It all started when I was reading this article about pigments, used in some of the great masterpieces, that we (it alleges) can't replicate any more.
Saint George and the Dragon, about 1450–55, Master of Guillebert de Mets. Tempera colors, gold leaf paint, and ink on parchment, 7 5/8 x 5 1/2 in. (The J. Paul Getty Museum, Ms. 2, fol. 18v, gold ).
Look at that blue!
(I'm a total magpie for blue.)
The author, Victoria Finlay, goes on to describe the process of creating stained glass:
Yet it is this uneven surface, and the impurities that were mixed with the coloring elements—cobalt for blue, manganese for purple, gold for pure red—that make the shimmers that have captivated me for years, going back to that day at Chartres.
And for some reason, this made me think of colored flame.
With the onset of wintry weather, and the holidays fast approaching, we're all starting to think about decking the halls, dishing up our pumpkin pie and figgy pudding, and drawing close to yon olde yule log. And then I had a Really Good Idea.
Add some festivus to your firepit with chemistry!
Disclaimer #1: Chemistry is a field which I know absolutely nothing about, so, um . . . have a recipe!
Disclaimer #2: This involves the proverbial playing with fire. Please don't do anything *ahem* . . . poorly considered. . . with this recipe that could maim, damage, destroy, defame, disintegrate, or cause the mods to yell at me, because all of those things would pretty much definitely end in tears. Specifically, my tears.
With appreciation to BBQ Dragon, from whom I have unabashedly stolen this:
For Colorful Flames
If you want colored flames, you can do the following — but it must be prepared well in advance:
Pick the color(s) you want your flames to be and get the chemical(s) needed to produce the effect. Chemicals can be gotten locally (sometimes from stores that deal with fireplaces) or online, such as from this place http://www.chemistrystore.com/. You only need "technical grade" chemicals, not the (more expensive) "purified grade".
Red: strontium chloride
Carmine: lithium chloride
Orange: calcium chloride (a bleaching powder)
White: magnesium sulphate (Epsom Salts)
Blue: cupric chloride (copper chloride)
Green: copper sulphate (blue vitrol)
Yellow: sodium chloride
Yellowish-Green: sodium borate (borax)
Purple: potassium chloride
Violet: potassium sulphate (chromealum) mixed 3-to-1 with potassium nitrate (saltpeter)
Wear rubber glovers during this procedure. Now, add the chemical(s), singly, to a plastic container of water for each flame color — adding as much as the water will absorb (about a half a pound per gallon of water).
Soak your wood, "logs" made of tightly-rolled newspapers, or some pine cones in the solution(s) overnight (you can also use sawdust to sprinkle onto fire to make briefly burning colored flames. Just stir some liquid glue into the liquid, too, and then add the sawdust. The glue will allow chunks to form).
Take the wood/cones/sawdust out of the liquid, lay out on newspapers, and allow to dry thoroughly (for sawdust, spread out onto sheets and dry). Save the newspapers on which they've dried, and roll them up tightly to form "logs," too, as they can produce pretty colors from the chemicals they've absorbed.
Just throw these things on to your fire for pretty flames (can also be used on indoor fires, but ventilation should be good).
For an alternate version, it looks like LifeHacker beat me to the subject (by several years!) . . .