Whoosh brothers

The whoosh bottle demonstration involves setting light to methanol vapour in a thick walled 20L water bottle. By adding a few drops of water into the methanol, salts such as LiCl, NaCl and KCl can be incorporated into the ignition mixture and add colour to the resulting flame.

Here are some images of the same.

First three pictures of the experiments:


Lithium whoosh – the bottle on the right did not ignite.


Sodium whoosh – only the middle one


Potassium whoosh

Next are three animated gifs of the experiments:


What colour do you see in the flame in the bottle? Is it the characteristic flame colour from Li, Na or K?


Tried for a triple whoosh, but only the middle one worked. Was it Li, Na or K?


Better colours with the lights out? It’s usually difficult to see the colour of the flame with this shy violet. Li, Na or K?

The whoosh brothers! A composite gif animation of all the above.


Whoosh brothers!

Try as I might I could not get more than one bottle to ignite at a time. Movies uploaded to You Tube soon.



Follow appropriate safety guidelines when igniting the bottles. Methanol vapour is toxic. Only use thick walled plastic bottles. Do not try more than one ignition per bottle. Wash each bottle by filling completely with cold water after each ‘burn’. Our laboratory was ventilated with the all the windows open after the each experiment for more than an hour.


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