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Citrus Flames Project

Make a Mini-Flamethrower with Citrus Oil


Squeeze citrus oil onto a flame for a bright flash of fire.

Squeeze citrus oil onto a flame for a bright flash of fire.

Anne Helmenstine
Are you looking for a way to play with your food and play with fire at the same time? This project is the perfect solution, plus it's very, very easy!

Citrus Fire Materials

  • citrus fruit (orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit, tangerine... you get the idea)
  • flame, as from a candle

Make Citrus Fire!

  1. Peel off a strip of citrus fruit.

  2. Snap the peel between your fingers, peel side toward the flame. You want to squirt a tiny amount of oil from the peel or rind toward the flame. I've uploaded a YouTube video so you can see what to expect.

How Citrus Fire Works

The oil from citrus fruits is volatile and flammable. When you squeeze the oil out of the fruit peel it vaporizes enough that you can flash your flame. It is primarily the D-limonene in the citrus oil that vaporizes and ignites. The flash point of limonene is 50°C. Limonene is used as an orange flavoring, a cleaner, and may have use as a biofuel.

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