Chemical Fire

Make Chemical Fire Without Matches or a Lighter

This is an example of chemical fire.
Several chemical reactions result in combustion, without requiring additional help from a match to get them going. Dorling Kindersley, Getty Images

No matches or lighter are needed to start a fire. Here are four ways to make one using chemical reactions. Each of these techniques is simple and requires only three chemicals each.

Chemical Fire #1

  • Potassium permanganate
  • Glycerin
  • Water

Add a few drops of glycerin to a few crystals of potassium permanganate. Accelerate the reaction by adding a couple of drops of water.

Chemical Fire #2

  • Acetone
  • Sulfuric acid
  • Potassium permanganate

Soak a tissue with acetone to make it more flammable. Next, draw sulfuric acid into a glass pipette. Dip the pipette into potassium permanganate so that the tip of the pipette is coated with a few crystals. Dispense the sulfuric acid onto the tissue. The potassium permanganate and sulfuric acid mix to produce manganese heptoxide and fire.

Chemical Fire #3

Mix a small amount of sodium chlorate and sugar. Initiate the reaction by adding a few drops of sulfuric acid.

Chemical Fire #4

Mix together a small amount of ammonium nitrate and zinc powder. Initiate the reaction by adding a few drops of hydrochloric acid.

Chemical Fire Safety

If you are performing a demonstration of chemical fire using any of these reactions, use very small amounts of the chemicals listed for each project.

Wear proper safety gear and work on a fire-safe surface.

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Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "Chemical Fire." ThoughtCo, Jan. 16, 2018, thoughtco.com/make-chemical-fire-607502. Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. (2018, January 16). Chemical Fire. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/make-chemical-fire-607502 Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "Chemical Fire." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/make-chemical-fire-607502 (accessed January 16, 2018).