily melt if exposed to flame. Cotton, silk, and wool are good choices, or you can wear a lab coat. Continue Reading Make Colored Fire in Every Color of the Rainbow Easy Way to Make Purple Colored Fire How To Make Green Flames How to Make Fire in a Bottle How to Make Colored Candle Flames 20 All-Time Favorite Fire Projects 10 Amazing Chemical Reactions Create Colored Fireworks With This Rainbow Chemistry Lab Learn How to Make Green Fire Learn How to Really Set Fire to the Rain How to Make Red Fire How to Make a Smoke Bomb Here's How to Make Your Own Black Snake Fireworks at Home Find out Where Candle Wax Goes When a Candle Burns Make a Green Fire Whirlwind What State of Matter Is Fire or Flame?