While you might first think of the reds and yellows in a campfire, a flame can encompass many colors of the rainbow.
A flame’s color depends on two things: the temperature of the flame and the material being burned. The main color in the flame changes with the temperature. Something is “red hot” from 977 degrees Fahrenheit to 1,830 degrees. Orange flames burn at 2,010 to 2,190 degrees. The hottest flame, white, burns at an incredible 2,370 to 2,730 degrees.
The orange in a campfire comes not only from the temperature, but from the sodium in the firewood. You might see blue streaks from carbon and hydrogen in the wood. When gas burns on your kitchen stove, it creates a blue flame. In the chemistry lab, you can see green or blue flames from copper and red from lithium.
Or just look to the summer sky to see chemicals creating different colors during a fireworks show.
The colors of stars also indicate their temperature. The closest star to Earth, the sun, has a surface temperature of 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
From the September/October 2013 issue of Iowa Outdoors magazine