Purple Fire - Easy Instructions for Colored Flames

Easy Homemade Purple Fire

This purple fire results from heating potassium chloride and strontium chloride.
This purple fire results from heating potassium chloride and strontium chloride in a blue alcohol flame. Anne Helmenstine

Here is how to make purple fire yourself using common ingredients. Keep in mind "purple" is a tricky fire color to produce because there is no wavelength of light that is responsible for a color between red and violet, yet fire colors mostly are produced by the emission spectra of chemicals. In order to get purple, you need to produce violet flame and red flame.

Purple Fire Ingredients

You can burn the salts that produce the colors in any fire, but you'll get the best results if you use a blue flame, like the type produced by lighter fluid or alcohol.

  • Lighter fluid, alcohol or alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Lite salt (potassium chloride)
  • Red emergency flare (contains strontium nitrate)

Get Strontium from the Flare

The emergency flare is a long cardboard tube with a striker at one end. Leave the striker end alone and use your fingers to peel away the bottom of the cardboard to reveal the powdery substance inside the flare. Collect this material in a bowl or plastic baggie. You only need a little, so store the rest for later. You can throw away the cardboard and striker (though I kept the striker, hoping to find another project for it).

Make Purple Fire

All you need to do is sprinkle some of the contents of the flare and some lite salt onto a fireproof surface, add the fuel and ignite the mixture. The proportions of the chemicals are a matter of personal preference. Add more lite salt if you want a more violet flame. If you want a reddish or pink flame, use a larger amount of flare content.

Tips and Cautions

It's fire, so treat it with respect. Further, be advised the flare contents will burn very brightly if you light them on their own. The best fuel for this project, in my opinion, is diluted alcohol where water can moderate the rate of combustion. I used an ethanol-based hand sanitizer for the flame in the picture.

The project also worked well with Ronsonol lighter fluid or with rubbing alcohol. However, when I lit the mixture without the liquid fuel I just got a bright red flame from the flare.