How to Make Dust for Fingerprinting

Written by christina sloane
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How to Make Dust for Fingerprinting
Identifying fingerprints helps solve crimes. (Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Forensic teams dust crime scenes for fingerprints to narrow down suspects and condemn perpetrators. For ease of visibility, these law-enforcement officials use carbon or charcoal dust on light surfaces and aluminium dust for darker surfaces. Though real crime scenes should be left to the professionals, you can make your own fingerprint powder to play detective games at home.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Cornstarch
  • Candle
  • 2 white porcelain dishes
  • Work gloves
  • Butter knife
  • Bowl
  • Make-up brush
  • Clear tape
  • Clear plastic card

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  1. 1

    Place about a teaspoon of cornstarch on one of the porcelain dishes.

  2. 2

    Light the candle and hold the other porcelain dish upside-down over the flame. The flame will cause soot to form on the dish. After a minute, use the butter knife to scrape the soot onto the dish with the cornstarch. Repeat this process until you have an equal amount of cornstarch and soot.

  3. 3

    Mix the two substances and transfer the mixture into a bowl.

  4. 4

    Brush the mixture over an area with possible fingerprints. Brush away excess dust. Some dust will stick to the oil left by human fingers, making visible fingerprints.

  5. 5

    Lift any visible fingerprints with a piece of clear tape. Press the sticky side of the tape onto a clear, plastic card to transfer the fingerprint.

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