If you’re one of those people whose attempts at fancy pumpkin carving result in Pinterest fails of epic proportion, we’ve got a surefire (see what I did there) way to endure your Jack-O-Lantern is the most badass on the block.
Amazingly, Game of Thrones-style green fire is actually easy to make! All you’ll need for this bit pumpkin wizardry is medical-grade boric acid (found at your local pharmacy), some antifreeze, a metal container, and a lighter. If those ingredients sound dangerous, that’s because they are. Before trying this Halloween hack, you’ll need help from a fume hood, gloves and goggles, as well as the other requisite protective gear. Above all, be careful.
It’s important to note that boric acid is not the same thing as borax (that’s sodium borate, a different chemical compound). You’ll be looking for a white, chalky powder, typically marketed as a disinfectant. If you don’t want to go for the spendy stuff, most pest killers also contain the acid, but please, for the love of all that is holy, by a liquid and not an aerosol spray, (because, burn unit).
Once you’ve gathered your ingredients, the experiment is simple:
Step 1: Pour the antifreeze into a bowl that’s small enough to slide into your pumpkin. Antifreeze contains methanol, so the more you dump in, the longer your fire will burn.
Step 2. Sprinkle in some boric acid (we recommend 1-2 teaspoons per half cup of antifreeze).
Step 3: Light that ish on fire.
As you sit back and marvel your creation, you might find yourself wondering, “why green?” While it seems intuitive that the green antifreeze would cause the otherworldly hue, it’s actually the boric acid! This all has to do with what’s called the “ion emission spectra.” You see, atoms, the building blocks of elements, are made of positively charged nuclei. Around the nucleus of an atom sit whirling orbitals of negatively-charged electrons. When you throw an element into a flame, you’re adding an immense amount of energy, which excites these electrons and causes them to push inward. Just like you do, atoms prefer to be relaxed – so eventually, these electrons settle back into their orbitals. To do this, they must release that absorbed energy, in the form of light.
The color of light you see depends on the amount of energy released, so no two elements will burn the same shade. Just think about sodium street lamps, which emit a bright yellow. If you light table salt on fire, you’re going to see a similar color.
What this also means, is that it’s entirely possible to create Hades hair. Halloween goals: on point.