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Name: Theodore W.
Status: educator
Age: 40s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 2000

Using a 3/4 inch copper tube drill several 1/4 inch holes through the pipe. Now a rubber hose is inserted and the device is thrown into a campfire. The result is brilliant colors in the blue range. There is also some purple and yellow at times. What exactly causes this reaction? What exactly causes the flames to be colored. Please explain this so that a 7th grade student working on a science fair project can understand the answer.

Mr. Wunderle,

I suspect the rubber hose is simply an additional source of fuel and contaminants that make the pipe hot enough to allow the emission spectrum of copper to be produced. The holes in the pipe provide increased surface area on which a chemical reaction can occur. In addition, it provides more places for the reaction to make itself visible.

Copper ions can impart a pretty blue and green color to a flame. If the hose insert was made of plastic, the plastic might contain chlorine. The presence of chlorine e allows the copper to form copper chloride which is a volatile compound that offers a brilliant copper ion spectrum.

The purple and yellow colors are doubtless due to the emission spectrum of other elements -- possibly potassium and sodium.

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