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Fire & Combustion Chemistry

Get facts and find projects related to fire, candles, and combustion.
  1. Fire Videos
  2. Fun Fire Projects (94)

What Is Fire Made Of?
Here is an explanation of what fire is made of.

Why Is Fire Hot?
Learn what fire is and why fire is hot.

What is the State of Matter of Fire?
What is the state of matter of fire or flame? Is it a liquid, solid, or gas? Learn the answer to this question and get information about the chemistry of fire.

Chemical Fire
Learn four ways to make fire using chemical reactions. No matches or lighter are needed to start the fire.

Flame Tests
A flame test is a chemistry procedure that is used to test for the presence of metal ions. The emission spectrum of each element produces a characteristic flame color. This photo gallery shows representative flame tests for common metal ions.

Fire & Flames Photo Gallery
Fire and flames are the visible result of combustion. Usually they consist of light and hot gases. Here's a look at some fire, flames, and pyrotechnics.

Black Powder or Gunpowder
Black powder is used as a propellant for bullets, as well as for fireworks and rocketry. Use these instructions for history, not practical application!

Green Fire Instructions
It's easy to make brilliant green fire. This cool chemistry project only takes two household chemicals.

Burning Money Chemistry Demonstration
Set money on fire and watch it burn out without damaging the bill. This is a nice magic trick, based on everyday chemistry.

Can a Candle Burn in Zero Gravity?
Can a candle burn in the absence of gravity? Here's the answer to this frequently asked question about fire.

Chemistry of Firework Colors
Fireworks combine art and science. This article focuses on the chemistry behind firework colors, including the mechanisms of color production and a table listing colorants. There are links to websites about fireworks - some with instructions for making your own!

Classic Chemical Volcano
Here are the instructions for making the classic chemical volcano. This demonstration uses ammonium dichromate to produce 'Vesuvius fire', with glowing sparks and a cone of deep green ash.

Colored Fire Spray Bottles
You can spritz a flame with chemicals to change the color of the fire. Colored fire spray bottles are easy to prepare and use common chemicals.

Colored Smoke Recipes
Colored smoke is easy to make and requires few ingredients. Here's a list of some colored smoke formulations to try.

Dancing Gummi Bear Demonstration
Place a Gummi Bear candy into a test tube containing molten potassium chlorate and watch it dance amidst purple flames. This stunning demonstration is an example of a strongly product-favored reaction, plus it's a lot of fun.

Elements in Fireworks
Learn about the functions of the chemical elements in fireworks.

Fireball Instructions
If you can find a tee shirt and some lighter fluid, you can make small fireballs. These fireballs are re-useable. Theoretically, you can hold them in your hand.

Firebreathing involves breathing a fine mist of fuel over an open flame to form a fireball. It's the most stunning fire trick and potentially the most risky since most firebreathing involves using a flammable, toxic fuel. Here are instructions for a safer form of firebreathing, using a non-flammable, non-toxic fuel that you have in your kitchen.

Fire Breathing Video Tutorial
Learn how to breathe fire safely using a non-toxic kitchen ingredient.

Firework Periodic Table
Use this special periodic table to find out what elements are found in fireworks and how they are used. Just click on an element to learn more.

Flame Temperatures
This is a table of flame temperatures for common fuels.

Flame Retardant People
Learn about the health effects of polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE), a common flame retardant, and efforts to ban further use of certain forms of the chemical.

Flame Tests
A flame test is an easy experimental technique used to help identify a metal or ionic salt based on its emission spectrum when it is heated in a gas flame. Here's how to perfom a flame test and interpret the results of the test.

What Is the Difference Between Flammable and Inflammable?
Flammable and inflammable are two words that are commonly confusing. Learn what flammable and inflammable mean and whether they are synonyms or antonyms.

History of Fireworks
Fireworks are a traditional part of most Independence Day and New Year's celebrations. Learn about the invention of fireworks and the history behind how fireworks are used.

History of Matches
Fire may have been around since the dawn of civilization, but matches are a fairly recent invention. Learn about the somewhat gruesome history of the chemical or friction match and how antimony and phosphorus are used to start fire.

How Do Safety Matches Work?
Learn about how safety matches work and why they are considered 'safe'.

How Do Smoke Detectors Work?
Find out how ionization and photoelectric smoke detectors work. Then determine which type is better for your needs. Links are supplied to give you more information about fire safety, tips for installing a smoke detector, and answers to common smoke detector questions.

How Do Sparklers Work?
This type of firework produces a cascade of fiery sparks. Learn about the chemistry behind the sparks or find formulae to make your own!

How Do Trick Birthday Candles Work?
You blow them out, but these candles re-light themselves. Magic? No, it's simple chemistry!

How Fireworks Work
Firecrackers, sparklers, and aerial fireworks are all examples of fireworks. Here's a look at the different types of fireworks and an explanation of how they work.

How To Color Fire
Have you ever wanted to color fire? Here are simple, nontechnical instructions for making your own colored flames. Add extra interest to your fireplace or campfire!

Instant Fire Chemistry Demonstration
Learn how to perform the instant fire chemistry demonstration in which potassium chlorate and sugar are reacted to produce an incredible purple flame and a lot of smoke.

Match Rockets
A match rocket is an extremely simple rocket to construct and launch. The match rocket illustrates many rocketry principles, including basic jet propulsion and Newton's laws of motion. Match rockets fly several meters, in a burst of heat and flame.

Molotov Cocktail
You may have heard about Molotov cocktails on the new or seen them in video games, but do you know what they are? Here's a description of a Molotov cocktail and a little history of the device's invention.

Orange Fire
If ordinary fire just doesn't do it for you, why not kick it up a notch by making it into orange fire? It's easy to make orange flames. Here's what you do.

Qualitative Analysis - Bead Tests
The borax, microcosmic salt, or sodium carbonate bead test may be used to help identify unknown metals. Learn how to perform and interpret the results of this handy analytical test.

Qualitative Analysis - Flame Tests
The flame test is a quick low-tech method of identifying an element by the color of light it yields in a flame. Learn how to perform this test and to interpret the results.

Red Fire Instructions
Red fire is easy to produce. This is a classic color for sparklers and fireworks as well as holiday parties. It would also be a cheery coloration for a campfire or fireplace.

Smoke Bomb Instructions
You can easily make a smoke bomb using inexpensive materials to produce safe smoke.

Smoking Fingers Trick
Make your fingers smoke when you rub them together and glow in the dark. All you need is a matchbox and a way to burn the striker portion.

Sparkler Instructions
Learn how to make your own sparklers, for Independence Day or New Years Day fun. Use your understanding of chemistry to color the sparks.

Ultimate Colored Smoke Bomb
Make a smoke bomb that billows clouds of brightly colored smoke. This project is easy and safe enough to at home. Adult supervision is required.

Violet Fire
It's very simple to make violet or purple fire. All you need are two easy-to-find ingredients.

Yellow Fire
Most flames from candles or wood burning fire are yellow, but you can color a blue flame so that it will become yellow. Here's what you do.

You Might Be a Pyro If...
Pyromaniacs or pyros are people who have a fascination with fire, which usually involves playing with fire or setting fires. Are you a pyro? How would you know? Well, here are some ways you might be able to tell. You might be a pyro if...

Fire in Space
See how differently fire in the microgravity environment of space looks compared with fire on Earth.

Smoke Chemistry
This is a look at the chemical composition of wood smoke, according to EPA data on wood combustion.

Are You a Pyro? - Quiz
Are you a pyro? Take the quiz and find out whether you are a pyromaniac or just really like fire!

How the Olympic Torch Works
Quite a lot of technology goes into the flame for the Olympic Torch. Here's a look at how the Olympic Torch works and the fuel used to produce the flame.

What Is the Most Flammable Chemical?
If something is flammable, that means it is capable of catching on fire. Have you ever wondered what material burns the best? Here's a look at the most flammable chemical.

Is Spontaneous Human Combustion Possible?
Learn whether science supports the possibility of spontaneous human combustion.

What Chemical Turns Fire Green?
Learn what chemical turns fire green and how you can get green flames easily and safely.

How Fart Lighting Works
Learn how fart lighting works, what some farts are yellow while others are blue, and how to ignite flatus safely.

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