I wanted to use flash cotton (nitrocellulose) to ignite fireballs with an electric trigger. In order to make green fireballs, my attempt will be to put some drops of boric acid solution on each (nitrocellulose) projectile. Should I expect any... "surprise" there? (e.g. the compound exploding by itself in that moment).

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    $\begingroup$ Boric acid is toxic and causes damage to the unborn (teratogenic), so maybe not such a great idea to use on a party. $\endgroup$ Oct 25, 2016 at 19:24
  • $\begingroup$ @ketbra according to wikipedia, boric acid is approximately twice as toxic as NaCl, so there are far worse things. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boric_acid. The teratogenicity is a concern, but I think the risks associated with nitrocellulose are at least as great. $\endgroup$ Oct 25, 2016 at 21:50
  • $\begingroup$ @LevelRiverSt good to hear that you are trusting on wikipedia on this. I rather not make decisions on teratogenicity based on wikipedia, but I guess that's your choice to make, anyway. Why not just have a look at a trustworthy source instead (e.g. supplier information)? Cellulose nitrate is explosive, but not toxic at all. I just wanted to point out that boric acid is teratogenic as I would have wanted to know about it before working with it. $\endgroup$ Oct 25, 2016 at 21:58

1 Answer 1


I would not expect boric acid to cause ignition of nitrocellulose. However, boric acid may react with un-nitrated hydroxyl groups on the cellulose backbone--likely a benign reaction. You might need more than a few drops of boric acid solution to see a green color - perhaps immersion in boric acid solution will be needed. Copper salts might give a good green color, so that is also worth trying. Either way, you will want to let the nitrocellulose dry thoroughly before trying to ignite it.

Also, be sure to carefully practice the words: "I AM OZ, THE GREAT AND POWERFUL" before you go public.

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    $\begingroup$ No. I will practice shouting Aveda Kedavrah! Seriously... i'm not a chemistry expert or even student, but I ask it as an addon to cosplay (death eater this time) and illusionism xD. Thanks for your tip :D. $\endgroup$ Oct 25, 2016 at 15:04
  • $\begingroup$ I once searched both expressions, and seem to be actually different ones. But it is still not clear to me since the sources claimed to be neither sure. Don't know where can you ask about this topic xDD. $\endgroup$ Oct 25, 2016 at 15:22
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    $\begingroup$ Please be careful with boric acid, as it is toxic! $\endgroup$ Oct 25, 2016 at 19:23
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    $\begingroup$ @ketbra: It's so toxic it will even poison a nuclear reactor :-) $\endgroup$ Oct 25, 2016 at 21:55
  • $\begingroup$ I understand. Please tell me: using copper sulfur instead of boric acid would cause a reaction? $\endgroup$ Oct 25, 2016 at 22:31

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