Money-Making Formulas Of Chemical Magic


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 expelled.

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 glass jar.

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 possible strangulation.

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 chemicals.

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.


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 village.

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 hot iron."

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 have:


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 flame.

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.

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