Making Coloured Flames For Your Christmas Fireplace Making Coloured Flames For Your Christmas Fireplace

A blazing log fire has always been part and parcel of the Christmas festival for those of lucky enough to have an open fire or stove. Ocean driftwood will burn with a blue flame whilst seasoned apple wood will not only give a scented festive aroma to your home but will burn with all the colours of the rainbow. However, in my neck of the woods in the Midlands you may be lucky enough to come across a stash of apple wood but as for driftwood without embarking on a long drive there is little chance.

Coloured Flames You can still add lively Christmas festive flames of red, blues and greens, purples and oranges to the   usual yellow flames of your log fire. All you need is a little powered boric acid to give a bright green flame, copper sulphate a green flame, copper chloride- blue, strontium chloride-red, lithium chloride –crimson, potassium chloride-purple, calcium chloride-orange, household baking soda-yellowy orange and ordinary table salt – yellow. All of these chemicals if handled with a little care are harmless and easily obtainable from your local chemist or one of the chemical suppliers found in yellow pages or the internet. We all know even common table salt can if rubbed in the eyes, or an open cut, will sting so keep out of the reach of small children and pets.  Store in plastic or glass containers in a dry well ventilated place.  Steer clear of nitrates and chlorates opt for sulphates and chlorides and all will be well!

Fireplace coloured flames

There are a number of ways of producing the desired effect. You can sprinkle the chemicals directly on to a hot fire. Although the easiest method a pinch of one of the chemicals will produce a short burst of coloured flame it does necessarily produce the best effect. You can opt for mixing the chemicals into hot wax before pouring into a mould such as a paper cup. When cooled place the small tablets onto the hot fire as it melts it will release its magically mesmerising coloured flames. Do not melt the paraffin wax over a naked flame but in a bain-marie a container within a container sitting in boiling water. I wouldn’t advise using the best pots and pans as the chemicals will stain. An old bake bean tin will do standing in a saucepan of boiling water.  The amount of chemical used is not important the more chemical the more colour.

By far the best method is to dilute the chemicals, one pound of chemical to gallon of water. From experience it is better to go with one chemical per batch but feel free to experiment. Mix the chemical outside in a glass or plastic container wearing rubber gloves as they will stain and over time attack metal.  Once the solution is mixed submerge in a muslin bag or old pair of tights, fircones, small pieces or chips of soft wood-for better absorbency than hard woods- or charcoal for a day or so.  To keep you chosen fuel submerged try placing a brick on top of the bag.  After a day, or two lift   the bag out of the vat draining the impregnated fuel over the container.  Further dry the fuel , if placed on newspaper  save it and scrunch it up into tight balls to burn in the fireplace to produce beautifully coloured flames.

There is nothing quite like watching the multi coloured flames wax and wane as  they  lick round your burning logs  changing colours, creating intricate multi-hued patterns not dissimilar to a miniature display of the northern lights in your very own Christmas hearth.  


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