|What to Burn
Soak your wicks in liquids which are flammable but not explosive. DO NOT use petrol!
For more information on various fuels and their names in different countries, check: International Fuel Names. (Thanks Vance!)
Non-explosive chemicals can be dissolved into certain flammable liquids to change the colour of the flames. Specifically, you need to use a solvent which is based on alcohol, methylated spirits (meths) or pure ethanol to allow the compound to dissolve (with thanks to Xaeda for clarification here). Methylated spirits and ethanol can be bought in a good quality pharmacy, though probably not in your average high street pharmacy. Meths is sold as camping stove fuel, whilst ethanol is, I'm led to believe, sold as an anti-freeze agent. Paraffin, lamp-oil, white gas and other petroleum-based compounds will not allow the chemicals to dissolve. Some ideas are listed below.
Be warned that all of these fuels and chemicals have certain levels of toxicity and long-term use and/or ingestion should be avoided. Reading the Materials Safety Data Sheets for these substances is recommended - the vast majority can be found at the MSDS Database at Cornell University. Use at your own risk!
By general concensus, the best chemicals are:
Recommended amounts vary from person to person, but a rough guide is to keep adding the powdered chemical to the fuel until no more dissolves after a gentle shake. Generally, this should be somewhere in the region of about two tablespoons of powdered chemical to a litre of fuel, though don't be worried if you're using more.
If you're having trouble getting the flames to colour sufficiently, here's a couple of ideas. The first is to make sure that your wicks are 'cleaned' of oil-based fuels. One way to do this is to use only meths for a couple of burns, so the old fuel is burned away.
Secondly, whilst making a set of towel wicks recently, I 'seeded' the towel material with the boric acid powder before folding and wiring the material up into wicks. This guarantees that there is plenty of colour-inducing chemical within the wicks to add to that which is dissolved in the fuel.
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