What Color Is the Hottest Flame?

By: Clarissa Mitton  | 
When a gas stove reaches a high enough temperature, you can see blue and violet flames like these. Fentino / Getty Images

Flame colors span a spectrum that tells a tale as old as fire itself. Many people wonder what color is the hottest flame; more than a testament to the natural fascination with fire's beauty, this question underscores a fundamental principle in the science of thermodynamics and combustion.

Unraveling the answer sheds light on the intricate relationship between temperature, fuel and the resulting flame color, offering insights into both practical applications and the natural world's phenomena.


What Color Produces the Hottest Temperature?

The hottest flames are those that burn with a violet, ultra-violet, indigo and blue color. This may surprise those accustomed to associating heat with the vibrant oranges and reds seen in a crackling campfire or the glowing embers of a dying flame.

However, these blue and purple flames indicate the presence of a more intense and efficient combustion process, typically reaching higher temperatures than their yellow or red counterparts.


In scientific experiments and practical applications, such as a Bunsen burner in a laboratory setting or an oven hob in the kitchen, the blue-violet flame is a clear indicator of maximum heat output.

Blue flames are achieved under optimal conditions of fuel and oxygen, allowing for a complete combustion process that maximizes energy release and minimizes waste, thus serving as a benchmark for understanding the thermal and chemical dynamics at play.


How Hot Is a Blue-Violet Flame?

Blue fire can reach temperatures upwards of 2,552 to 2,912 degrees Fahrenheit (1,400 to 1,600 degrees Celsius), showcasing its superiority in the hierarchy of flame heat. Violet fires can burn upwards of 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit (1,650 degrees Celsius).

This intense heat is most notably observed in the hottest part of the flame, where the blue color is most vibrant and pure, indicating a complete combustion process. This means there's an efficient mixing of oxygen with fuel, which is important in controlled environments like laboratories (back to the Bunsen burners) and in industrial settings requiring blowtorches.


What Causes the Different Colors in Flames?

The different flame colors are linked to the chemical composition of the material being burned and the specific wavelengths of light emitted as a result of the chemical reactions.

When various elements are heated in a fire, their electrons absorb energy and jump to higher energy levels. As these excited electrons return to their lower energy states, they emit light at specific wavelengths, which correspond to different colors visible to the human eye.


The color and intensity of the flame are determined by the energy differences between the excited and ground states of these electrons, which vary from one element to another. For instance, burning sodium emits a bright yellow color, whereas copper produces a green flame, and potassium emits a violet hue.

In this way, flames serve as a natural spectroscope, offering clues about the elemental composition of the material being burned, helping us parse the relationship between chemical composition and the emission of light at specific wavelengths.


What Colors Are Found in Fires?

Typically, fires can display a range of colors from soft blue and bright yellow to deep orange and rich red. Here's what the colors typically mean.

  • Blue indicates a hotter, more oxygen-rich burn, often seen where the gas mix is optimal, such as in a well-adjusted burner.
  • An orange and yellow flame suggests moderate temperatures and is common in wood fires, where the combustion is less complete.
  • Red flames usually signal a cooler temperature and often occur in conditions of limited oxygen or when burning certain materials that don't allow for a more efficient combustion.

As you can see, flame colors can reveal the temperature and efficiency of the burn, based on the available fuel and oxygen.


Flame Temperature by Color

The temperature of fire varies depending on several factors, including the type of fuel being burned, the amount of oxygen available and the specific chemical reactions occurring within the flame. Below are the temperatures associated with different flame colors.

How Hot Are Red Flames?

Red flames are often associated with cooler fires that can range from 1,112 to 1,472 degrees Fahrenheit (600 to 800 degrees Celsius ). This color emerges at the lower end of the temperature scale, indicating a more subdued combustion process.


Red fires typically occur where there is a limited supply of oxygen or when the fuel burns at a slower rate. This makes red flames a common sight in gentle fires, such as smoldering coals or a dying fire.

How Hot Are Orange Flames?

Orange flames range between approximately 2,012 to 2,192 degrees Fahrenheit (1,100 to 1,200 degrees Celsius).

This temperature is common in scenarios where the fuel does not allow for complete combustion or when there's an excess of carbon particles within the flame, often seen in candle flames and open wood fires. The orange fire is not as hot or efficient as a blue flame but still sufficiently intense to achieve significant heat.

How Hot Are White Flames?

A bright white flame can exceed temperatures of 2,732 to 2,912 degrees Fahrenheit (1,500 to 1,600 degrees Celsius). This intense heat is often seen in situations where the fuel and oxygen mix is optimal, such as in a well-calibrated gas burner or during certain chemical reactions.

White fire is indicative of a powerful energy release, indicating a very intense and efficient burn.

How Hot Are Green Flames?

Green fire is special case; the color is more a reflection of the chemical composition of the material being burned than the heat of the fire itself. For example, burning copper compounds can produce a vivid green flame.

While the exact temperature of a green fire can vary depending on the chemical being burned, it generally indicates a combustion process that is similar in temperature to blue or orange flames, depending on the oxygen and fuel conditions.


Other Fire Temperatures to Know

Fires temperatures can vary widely depending on the source and conditions of combustion. Below are some common fire temperatures that people often inquire about.

Candle Flame

A typical candle flame burns at a temperature of around 1,832 to 2,552 degrees Fahrenheit (1,000 to 1,400 degrees Celsius) at its hottest point, usually located within the blue part of the flame. The temperature can vary slightly based on the material of the candle and the ambient environment.


Gas Stove Flame

Flames produced by a stove that's fueled by natural gas typically burn at temperatures around 3,542 to 3,632 degrees Fahrenheit (1,950 to 2,000 degrees Celsius) when set to "high." The blue flame indicates efficient combustion, making gas stoves a preferred choice for precise cooking applications.

Gas Burning Fires

Fires fueled by natural gas, such as those found in home heating systems or outdoor fire pits, can reach temperatures similar to those of a gas stove. The efficiency of combustion and the blue color of the flame signify a clean burn, with temperatures often exceeding 3,542 degrees Fahrenheit (1,950 degrees Celsius).


Fire Safety Tips Everyone Should Know

While the colors of flames offer a glimpse into the science of combustion and the varying temperatures of fires, it's paramount to remember the importance of fire safety.

Practicing fire safety is essential in preventing accidents and ensuring the well-being of individuals and communities. Here are some crucial fire safety tips everyone should know.


  • Store gas tanks properly. Whether for grilling, heating or other purposes, ensure gas tanks are stored in well-ventilated areas away from living spaces and potential sources of ignition. Regularly check them for leaks or damage to prevent unexpected incidents.
  • Handle wood safely. When using wood for fires, store it in a dry place away from your home to reduce the risk of accidental fire spread. Only use dry, seasoned wood for burning to minimize smoke and prevent the buildup of creosote, a common cause of chimney fires.
  • Install smoke alarms. Equip your home with smoke alarms on every level, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas. Test them monthly and replace batteries annually to ensure they are always in working order.
  • Plan and practice an escape route. Create a fire escape plan that includes two exits from every room and a designated meeting place outside. Practice this escape plan with all members of the household at least twice a year.
  • Keep fire extinguishers handy. Have a fire extinguisher readily available in key areas, especially the kitchen, and ensure every household member knows how to use it.
  • Never leave fires unattended. Always monitor open flames, whether from candles, fireplaces or cooking appliances. Ensure fires are completely extinguished before leaving the room or going to sleep.

This article was updated in conjunction with AI technology, then fact-checked and edited by a HowStuffWorks editor.