How to Make a Red Emergency Flare

Written by david roberts
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How to Make a Red Emergency Flare
A flare is an emergency signal that gets attention. (Dick Luria/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Flares do what they are supposed to do and this is get attention. Some are flame-like, others emit smoke. They are relatively cheap and easy to obtain in car emergency kits at your local big-box store. In case of emergency though, you may not have a flare handy to get the attention you need. In that case, some items you have available in your house may do the trick. There are a few different ways to make a flare, especially a red flare.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • Ping pong balls
  • Aluminium foil
  • Aluminium cooking bag
  • Screw or small nail
  • Scissors
  • Lighter
  • Organic red dye
  • Para-nitroaniline red
  • Sugar

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    Small Scale Flare

  1. 1

    Take one ping pong ball and wrap it in one layer of aluminium foil with a tail. It should resemble an eyeball removed from its' socket or a tadpole if you will.

  2. 2

    Tighten the foil on the tail of this 'eyeball' so that the flames do not shoot out the back of the flare.

  3. 3

    Puncture a small hole with a screw or small nail through the foil and ball in what would be the 'pupil' of the 'eyeball'. Scratch a small area around the hole to expose the surface of the ball.

  4. 4

    Place one tablespoon of paranitroaniline red mixed with a tablespoon of sugar into the ball. You can find the para-red, as it is called, in chemical supply stores.

  5. 5

    Light the exposed surface of the ping pong ball until you see the flame begin. Set the flare down and watch the reaction as the petroleum based ping pong ball is ignited. The flame and smoke will last for about 40 seconds but will emit a bright red flame and some smoke as well.

    Large Scale Flare

  1. 1

    Crush about 180 ping pong balls and cut each into small pieces.

  2. 2

    Mix a cup and a half of paranitroaniline red and a cup and a half of sugar into the pieces and let them sit for a while.

  3. 3

    Pour mixture of pieces and chemicals into a foil cooking bag. Squeeze out as much air as possible and fold over the opening tightly about five times.

  4. 4

    Poke one small finger sized hole in the top centre of the bag. Poke four small finger sized holes in the four corners of the cooking bag. This will allow the smoke to escape and prevent the whole contents from catching fire.

  5. 5

    This flare can last for several minutes pouring red flames and smoke from the holes in the bag. It will be clearly visible for several miles and will burn extremely hot with toxic fumes.

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