This question can be answered simply. A burning laser is a laser pointer that operates at a higher power output. But this simple answer has a lot of implications, depending on your needs; there is a laser for every occasion.

It would not be wise to use a burning laser to illuminate PowerPoints at business meetings, mostly due to the dangers of pocking the screen with burn marks or accidentally flash-blinding a board member, but also because it would just be too bright. It is likely that in a dark room, the beam of a burning laser would be visible where a laser pointer would only show a dot at the beam terminus. A visible beam is distracting in the wrong setting, and mesmerizing in the right one.

There are exceptions that lead to other considerations, though. The human eye is more perceptive to green light, so a green laser always seems brighter than a red one of equal output. In the business meeting situation, a green laser pointer might be too obtrusive, whether or not it is capable of burning. The difference really is a matter of understanding how wavelength and power are related.

Light is energy, and like all energy, varies when certain factors are affected. The most prominent of these factors is wavelength, which is what makes light colorful- a wavelength of about 400 nm (nanometers) produces blue light, and 700 nm corresponds to red light. Violet light has a lower wavelength because it has more frequency, which gives it more energy. So the closer you get to violet, the more basically powerful the light.

The same concept is present in the principle behind “shift” in astronomy- because it takes a long time for light to travel between celestial bodies, the light is easily distorted. If a star is observed from Earth with a red tint, that means that the light is moving more slowly than the normal white starlight because red has less energy. Light moving slower means that there is a difference in velocity, which leads to the conclusion that the star is moving away from Earth.

But back to lasers, the point is that a 100mW red laser will not burn like a green laser of the same power will. The power is what you must pay attention to. But don’t worry if you don’t feel like doing optics calculations- at Nitrox Lasers, we will work hard to get you just the kind of laser you need. Feel free to contact us with your concerns and ideas of what you want a laser for, and we will give you suggestions to help you make your choice.