Not sure if this is the wrong SE for this, happy to move it if not...

In the Netflix TV series Sabrina, there is a scene where people take part in an appropriately-gothic-and-ominous lottery, which proceeds as follows:

  1. Fourteen participants draw, one at a time, pieces of paper from a box. The papers are all blank and have no differences visible to the human eye in the (rather moody) lighting.
  2. The participants burn their paper in the flame of a candle which is in front of them. There is a separate candle for each participant, but they all appear to burn with the same yellow flame.
  3. Twelve of the papers burn up quickly, like flash paper. The other papers burn more slowly, and release red (for the 'runner up') or white (for the 'winner') smoke, respectively.
  4. The runner up waits on the winner hand and foot for three days, and then the winner is killed and eaten cannibalistically, with a strong religious 'ascension' dogma.

Depending on your point of view, this is a lottery you may or may not want to win, and also one which there would be great advantage in being able to rig to ensure a particular winner. So my questions are:

What chemistry could you use in the papers and candles to achieve the effects shown?

  • $\begingroup$ Don't think this will be answered here. Pictures may help $\endgroup$ – Avyansh Katiyar Oct 30 '18 at 11:50
  • $\begingroup$ I removed the follow up questions as they are too broad to answer. $\endgroup$ – A.K. Oct 30 '18 at 12:40
  • $\begingroup$ @A.K. some sort of "identify" tag. Sci-fi-and-fantasy SE, for instance, has story-identification, which is "I remember this story where X happened, can anyone identify what it was?". I guess I'd be looking for a tag which meant "suggest chemistry which could result in X non-scientific effect". $\endgroup$ – Stephen Oct 30 '18 at 12:47
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    $\begingroup$ There is a tag identification, but we have already talked about removing it, because it is a meta tag. It simply doesn't help in determining which chemistry it would belong to. cc @A.K. $\endgroup$ – Martin - マーチン Oct 31 '18 at 10:08
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    $\begingroup$ I think the question (as it is now) is fine and there are probably a few (but narrow in scope) legit answers. I would recommend keeping it open and see what happens. $\endgroup$ – Martin - マーチン Oct 31 '18 at 10:10

Smokeless and quick burning isn't hard to achieve, just use flash paper. For white smoke, I would use flash paper again but with a white oxide powder such as titanium oxide with a flame retardant to slow the burn. For red, again flash paper but, you need a compound that releases bromine when burned. I think copper(i) bromide or silver(i) bromide would be ideal as both are easy to decompose and tolerant to moisture in air, though silver bromide is not tolerant to prolonged light exposure. These salts may discolor the paper and you may need to color the non-red smoke papers to make them all look the same.

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  • $\begingroup$ I don't think bromine is a good way to get red in a flame and is certainly not safe (though given the context this might not be an issue). Surely a strontium salt would be better? $\endgroup$ – matt_black Nov 1 '18 at 15:57
  • $\begingroup$ @matt_black red smoke, not flame. And yes bromine is not the best, but given the context I would not worry about the irritating smoke. $\endgroup$ – A.K. Nov 1 '18 at 16:07

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