Colored flames in methanol

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In summary, the conversation discusses an experiment to create colored flames by dissolving different salts in methanol. The participants are having trouble with certain salts dissolving and achieving the desired colors. They suggest dissolving the salts in water first before adding methanol and recommend using 75% methanol and 25% salt solution for brighter colors. They also mention that any alcohol that mixes with water can be used.
  • #1
I'm trying to get a variety of colored flames by dissolving salt and methanol (after the fashion of this YouTube video et al.:").

I'm doing halfway alright with strontium chloride solution and boric acid solution, but having some trouble: the boric acid solution burns green for a little while but then turns yellow; the strontium solution is a bit dodgy, giving only intermittent red flames. Both solutions bubble and hiss: the boric acid solution hisses when the flame is yellow; the strontium solution hisses all the way through.

Worse, I'm not having luck with sodium chloride or potassium chloride or cupric chloride.

Regarding NaCl and KCl, I can't really get either to dissolve in methanol. As a consequence, I just get the clear/blue methanol flame, not yellow nor purple. Anyone have any advice?

As for cupric chloride, I get a green flame, not the blue one from the video (starts out looking rather green, seems pretty blue after a little while).
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  • #2
That's because NaCl and KCl don't dissolve in methanol. In fact none of the salts used in that video dissolve in methanol. What he did was that he dissolved them in water first then he added enough methanol so that the solution would ignite and sustain a flame.

Just dissolve the salts in water then add methanol. I'd recommend trying 75% methanol and 25% salt solution. If the colors aren't bright enough increase the ratio of the salt solution to methanol. You just need enough methanol to ignite the solution. It doesn't have to be methanol by the way; it can be isopropyl alcohol or ethanol. Any alcohol that mixes with water will suffice.
  • #3
Good to know. I'm trying what you suggested. Hit or miss so far.

What is the cause of the different colored flames in methanol?

The different colors in methanol flames are caused by the presence of different metal salts. When these salts are heated, they emit light at specific wavelengths, which produce different colors.

Is methanol the only solvent that can produce colored flames?

No, other solvents such as ethanol and isopropyl alcohol can also produce colored flames with the addition of metal salts. However, methanol is commonly used because it burns cleanly and produces bright, vibrant colors.

Is it safe to experiment with colored flames in methanol at home?

No, it is not safe to experiment with colored flames in methanol at home. Methanol is highly flammable and can be dangerous if mishandled. It is best to conduct these experiments in a controlled laboratory setting with proper safety precautions in place.

How can I create colored flames in methanol?

To create colored flames in methanol, you will need to add small amounts of metal salts to the methanol. For example, copper chloride will produce a green flame, while lithium chloride will produce a red flame. The exact amount of each salt will vary depending on the desired color and intensity of the flame.

What are some examples of metal salts that can be used to produce colored flames in methanol?

Some common metal salts used to produce colored flames in methanol include copper chloride (green), lithium chloride (red), strontium chloride (pink), and potassium chloride (violet). However, there are many more metal salts that can be used to create a variety of colors in methanol flames.

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