You can set fire to the rain! This special effect relies on a bit of chemistry to produce a spectacular result.
- Alcohol-based hand sanitizer or gel candle fuel
- Aluminum foil
- Long-handled lighter
- Metal pan or sheet
There are two keys to success with this project. First, you need fuel to serve as your rain. Theoretically, you could make a fiery rain of gasoline, but that would be dangerous and water-free, so it doesn't exactly qualify as rain. So, what we used was hand sanitizer, which consists of a mixture of water and ethanol. We like this fuel because it is a gel, so it is easy to control its flow as rain. The alcohol burns blue, which is a nice effect. Finally, when the alcohol burns away you really are left with water or rain.
The other key to success is to make your fuel fall like rain. A metal screen or mesh might make the rain 'glob' down all at once. Making an accordion shape out of metal (aluminum foil) worked best. This allowed the rain to fall in channels.
Set Fire to the Rain
- Tear off a sheet of aluminum foil, fold it in half and then fold it accordion-wise until you have a few inches of metal. Your rain will flow from these channels.
- You want the rain to fall, so set the foil on a raised surface that you have protected from fire. As an example, you could stack some books, place a metal pan on top of the books and set the foil overhanging the pan.
- Place a metal or glass pan below the foil so that the fiery rain will drop into a fire-safe container.
- Bend the foil slightly downward so that rain will fall in the direction you want. Otherwise, prop up the back end of the foil.
- Test your set-up! We dripped some hand sanitizer onto the foil and watched the way it would fall. Bend the foil to get the effect you like. Adjust the height of the rain effect.
- When you are ready to set fire to the rain, drip hand sanitizer onto the foil and ignite it. Turn out the lights!
- You can add more fuel to sustain the effect. When you are ready to quit, simply blow out the fire. The good thing about hand sanitizer is that it is alcohol and water, so it burns with a relatively cool flame and it becomes watery as the fuel is expended. This makes it less likely to get out of control and much simpler to extinguish.
This project involves fire, so it should only be attempted by responsible adults. Although the flame produced by this fuel is relatively cool and easy to put out, it is still possible for the fire to spread. Conduct this project on a fire-safe surface. As always, be prepared to put out the fire.