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Video:Make Pinecones Burn With Colored Fire

with Dr. Anne Helmenstine

You don't need magic to make pinecones burn with a colored flame. See how to burn the pinecones by themselves, or add them to a wood-burning fireplace or a campfire.See Transcript

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Transcript:Make Pinecones Burn With Colored Fire

Hi, I'm Dr. Anne Helmenstine for About.com. I'm going to show you how to make pinecones burn with colored flame. You can burn the pinecones by themselves or can add them to a wood-burning fireplace or a campfire.

Boric Acid and Colored Fire

You have several options for chemicals to color your pinecones and methods of adding the colorant to the pinecones, but the simplest thing to do is to sprinkle boric acid onto a pinecone and then burn it. Boric acid is a non-toxic powder used as a disinfectant that can be found in most pharmacies. Boric acid and other boron compounds burn with a bright green flame. Since fire typically burns in colors of yellow, orange, and blue, you can get very colorful flames simply by adding this one chemical.

Ignite the Pinecone

Prepare your pinecone by dusting it with boric acid. If you aren't adding the treated pinecone to a fire that is already burning, you can pour a small amount of fuel onto the pinecone to make it easier to light. I used Heet fuel treatment, which is pure methanol. This is a good fuel because it does not produce a flame that would drown out the colors you are trying to make.

Colored Fire Safety

Boric acid is not toxic and a small amount of it will not harm animals or plants, but it's not a human food and should not be used for making campfires used for cooking. Unless you go totally crazy, it's fine to use the ashes from the colored fire on your garden.

There are several other colorants you can use for your pinecones, but it's a good idea to use one chemical at a time so the colors don't cancel each other out. You can find a full list of fire colorants if you visit me on the web at About.com. I hope you've enjoyed this easy colored fire project. Thanks for watching!
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