Fabulous Fun Facts: How to Turn Fire Different Colors

Madison Company lives and breathes sensors, so of course we get a kick out of fun facts about sensor applications as well. See if you can guess where a sensor is used after you read this Fantastic Fun Fact! (Pssst…. You’ll find the answer in parentheses below!)

It’s summer – time for camping and bonfires. Have you ever wondered how to turn those leaping flames different colors?

IMPORTANT NOTE: Do this only after all cooking has been done on the fire and when there is little wind so that the smoke can rise up rather than blow into campers’ faces.

  1. Melt old candle wax in a double boiler.
  2. Get a bunch of small paper Dixie cups.
  3. Pour about 1/4 inch of chemical into each cup (see below for some common color options).
  4. Pour just enough melted wax into the cup to cover the chemical, and quickly stir it with an unfolded paperclip or other small stir rod. This is to thoroughly coat all of the chemical.
  5. Allow the mixture to thoroughly cool and then peel or cut off the sides of the paper cup. We leave the paper bottom on.
  6. Toss one of these patties into the hottest part of the fire. It will melt, and the show begins!

Mixing different chemicals will not make a new color. Just add one single type at a time, or place different kinds in different places within the fire.

Chemical Flame Change

Potassium Chloride (water softener salt)

PURPLE flame

Copper Chloride

BLUE flame

Borax (laundry)


Copper Sulfate (tree root killer for plumbers)

GREEN flame


GREEN flame

Strontium Chloride

RED flame

Lithium Chloride

RED flame

Calcium Chloride

ORANGE flame

Sodium Chloride (table salt)

YELLOW flame

Magnesium Sulfate (Epsom salts)

WHITE flame


Sprinkle into fire for tiny sparks

Powdered Coffee Creamer

Throw a handful into the flames above the fire for small sparkly flashes


Toss a small amount into the flames to make a flash flame

Iron Filings

Toss a small bit into the flames to make gold sparks

Powdered Aluminum

Toss a small bit into the flames to make silver sparks

Magnesium Shavings

Toss a small bit into the flames to make very bright silver sparks

* Thanks to WikiHow and The Campfire Dude for this enlightening info!

(So where is the sensor? Ok, so the chemicals are solids. But if you are camping in a trailer or self-contained vehicle, liquid level sensors are used in those RVs – especially in the holding tanks!)