Pyrokinetic FX

Where one learns to make fire without flame.

Learn how to make fake fire, flames, fire trail, etc…

Description of the effect

A building is on fire without burning your home, a candle lits on her own, a piece of paper burn without any explanations or a trail of embers appears on a piece of dry newspaper drawing a predefined shape…

Nicce idea!

If you have not already done so, I invite you to read the Making smoke without fire article, we will use common ingredients. The pyrotechnics are still very impressive, but also dangerous! Here we will study the close-ups fireworks FX. Small effects, at minimal cost, but with real impact!

How it works?

We will cover an illusion and two different chemical principles. The redox between permanganate and glycerin, and the use of sodium chlorate as an oxidizer.


  • Glycerin. It is found in pharmacies.
  • Potassium permanganate (KMnO4). It is found in pharmacies too.
    WARNING! If this product is not poisonous, it is harmful if ingested, it promotes the combustible material (oxidizer) and it is very toxic to aquatic organisms, may cause long-term adverse effects for environment (water still).
  • Sodium chlorate. It is found in hardware stores as a weedkiller.
    WARNING! Refer to the instruction manual for safety precautions.


A candle that lits itself.
Take the equivalent of a pea of permanganate that you put in small piles in the middle of a sheet of paper. With the back of a spoon, you crush the crystals using a circular motion, until the permanganate reduces to a fine powder. Now shut the powder in a tiny little packet of filter paper that you made up from a piece of tea bag, and seal everything with a little drop of cyanolite glue (super glue) using a pin head.
If you want to light a candle, stick this tiny permanganate bag against the wick with the help of a little drop of candle wax. Your attachment is now ready. When you want to turn it on, you just need a little bit of glycerin on the fingertips, come and caress the tip of the candle wick (in fact, the small bag). The candle will light up within 5 to 10 seconds to come! To trick you can put a little bit of glycerin under the table, to better soak your finger at the right time, but beware, the glycerin is fatty, so it’s stain!
To ignite a piece of paper, use flash paper (providing magic). Glue the small bag of permanganate on one side, and proceed the same way as for the candle…
Path of fire on a sheet of paper
This second effect is prepared as follows: Take the equivalent of 6 tablespoons of weedkiller and put it in a small glass bottle. Add 10 ounces of water. Close and shake vigorously! You can not dissolve all the crystals, it is normal, the idea is to get the solution to saturation. Using a brush, and stir vigorously between each line, draw on a sheet of paper the shape that you want to appear in the fire. Wait until the track dry and repeat several times (to make sure the crystals are deposited on the sheet. A tip, the better your paper is absorbent, the better it will work. Also remember to keep a continuous line to your drawing…
Once your paper ready, just to meet the glowing end of a stick of incense or a cigarette on one of the features of the plot for it illuminates and follow the path you have defined.
Making a false fire (or how to make a building ablaze FX!)

The fake fire effect

We’ll use a good old smoke machine, red and orange light spots, Flickering light box and the pipe of an old cleaner!
The principle is simple, we’ll connect one end of suction hose to the smoke machine, and close the other end. Previously, we had drill holes along the pipe to let the smoke escape. We will place this device under a windows and light smoke from below using our colored spots. I strongly recommend you to consult the fact sheet on light boxes available on the 2009 GNiales resource section, Special Effects on page 2009. To complete the effect, connect the spots on a Flickering light box and do not forget to add sound FX! (The fire makes noise, you will find on the net amount of free sound effects, perfect for this use, I suggest you this one found on Spotify or alternatively, this other below).

Fake Fire Schematic

Suggestions have

You can combine the first two effects! A small bag of permanganate may well turn on the invisible fire path that you have prepared on the paper!
Placed at the end of a cigarette, a small bag of permanganate little light it.
These effects are truly magical, but keep in mind that even if the flames are small, fire is always dangerous!
A little note to tell you again to store the products in sealed bottles, and in different places, to avoid any unfortunate blunders! Remember also that potassium permanganate and a fragile product! He feared the heat, and especially light. Keep it in an opaque bottle!

- Download this article in PDF format (French only).

  1. Merci pour ce tuto très instructif. En revanche, le chlorate de soude est interdit à la vente depuis le 31 mars 2010 en Europe (depuis le 31/12/2009 en France) et à l’utilisation depuis le 31 mai 2010. Existe-t-il un équivalent en vente libre ?

  2. Bonjour,
    J’ai une question à vous poser par rapport au faux-feu, comme celui dans votre vidéo, avec une machine à fumée.
    Je voulais savoir s’il fallait absolument avoir le noir total dans la pièce pour bien voir les flammes et que l’effet soit réussi, ou si on pouvait tout de même bien voir le feu avec une lumière un tout petit peu tamisée (mais assez claire), et si l’effet était complètement perdu avec une lumière totale.
    Je voudrais avoir une idée avant d’acheter tout le matériel pour procéder à des essais.
    Merci beaucoup !!!

  3. Bonjour,

    j’ai essayé d’allumer la bougie, mais rien ne se passe en mélangeant le permanganate de potassium et la glycérine…

    Quelqu’un pourrait-il m’aider à résoudre ce problème ?

    Merci par avance !

  4. je me lance dans un film et je veux savoir si on peu jeter une personne dedans et tout en le faisan dans en endroit sombre

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