The witness student's description of how that incident played out tells me that the vapor pressure of the solvent is within the flammable limits of the solvent. That is how the "woosh" is generated; the flame advances into the bottle headspace. I'll speculate that like the (Colorado, Nevada or New York city) incident, the methanol bottle was in the one gallon range. I've seen demos where one can "get away with" this using a bottle of Heet (methanol added to the gas tank to sequester separated out moisture in the gas tank) with its small size and narrow neck.
Not enough people have the general instincts to not pour a flammable liquid onto an ongoing fire, unfortunately.
That flame color demo is a good one and having the various salts in a pan of burning methanol (specifically this solvent because the salts are partially soluble in it) is a good way to make it for a large audience. This to me is a common sense issue and I'm sorry to see it so way-too-often.
From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:dchas-l**At_Symbol_Here**med.cornell.edu]
On Behalf Of Jyllian Kemsley
Sent: Friday, October 30, 2015 2:13 PM
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Chemistry classroom fire injures 6
"She was demonstrating the experiment ... with the different elements causing the fire to change color, and as the fire was dying down she added more alcohol"
On Fri, Oct 30, 2015 at 9:25 AM, ILPI Support <info**At_Symbol_Here**ilpi.com> wrote:
Figured this one couldn't wait for Monday's headlines:
Two are in serious condition (presumably with burns). No chemistry details yet. I think we all have a good guess at what was involved based on unfortunate past experiences, but let's sit tight until there is confirmation.
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