Can you burn salt? (1 Highlight)

In this brief guide, we will answer the question, can you burn salt? We will discuss the conditions needed to burn salt and the chemical structure it has. We will also discuss the flaming rainbow experiment. 

Can you burn salt?

You cannot burn salt. Salt could burn if you apply a high temperature which would not be possible in a home kitchen or using regular appliances. 

To burn salt, you need an even higher temperature of 1413 Celsius or 2575 Fahrenheit, which only industries would be equipped to give. 

Salt needs a temperature of 800 degrees celsius or 1472 Fahrenheits to melt which is impossible to attain without a high-energy power source.

What is salt and why is it so difficult to burn it?

Salt is a term that defines a substance that is made of a positive and a negative ion. Commonly when we say salt, we are usually referring to the table salt; sodium chloride that we frequently like to add to our food and cooking. 

Any substance can burn, provided that you apply the required temperature. The governing factor that determines how much energy goes into burning a substance depends on the strength of the chemical compound. 

In the instance of sodium chloride, a very powerful bond is present. The positive sodium and the negative chlorine make up the molecule of sodium chloride. Sodium and chlorine are highly reactive elements, such that they explode in water but when they react together, they form a highly stable compound. 

To make table salt or sodium chloride burn, you need to break the bond that holds sodium and chloride together, and then excessive heat would burn the salt. Thus, very high energy would be needed to make such an instance happen. 

Some salts soluble in water; are Sodium Chloride, Sodium Carbonate, Sodium Hydroxide, and Calcium Chloride.

What would happen if you threw the table salt into a fire?

If you throw salt into the fire, you would observe that a change in the color of the flame. The salt does not burn, it merely intervenes with the energy of the flame and releases a photon of light. The sodium has a yellow color, hence it makes the flame change to yellow as you apply heat to it. 

If you use pink salt, then you might observe a pink hue with the yellow as it burns.

What are a few uses of salt?

Salt is used as a flavor enhancer and a preservative in many food varieties.

 Despite its overpowering taste, it is added to every cooked food possible. Salt is added to savories, sweets, baked goods, and even beverages. Minute quantities of salt bring out the flavor in food and beverages.

Salt breaks the cell wall of fruits, vegetables, and meat; causing a release of flavor and magnifying the natural taste of food. As the cell wall breaks down, the constituents escape which would otherwise not be free in the absence of salt.

What is the rainbow flame?

When you burn salt or; precisely expose a salt to a flame, you can see a reaction. You could dissolve the salt in water, let sticks of wood soak, and watch the action the other day. 

Other people use a flammable substance such as methanol, to observe the change in flame colors induced by metals. However, these experiments are carried out safely in a chemical laboratory and are not meant to be done without a professional. Burning salt to produce a rainbow flame can be dangerous and the American Chemical Society advises against the practice.

The experiment involves burning salt in a chemical solution to produce a bright-colored flame. The salt that people use for this experiment is either potassium chloride or copper sulfate. 

Salt is a stable compound that does not have a charge. As the salt is burned, a spectrum of the rainbow colors can be observed which is a result of the energy from the electron. The electrons are free negatively charged particles that orbit an atom. 

When you light the electron on fire, the electrons become excited and lose their energy. The color of the flame depends on the element that burns. 

If calcium is part of the salt that is being burnt, it takes an orange color while for the common table salt, we get a yellow glow.

Likewise, if we burn copper sulfate, the copper would cause the flame to be bluish-green while potassium takes on a violet color. Hence, each of the elements corresponds with a particular color of the rainbow. 

In this brief guide, we answered the question, can you burn salt? We discussed the conditions needed to burn salt and the chemical structure it has. We also discussed the flaming rainbow experiment. 


Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.