Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Flame Colors
Name: Theodore W.
Status: educator
Age: 40s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 2000


Question:
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.


Replies:
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.

Go here for additional information:

http://www.newton.dep.anl.gov/askasci/chem00/chem00173.htm

Regards,
ProfHoff



Click here to return to the Chemistry Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (help@newton.dep.anl.gov), or at Argonne's Educational Programs

NEWTON AND ASK A SCIENTIST
Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory