Monday, April 23, 2012

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Science Experiment: Make Colored Fire

 If you're doing this with preschoolers, making colored fire is more of a demonstration that they get to help organize...see the safety precautions below! 

Simple Supplies:
  • tissues or other flammable kindling
  • rubbing alcohol
  • powdered boric acid
  • long-handled lighter

Easy How-To:
  1. In a dark, well-ventilated area pour some alcohol onto your kindling.
  2. Sprinkle boric acid on top of the alcohol.
  3. Use the lighter to carefully ignite the alcohol.
  4. If you want an extra splash of color as the alcohol and/or kindling burn, carefully sprinkle a little more boric acid on the flame!

A Few Notes on SAFETY:

1-- Alcohol is very flammable and fire is hot.  Please take the necessary precautions to keep your children safe.  Never let a child handle fire or lighters.  
2-- Make sure you perform this experiment outdoors or in a well-ventilated area.  Do not breathe fumes.
3-- If you do additional burning experiments with chemicals you are unfamiliar with, look up their MSDS to make sure they are safe.  NEVER mix or burn chemicals unless you are certain the result is safe.
4-- When you are done, be sure your fire is completely extinguished and there is no danger of it re-igniting.

If you are careful, this is a fun and memorable experiment.  As I mentioned last week, my daughter has been very interested in experiments that explode, burn, and sparkle lately, so this is a natural step for her.  She actually brainstormed (and I helped her attempt) several other ways to get colored fire before I did this one for her.  She was most disappointed when food coloring did not yield the right color flame, but was very happy with the way this one turned out.  Different chemicals release different amounts of energy, which results in different colored flames.  Children really enjoy choosing different items to burn and anticipating the results.  Just remember Safety Note #3 above!

I may share at any of these parties!