Education Science
Fire Without Matches: Twenty-Three Spontaneously-Igniting Reactions

Really wonderful community video collaboration from the chem-hackers of, including MAKE pal and guest blogger Hayden Parker. Over about fourteen minutes, we are treated to a bench-side view of two dozen energetic reactions that share an interesting property: reagents that, on mixing, spontaneously burst into flame.

My favorite of the lot is the beautiful, er, “purple haze” produced by the reaction of finely divided aluminum and iodine, which starts at 5:50. A close second is the unusual solid-phase reaction between vitamin c and sodium chlorite—two dry powders that spontaneously burn when stirred or shaken together—which starts at 5:00.

34 thoughts on “Fire Without Matches: Twenty-Three Spontaneously-Igniting Reactions

  1. Yesterday we saw how to print weapons parts, today improvised field expedient incendiaries, tomorrow…? This is as good as the training at Camp Peary!

  2. That was excellent. Give those guys a …”webby”(?)!

    Only one tiny wish:  along with the text on each subsection intro include a (rough) chemical reaction formula.  if for no other reason to remind those of us that took CHEM 256 six thousand years ago how many oxygens on Periodic acid.

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I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

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