*WINNER* Creating Color Flame Candles as an Alternative to the Rainbow Flame Test


  • Shawna Grey Coulter


The rainbow flame test is a visually appealing chemical demonstration that showcases atomic emission spectra, but it can be very dangerous and has caused injuries due to accidents. Recently updates have been made to increase the safety of the demonstration, but it can still prove to be inaccessible to groups without access to proper safety training, certain scientific equipment, and supplies. The purpose of this research is to create easy to make candles that produce colored flames which can be used over long periods of time in a safe manner in classroom and educational settings. Cotton and wood candle wicks are soaked in salt solutions containing different metal cations that are known to produce colored flames and then sealed with wax prior to making the candles. Some wicks are sealed with wax and others are not to determine the effectiveness of sealing the salts into the wicks prior to making the candles. A portion of the sealed candles are coated with a wax containing the salt to allow the salts to soak into the wick as they burn. Other wicks are prepared by spraying the solution on the wicks and allowing them to dry between applications to build up the amount of the salt on the wicks. If successful, this work would allow a new way for the rainbow flame test to be conducted in a safe and accessible manner for a variety of audiences in scientific and non-scientific settings.