Small Bottle, HUGE Fireball (How Flame Jetting Works)

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Pouring gasoline, alcohol, or other fuel over a flame can cause a ten-foot fireball to shoot out and engulf an unsuspecting victim. This week on Reactions, we’re explaining the science of flame jetting and why it happens.

Also, if you’re a chemistry teacher: the ACS Committee on Chemical Safety issued a safety alert (see link below), which recommends that the Rainbow Demonstration (performed on an open bench using flammable solvents like methanol) be discontinued immediately. This demo presents an unacceptable risk of flash fires and deflagrations that can cause serious injuries to students and teachers. Alternative experiments (see link below) are available that demonstrate the same rainbow colors but don’t use flammable solvents on an open bench.

Safety alert:
Alternate demos:


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Producer: Sean Parsons
Writer: Alison Le/Alexa Billow
Scientific Consultants: Adam St. John P.E., Scott Ayers P.E.

We made this video as the ACS contribution to a collaboration by a number of groups committed to helping prevent flame jetting incidents: US Chemical Safety Board, National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), BEAR, Inc., Sterno Products, LLC, Office of Congressman Mike Thompson, ATF Fire Research Laboratory, Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department, American Burn Association, Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation, Lamplight Farms, Jensen Hughes, Battelle, Health Canada and the Portable Fuel Container Manufacturers Association (PFCMA).


Ever wonder why dogs sniff each others’ butts? Or how Adderall works? Or whether it’s OK to pee in the pool? We’ve got you covered: Reactions a web series about the chemistry that surrounds you every day.

Produced by the American Chemical Society.

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