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In this chemistry lab activity, learners model the colors of fireworks by burning metallic solutions in a flame and observing the different colors produced. The color is determined by the combustion of a metallic compound, and different solutions produce different colors. Flame tests can also be used to determine the composition of materials. This activity is currently used in the Industrial Chemistry Unit in OMSI's Chemistry Lab but can done in any chemistry lab. Cost estimate does not include lab equipment. For safety reasons, this activity should be conducted as a demonstration for younger audiences.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Learning Time:
Under 5 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 14 - adult

Resource Types:
Activity, Demonstration, Experiment/Lab Activity


Materials List (per group of students)

  • 10g lithum chloride (LiCl)
  • 25g strontium chloride hexahydrate (SrCl2•6H2O)
  • 25g potassium chloride dihydrate (KCl•2H2O)
  • 25g barium chloride dihydrate (BaCl2•2H2O)
  • 50g sodium chloride (NaCl) table salt
  • 25g copper chloride dihydrate(CuCl2•2H2O)
  • (optional) for mystery solution, use 6 of following three items instead of 5
  • (5) small glass dropper bottles with screw caps
  • (5) one-hole stoppers
  • (5) test tubes
  • tray for dropper bottles
  • nichrome wire
  • wire cutters
  • pliers
  • test tube rack
  • 100mL glass beaker
  • black paper
  • bunsen burner attached by rubber tubing to gas source
  • protective Plexiglas shield
  • vertical Plexiglas display stand (8.5in wide and 11in high)
  • handheld spark generator


  • Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
    • Vibration and Waves
      • Light and Optics
    • Light and Optics
      • Sunlight and Color
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Atomic Structure


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Access Rights:

  • Free access



Funding Source:

  • National Science Foundation, 9355628