5

For a dessert I recently made, I intended to flame, or burn some alcohol on a quinel of ice cream. Unfortunately, it would not light. I've searched the web a bit since and have come to think it was to cold for the alcohol to evaporate and so burn (bad explanation, I know). Is this why? How would I go about achieving this, ideally with no chemicals as I have a kitchen not a lab.

Thanks in advance!

7

For a substance to burn, it must first reach its ignition point. For it to keep burning, it must reach its fire point. The ignition point of a 40% ABV liquid such as brandy is 26ºC/79ºF, and the fire point is approximately 10ºC higher than that.

What this means in practical terms is that you need to heat the alcohol a little first before you add it to the ice cream. The simplest way to do this is to put the alcohol in a ladle and heat it over the hob - it won't need much as 36ºC is not a great deal over room temperature. Then light it carefully with a long match, and pour it around your ice cream - if you've got it warm enough it should keep burning until the alcohol is consumed.

  • Whoa, 80 proof liquor would catch on fire if you left it outside in a Texas summer? – Cascabel Feb 27 '12 at 17:49
  • @elendilthetall Just the answer I was looking for +1 – Sebiddychef Feb 27 '12 at 18:07
  • 4
    @jefromi No, it wouldn't - unless you put a match to it. The ignition temperature is the temperature required for a substance to ignite when exposed to a flame. For a substance to spontaneously ignite (i.e. without a flame) it needs to reach the autoignition point: for ethanol that's 365ºC/689ºF - even Texas summers aren't that hot :) – ElendilTheTall Feb 27 '12 at 19:46
  • Oh, okay, I inferred badly from the mention of both ignition and fire point. Never mind! – Cascabel Feb 27 '12 at 19:58

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.