Money-Making Formulas Of Chemical Magic.
FIRE EFFECTS AND ILLUSIONS
SATAN’S BUBBLES: Fill a clay pipe with cotton, keeping the
latter in place by inserting a wire screen over the mouth of the
bowl. Saturate the cotton with gasoline, then dip the pipe in
strong soap suds that contain a small amount of glycerine. Blow
easily into the stem as you hold the bowl down just as in
blowing regular bubbles. Sail the bubbles int o the air and
when touched off with a lighted match will explode with a flash.
EXPLODING BUBBLES: A variation of the above can be made by
soaking a piece of cotton in gasoline and placing in the mouth
before blowing the bubbles. While this method works as a trick,
it is not recommended for practical use. Untreated gasoline
should be used – do not use gasoline sold in filling stations as
this contains lead.
NO-BURN FIRE: Mix six parts of alcohol and two parts of water.
Soak your handkerchief in this solution and place on the end of
a stick. Light the saturated cloth and it will seem to burn
without damaging the cloth.
BLUE STARS: A formula for making blue stars is as follows:
Potassium Chlorate 8 ounces; Copper Sulphide 2 ounces; Copper
Oxide 1 ounce; Sulphur 4 ounces; Mercurous Chloride 2 ounces;
Charcoal 1 ounce. Mix together intimately.
SILVER FIRE: Silver Nitrate when sprinkled on hot coals is
another method of producing silver stars and also the burned
coal will be coated with silver.
A DEMONSTRATION OF SPONTANEOUS COMBUSTION: Mix potassium
perchlorate with granulated sugar and when touched with a drop
of Sulphuric Acid, it will ignite.
LIVING FIRE: To one end of a glass tube about fifteen inches
long, affix and ordinary gas tip. Soak a piece of sponge
(small) in gasoline (untreated gasoline). Place in the mouth.
Then blow slowly and steadily through the end of the glass tube.
Light the tip and it will burn as long as the breath is
FAIRY CANDLES: Have a couple of candles on a table. In the
wick of each candle place a small piece of sodium metal about
half the size of a pea. By touching the wick with a drop of
water, the wicks will ignite for a mysterious effect.
RED FIRE: Strontium Nitrate 4 ounces; Potassium Chlorate 12
ounces; Mercurous Chloride 4 ounces; Sulphur 3 ounces; Powdered
Shellac 1 ounce; Powdered Charcoal 1 ounce.
GREEN FIRE: Barium Nitrate 12 ounces; Potassium Chlorate 6
ounces; Sulphur 3 ounces; Powdered Shellac 1 ounce; Mercurous
Chloride 2 ounces; Powdered Charcoal 1 ounce.
YELLOW FIRE: Potassium Chlorate 6 ounces; Sodium Oxalate 2
ounces; Sulphur 2 ounces; Powdered Shellac 1 ounce.
PURPLE VAPOR: If a few flakes are dropped into a hot flask or
jar, the container becomes filled with a mysterious purple vapor.
PHAROAH’S SERPENTS: This is an old and popular seller of the
fireworks companies – a small cone when ignited seems to expel a
long serpent-like ash from it. These are nothing more than
small masses of mercuric sulphocyanide formed into the shape of
cones and which are always lit at the point.
Another formula for making these serpents is Potassium
Bichromate 2 ounces; Potassium Nitrate 1 ounce and Powdered
Sugar 1 ounce. Mix thoroughly and press into small paper cones
of the desired size. Remember to always light these cones at
the tip or point of cone.
BURNING AFGHAN BANDS: These bands are usually among the
materials of the magician. They are usually made either of
paper or cloth. These strips or bands are soaked in a strong
solution of alum, after which they are thoroughly dried. Then
they are stretched on a flat surface and painted with a strong
solution of Potassium Nitrate. Allow it to dry, and when a
match is applied to any part of the band it will burn but will
not consume the material itself.
FIRE FLASH: Place a small candle in the bottom of a deep vessel
such as a deep jardinere on the stage. Have the candle lighted
and the container well away from any inflammable drapes,
curtains, etc. When making his entrance the performer tosses a
pinch of powdered magnesium metal into the container with a
result that a flash of white fire emerges. Keep well away from
the container when performing this feat.
CLIMBING FLAME: Soak a length of white cotton cord or string in
a strong solution of potassium. Suspend from a support in a
dark room and light with a match and an attractive sputtering
flame will result.
IMPROVED BURNING CORD: First soak a length of cord in a
solution of Sodium Chloride (table salt) and let it dry
thoroughly. Then, soak it for a few seconds only in a strong
solution of Potassium Nitrate and let dry. This last solution
makes the string burn faster, the salt solution holding it
together. Small objects may be suspended which, after the
string is burned, will still remain in their suspended position.
THE FAST SMOKER: Roll a cigarette with tobacco that has been
soaked in Potassium Nitrate and dried. When one lights the
cigarette, it will be consumed by the fire to the amazement of
the smoker. A novelty similar to those on the market.
HOLLYWOOD FAIRY FUEL BLAZE: The formula for a product on the
market sold under the name of Hollywood Blaze, also Fairy Fuel.
Mix equal parts of the following materials together: Barium
Chloride, Strontium Nitrate, Calcium Chloride, Sodium Chloride
and Potassium Nitrate. When sprinkled on an open fire or hot
coals, it produces flames of various colors for some time.
NEPTUNE’S FIRE: A spectacular and interesting trick. Mix
potassium nitrate 5 ounces; powdered charcoal 1 ounce; Sulphur 2
ounces and Strontium Nitrate 1 ounce. All must be in powdered
form and mixed thoroughly. Insert some of this mixture into a
strong paper tube about two inches long, well closed at one end
and varnished or coated with shellac so as to make it
waterproof. Set fire to the open end of the cartridge or tube
and place it under water with this end downward. It will
continue to burn until all of the ingredients are consumed. The
best effect obtained will be when the tube is burned in a heavy
FIRE-EATING: The following tricks are dangerous and should not
be attempted by the novice in this work because even with the
fundamental knowledge, some experience is required to avoid
injury. As we have received requests for this, it is offered
only as information and not with any recommendation for putting
it to actual use. We give two such tricks below:
CHINESE FIRE-EATING: For this a piece of soft cotton cord is
used similar to clothes-line material. This is soaked for about
twelve hours in a very strong solution of potassium nitrate.
Remove from the solution and dry thoroughly, then cut into one
inch lengths. Light one of these pieces and place it in a ball
of hemp or two, being sure that the hemp fully covers the
smoking cord. Place in the mouth and when blowing outward,
volumes of smoke are blown from the mouth. Never inhale through
the mouth as the smoke will be drawn into the lungs with
THE CANDLE DIET: This is a special candle, unlike those made
from stearin or wax, as you cut this candle from a large apple
or turnip. A piece of almond is stuck into the end to simulate
the wick. A tip of the almond can be lighted and will burn for
a few seconds. When lit, the candle is put into the mouth an
devoured to the amazement of the audience.
FIREPROOFING: Materials soaked in alum or sodium hyposulphate
(hypo) will not burn. Consequently a very effective trick can
be performed by soaking a handkerchief in hypo and after drying
thoroughly, holding it in a flame. It will not burn.
DEVIL’S FIRE: Dissolve one part white phosphorus in six parts
of carbon bisulphide and keep in a tightly covered wide-mouth
bottle. Keep closed tightly to prevent evaporation. To perform
the trick gently dip a small piece of paper in the solution and
replace the stopper. Hold the paper away from the face and blow
upon it. This hastens evaporation of the carbon bisulphide and
when completely evaporated the paper catches fire.
WOOD FIRE: Mix together equal parts of potassium chloride and
granulated sugar. Place a little of this mixture on the wick of
a lamp, then put a drop of sulphuric acid on the end of a stick
of wood. By touching the powder on this wick with the prepared
end of the stick, the wick will ignite.
RAISIN FIRE: Place several raisins in a dish and pour over them
a tablespoonful of pure grain alcohol. Light the alcohol and
when it is afire, pick up the raisins one by one with a fork,
place each in the mouth separately, chew and swallow. The
slight flame of the alcohol is easily extinguished by simply
expelling the breath at the time the raisin is placed therein.
BANANA BURNER: A banana may be dipped in burning grain alcohol
and eaten without ill effect, the fire being extinguished just
as the banana is placed in the mouth along with the raisins.
Always expel the breath as the banana reaches the mouth
Many people are interested in tricks and novelties and several
concerns have developed a large business in this field.
You can put up various of these different fire effects and
illusions and do a good business. However, care should be
exercised at all times in handling and working with these
SOURCES OF SUPPLY: In small lots most of the chemicals can be
had from wholesale drug houses. In larger quantities you should
use the technical grades which may be had from most general
chemical dealers such as:
J.T. Baker Chemical Co., Phillipsburg, New Jersey
Mallinckrodt Chemical Co., St. Louis, Missouri
Merck & Co., Rahway, New Jersey
McKesson & Robbins, 155 E. 44th St., New York City
Hummel Chemical Co., 90 West St., New York City
Belmonth Smelting Co., (for powdered metals and filings) 330
Belmont Ave., Brooklyn, NY
S.B. Penick & Co., 50 Church St., New York City
ALCOHOL from U.S. Industrial Chemicals, 120 Broadway, NY, NY
These are made by coating or impregnating coarse sawdust, cork
waster and other suitable material with various metallic slats.
Pine cones may be coated with the salts as explained below.
The salts mentioned below produce the colors stated:
SODIUM SALTS: Yellow flames. Sodium Chloride (ordinary table
salt) is well adapted for this.
COPPER SALTS: Green flames. Use Copper Sulphate (Blue Vitrol).
BARON SALTS: Yellowish-Green flames. Use ordinary Borax.
STRONTIUM SALTS: Red flames. Use Strontium Chloride.
POTASSIUM SALTS: Violet flames. Use 3 parts Potassium Sulphate
and one part Potassium Nitrate (Saltpeter).
CALCIUM SALTS: Blue flame. Use Calcium Chloride.
MAGNESIUM SALTS: White flames. Use Magnesium Sulphate
(ordinary Epson Salts).
There are two different methods of compounding these driftwood
salts. The first, which is best adapted when sawdust is used as
the base, is to dissolve the salt in water so as to get
practically a saturated solution. Stir the sawdust into the
solution until it is completely absorbed. Then spread out in a
thin layer to dry.
As a saturated solution of common salt is likely to give so
decided a yellow color to the flames as to obscure the other
colors, use about 1/2 ounce of salt to each pint of water.
The other method is to add about 1 pint of liquid glue to 7
parts of water. Crush the salts small (into a fine powder) and
add 1 pound of the powder to each gallon of the glue-water
mixture. Then dump into the liquid about all the sawdust the
liquid will take up, keep stirring and adding more sawdust until
the liquid has entirely disappeared, then spread out on a screen
rack to dry. This method is primarily well adapted when cork
waste is used as the base, the cork waste being much less
absorbent than sawdust, the chemical being left mostly as a
coating on the cork after it has dried.
Best results are obtained by treating separate portions of the
sawdust or cork waste with the solution of a single salt, and
after drying, mixing the treated sawdust or cork together. In
this way, the different colored flames will be more distinctive
than if the salts are mixed in a single solution and the base
treated with this.
There is no fixed proportion of the various salts to be used to
a given quantity of water. With the exception of the ordinary
salt, as much of the powdered chemical should be added to the
water as it will dissolve, this giving a saturated solution.
Some formulas for “Driftwood Salts” call for the use of nitrates
of the various metals instead of sulphates or chlorides, but the
nitrates burn too rapidly to prove entirely satisfactory. With
the exception of the Potassium Salt solution in which a little
nitrate is used, the nitrates should generally be avoided.
Coarse hardwood sawdust is better than pine or other soft wood
sawdust as a base. Cork waste, which is commonly used for
packing Spanish grapes, and which can be obtained from cork
factories makes a very excellent base.
TO USE: In use the Driftwood Salts are thrown on the logs in
the fireplace while they are blazing.
Materials may be had from general chemical dealers.
INVISIBLE INK IN POWDER FORM
Inks which can be made to appear and disappear again have always
been a source of interest to people in general and a great deal
of secret correspondence has been carried on by means of them.
Mail order dealers and schemers in this novelty line have been
known to have paid varying amounts for formulas for these inks.
A man who put out a good business plan some time ago had as the
nucleus of the plan an invisible ink powder to be sold on
display cards, etc. The formula he gave was a very simple one,
but he claimed it was the best that could be found. He said
that out of the sixty or more formulas there are for this
product, the majority of these require chemicals that must be
secured through large drug houses and must be added to water,
properly mixed and filtered to assure good results. A costly
and troublesome job – and the simple methods require lemon
juice, or milk and these too are inconvenient and expensive to
market. The formula he furnished was one ingredient, which was
simply WASHING SODA, better known as SAL SODA.
Sal Soda is obtainable at any grocery store even in the smallest
A tablespoonful of the washing soda will make half a tumbler of
invisible ink. The powder can be put in small envelopes, the
pay envelope type; use a good white envelope instead of a cheap
manila and have printed neatly, in colors, if possible, and red
or blue in preference to black, with words something like:
“(name) MAGIC INK. Just add water. Writing is invisible until
paper is heated. Or, dissolve contents in (say how much) water.
Writing with this ink is invisible until paper is heated with a
The directions for making and using the ink can be printed on
envelopes as above or on a separate sheet and enclosed. You can
make up the directions better after study of different items of
this kind now sold by novelty houses. It might be a good plan
to print all of the uses for the ink in a more elaborate way on
a small circular to be enclosed and if you are marketing other
specialties, novelties, jokes, magic books, tricks, etc.,
advertise some of these on the same sheet. You can have quite a
write-up for the ink itself.
Further directions on using this ink: Use ordinary steel pen, a
new point preferable; let dry, but do not wet the writing. When
paper is dry, message will be absolutely invisible. Hold to
light and you will be unable to find a single trace of the
writing. Now if you have an electric iron, just heat it, or any
kind of hot iron will do. The written message will appear in
quite a magical manner.
A show card can be printed or made by hand at a sign studio.
Attach the envelope to card with gummed tape so storekeeper can
remove them without injuring the card or envelopes. The top of
card can have large wording something like the matter on front
of each envelope, and the price – about 25 cents – or even up to
50 cents. Then down along each side of the row of envelopes
FOR SECRET PLANS; FOR PARTIES; FOR MAGIC TRICKS; FOR CHRISTMAS
CARDS; FOR GAMES; FOR LOVE LETTERS, Mfg. and distributed by:
Put about a dozen packets on a card and sell the cards at $1.00
or more each to dealers. At 15 cents up to 50 cents a packet he
has a good profit. Drug Stores, Tobacco Stores, Book and
Stationery Stores, Printers and Novelty Houses, and in fact
practically any kind of store can handle this item.
SILVER AND GOLD STARS: Powdered aluminum when sprinkled on a
fire will produce silver star effects. Iron filings used in the
same way will give golden stars. By combining the two a very
beautiful effect is obtained.
LIGHTING FIRE WITH ICE: Crumple a piece of paper into a ball
and into one of the folds near the top of the paper ball place a
drop of benzine or gasoline and on this spot, place a small
piece of sodium metal. Place this ball in a metal lid or dish
so the concealed sodium metal is at the top of the ball. Now,
with a piece of ice drop the water from the melted ice into the
sodium metal which will cause the paper to catch fire.
CANDLE FLASH: Lycopodium is the powder used in flashlight
powders and has been used by magicians when making their
entrance on the stage by tossing a small portion into a lighted
candle to produce a sudden burst of flame. Always remain at a
safe distance from the fire when throwing the lycopodium on the
WATER FIRE: This is similar to lighting fire with ice but
provides another interesting effect. Simply drop a piece of
sodium metal on the surface of hot water and it will catch fire.
BURNING NAMES: Soak some string in a solution of Potassium
Nitrate and water. Allow the string to dry. Paste the string
on cardboard in the design of one’s name or even pictures. In a
dark room light one end of the string and the fire will follow
the treated string with unusual effect.
THE FIREPROOF STRING: Soak a piece of string in a strong
solution of alum and water. When dry soak it again, repeating
this application several times. When dry this has the
appearance of ordinary string but it provides the means for an
amusing trick. Borrow a ring from someone in the audience.
Attach the ring to one end of the string. Tie the other end to
an appropriate support and light the string with a match. It
will burn but the ring will not fall as the unburned alum
provides sufficient support to hold the ring.
THE DEATH DEAL: Put a quantity of common table salt into a dish
and pour a quantity of alcohol over it so the salt is barely
covered. Allow the alcohol to soak up the salt for a few
minutes. Turn out all lights in the room and light the alcohol
with a match. The yellowish flickering flame will caste a
reflection on those around to give a weird death-like appearance.
GHOSTLY HOSTS: Soak some saffron in a small quantity of alcohol
until the alcohol becomes a deep yellow color. Draw off this
alcohol and add to it a small amount of table salt. Pour this
liquid over a ball of cotton and place on a long carving fork.
Light the soaked cotton and those in a dark room will take on a
ghostly appearance. Those with a ruddy complexion will take on
an olive tint while those with fair skin will appear deathly
green. Lips will appear a dark green.
TURNING WATER INTO FIRE: Another water-fire mystery is to have
a pitcher of clear clean water and to prove it is water, pour a
glassful and drink it. Now pour a portion of this same water
into a metal bowl and immediately it will burst into flame. To
do this, previously add two or three tablespoonsfuls of pure
ether into the metal bowl and into this place a small piece of
potassium not larger than a pen. When the water is poured into
the bowl, the potassium ignites, setting fire to the ether which
rises to the surface of the water with the effect that actually
this water is on fire.