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Make Wildfire (Trimethyl Borate) from Game of Thrones

October 5, 2019


Warning: Sulfuric acid is corrosive, wear gloves when handling it.
This experiment also handles open flames.
Fire safety protocols must be in place.
Greetings fellow nerds.
A friend of mine PixelLitch on youtube asked me to duplicated wildfire from game of thrones.
While i won’t make high explosives on my channel,
we can duplicate the brilliant green flames of wildfire.
First we’re going to start with methanol, also sold as methyl hydrate.
We’re using methanol because it burns with a relatively weakly colored blue blame.
This allows us to insert another color without worrying about the color of underlying fuel.
Now to make the flames green, all you gotta do is add some borax or boric acid.
I’m using borax since i couldn’t find boric acid.
Mix it up to get a saturated solution.
What’s happening is the borax is reacting with the methanol to produce small amounts of trimethyl borate.
The conversion is very small, maybe only a few percent or less.
But the effect is very powerful.
Now all we do is light it.
And there it is, basic Wildfire.
This works because the boron in the trimethyl borate burns with a brilliant green flame.
Now the small flares of yellow are because of sodium.
Borax is composed of sodium tetraborate
and so the when the leftover sodium is aerosolized from the heat
it imparts an overpowering yellow color that masks the green boron.
Boric acid is better to use since it doesn’t have sodium.
Anyway, this is good, but we can do a lot better by purifying the trimethyl borate.
So let’s make pure wildfire.
We start with 200g of borax and add to it 650mL of methanol.
Now we setup a reflux condenser with cooling water
and add 100 g of concentrated sulfuric acid through the top.
I’m using low grade drain cleaner acid but this will still work.
Very slowly add the acid as methanol has a tendency to boil when mixed with sulfuric acid.
This is also why i have the reflux condenser setup to control the boiling methanol vapors.
Once all the acid as added, rearrange the condenser and set up a fractional distillation column.
Now very slowly raise the temperature until you start distilling a fraction at 54 Celsius.
It’s very easy to overshoot so try and go as slowly as possible.
What’s happening in the reaction flask is the sulfuric acid is reacting with the borax and methanol
to form sodium bisulfate and trimethyl borate.
The trimethyl borate forms a low boiling azeotrope with methanol
of about 75% trimethyl borate and 25% methanol by weight.
This is the fraction we’re distilling at 54 celsius.
Now the trimethyl borate is very slow to form and it took me about ten hours of distillation to finish.
So you have to be patient.
And there we have it, concentrated azeotropic trimethyl borate.
Now to test it. On the left is the original saturated solution of borax in methanol.
On the right is our azeotropic trimethyl borate.
Let me get the lights.
And there we go.
As you can see the trimethyl borate is much better.
No yellow sodium flares and a much brighter and intense green flame than the original.
So there you have it, pure Wildfire.
Hi I’m Aaron from the channel Pixellitch.
And if you would to see the wildfire that NurdRage made in action,
head over to my channel at youtube.com/pixellitch
or follow the link in the description below.
Spoiler warning though, if you haven’t seen the end of the recent season of Game of Thrones,
you might want to go watch that first and then head on over to my channel.
So i made this small model of the Great Sept of Baelor and we lit it on fire, it’s really awesome.
Check it out.

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