Dish soaps generally contain a mixture of chemicals such as detergents, fragrances, colorings, glycols, and alcohols. Indeed, if you look on the internet, you can quickly confirm that many of these ingredients are categorized as hazardous or irritant. However, the hazard classification of each chemical is based on the toxicity of the pure material, it does not take into account the effects of dilution.
Often people assume dish soap is inflammable and avoid using it in ovens to clean. The truth is that it is nonflammable but it may evolve toxic gases if strongly heated. Dish soap is also used to hold fire on hands. It can burst into flame, and, fortunately, there would be plenty of water around to extinguish the blaze if it did.
Is Dish Soap Flammable?
No, dish soap is not inflammable by itself. It will melt if it gets hot enough, but it will not easily catch fire, as the flashpoint of most dish soap is around 1000 degrees Fahrenheit. Dish soap is also used for lighting your own hands-on fire-making for both a fascinating demonstration of scientific principles and a neat party trick.
How To Hold Fire by using flammable gas and dish soap
The basic idea is to create a protective chemical layer on the outside of your skin that protects your hands while another flammable substance burns out.
Gather Your Supplies
Gather all the material that you need to create a fireball using dish soap and flammable gas. For this trick you will need:
- Open container
- Dish soap
- Flammable gas (butane or methane)
- Rubber hose (to direct the flow of gas into the soap solution).
Note: purchase butane in small bottles with built-in nozzles and flammable gases in canisters.
Precaution: This trick has fire. It could burn you or the people around you. It could cause things around you to start on fire. Wetting your hand will keep your hand from burning for a very short amount of time but only if you have a manageable amount of bubbles, too many bubbles will likely burn you. You should try this under the supervision of an expert or knowledgeable adult.
Combine dish soap and water
- First, combine the dish soap and water in a large container. Fill your container about ¾ with cold water. Add dish soap and keep stirring until the dish soap is dissolved in the water.
- Don’t add a lot of dish soap into the water; add enough quantity to create a mild solution. The soap and water will form a protective layer on your skin to keep you from getting burned.
- You can use any dish soap for this trick. Make sure to stay away from hand soaps and liquid laundry detergents. The lipids in the dish soap will naturally separate from the gas bubbles, keeping them away from your skin.
Add flammable gas to the dish soap solution
- After combining dish soap and water, start infusing the gas into the soap solution. Simply place the nozzle below the surface of the water and give it a few squeezes if you’re using a commercial butane canister.
- If you’re using a large methane tank or gas valve, release the gas slowly into the soap solution until it begins to bubble. Gases like butane and methane are lighter than air, so the bubbles will continue to rise and grow larger the more gas you add.
- Be careful, only use a little at a time, bubbles themselves will be extremely flammable. Methane bubbles are light enough to stack up on top of one another interminably until the gas supply is shut off.
Coat Your Hands
- Soak your hand in the water then scoop some bubbles. Coat your entire hand to make sure the solution sticks to your skin. Most of the gas will be trapped in the bubbles, so scoop up a handful for a bigger flame that burns longer.
- Whatever gas bubbles come into contact with your hands will burn out before they reach your skin through the soap solution.
Light your hands
- Use the lighter to ignite the bubbles in your hand, making sure that you are far away from your bowl of gas bubbles.
- If your bowl accidentally catches on fire, make sure that you keep a safe distance and let it burn out. Do not go near the bowl if it has caught on fire.
- Once the fire has burned for a few seconds, shake your hand off to remove the burning gas bubbles from your hand.
- Both butane and methane are extremely flammable, so watch out! The fire will burn intensely for a few seconds, but there’s no need to worry. The soapy water solution will act as a barrier between the flame and your skin.
- The bubbles and fumes from the gas will continue rising even after they’ve touched your skin. This means that they’ll catch fire as they’re moving away from you, making the experiment safe
- Look out for drips and drifting bubbles. These can be ignited on their own
- As mentioned earlier, remember to be safe and only try this under the supervision of a professional
Is it safe to hold fire bubbles in your hand?
Yes, it is totally safe to hold fire bubbles in your hand if done properly. Make sure to wear a safety apron and goggles to avoid any incident. the heat and flames rise from the point of ignition so hold the bubbles above eye level.
Before doing the demonstration be sure to get your hand very wet. Water has a high specific heat which means it takes a lot of energy to heat up water. The water on your hand will absorb much of the energy (heat) from the flame as it turns from liquid water to water vapor (gas). But, even with all the safety precautions, this demonstration is potentially very dangerous.
Dish soap is not flammable. It can catch fire, but it has a high flash point and tends to resist burning in favor of melting thanks to the chemical structure of the molecules within it.