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How To Make Green Flames

Green Flames Using Copper Sulfate

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These green flames are produced by the emission of excited copper ions.

These green flames are produced by the emission of excited copper ions when copper sulfate is added to burning alcohol.

Anne Helmenstine

It's easy to create green flames using copper sulfate, which you can find in common household products.

Green Flames Materials

  • copper sulfate
  • alcohol or alcohol-base fuel
Copper sulfate is found as the main ingredient in certain stump removal and algae control products. Be sure copper sulfate is listed on the product label. Other copper salts also produce green or blue flames, but not all are as safe. The project is easiest using granular or powdered copper sulfate, although you can use a liquid product. To use a liquid, you can either soak paper or wood and allow it to dry before burning it or you can pour the liquid into a shallow dish, allow it to evaporate and collect the solid for use in projects.

A Note about Fuel

I recommend using alcohol or an alcohol-based fuel because alcohol burns with a blue flame, so you'll get a bright green color from the copper. However, you will get green flames if you simply sprinkle copper sulfate on a wood fire or if you use a different fuel, except other chemicals in the fuel may add yellow, orange and red to the flame.

Make Green Flames

Simply sprinkle copper sulfate onto the fuel, light it and enjoy the green flames! The copper is not consumed by the fire so if you are burning a clean fuel you can reuse the copper sulfate again and again. Here's a YouTube video of copper sulfate green fire, showing you this project in action.

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