Fire Eating at your camp fire
Wed, 27 Feb 1991 01:13:11 PST
PLAYING WITH FIRE
Many lay people think that fire eating is faked in some way, and that
the fire eater uses cold fire or special chemicals in the mouth. This is not
Please remeber the following:
FIRE-EATING IS DANGEROUS IF NOT PERFORMED CORRECTLY.
MANY FIRE EATERS HAVE DIED OR BEEN INJURED FOR LIFE THROUGH CARELESSNESS.
CONSTRUCTION OF FIRE EATERS TORCH
Many people use a length of dowel, with a piece of absorbent material,
about the size of a large marble fixed to one end. This material should not
melt when heated, so plastic is out and it should be securely fixed so that it
does not fall off in your mouth.
The fire sticks that I made are silver steel rods, fitted into the
wooden handles from metal files. I drilled two small holes near the ends of
these rods. I then bound a length of lamp wick material around the end,
covering the holes. When I had the diameter that I required, I stitched the
lampwick to the rod, through the holes, using very fine copper wire.
Whichever type of sticks you use, try to keep the flaming part
uppermost when not actually being put into your mouth. This will keep the
flame from heating up the shaft, or charring the shaft if it is wood.
FUEL FOR YOUR TORCHES
ONLY USE PARAFFIN FOR YOUR TORCHES. DO NOT USE petrol or lighter
fluid. These substances have been used by fire eaters in the past, but they
CHARGING YOUR TORCHES
After dipping your torch heads into paraffin, let all the surplus fuel
drip off into the container. Do not place hot or lighted torches into this
container. I have seen this done by a professional fire eater, who should have
known better, with catastrophic results.
TO EAT FIRE
Before placing a lighted torch into your mouth, wet the whole of the
inside of your mouth and lips with saliva. The reason for this is so that when
the flame is in your mouth, a layer of moisture forms between the flame and
your skin. This reduces the chance of burning. You will probably suffer minor
burns in the early days, but these should soon heal.
Pactice with an unlighted torch first. Tilt the head well back and
open your mouth wide. Breath out slowly through your mouth as you put the
torch in and out of your mouth.
When you are confident with this, you are ready to use a lighted torch.
Remember to wet your mouth and lips with saliva.
Please remember the following points.
BREATHE OUT ALL THE TIME SO THAT THE FLAME IS ALWAYS FLOWING OUT OF YOUR MOUTH.
NEVER BREATHE IN AS YOU WILL SUCK FLAME INTO YOUR MOUTH.
NEVER REMOVE THE TORCH QUICKLY FROM YOUR MOUTH.
THE FLAME WILL SHOOT BACK AND CAUSE A BURN.
WATCH OUT FOR BREEZES OUT OF DOORS AS THESE CAN CAUSE THE FLAME TO FLARE UP AND
You will have to experiment for yourself, to get the correct pressure
for breathing out. Put your head back, breathe out slowly through your mouth,
and put the lighted torch into your mouth. Then bring the torch out slowly,
When you have mastered putting a lighted torch into your mouth, you can
practice extinguishing it in your mouth. To do this close your mouth over the
flame, and breathe out through the mouth much stronger than before. Remove the
torch now unlit.
Once you have mastered one torch in the mouth you can go on to two.
This is more difficult, as you will have to open your mouth wider, you will
have to breathe out more strongly, and the heat will be a lot hotter. You can
put a lighted torch in your mouth, then an unlighted torch, finally bring both
THE GIANT BLOW OUT
Please note that this one effect, has killed and injured many who have
performed it. In this effect you blow balls of flame six feet or more in
length. I have never performed this effect due to the danger, but I give the
instructions for those foolhardy enough to try.
For this effect you have to be able to blow paraffin from the mouth
strongly and with great accuracy. It is a good idea to practice with water
while you are having a bath or a shower. Get about a quarter of a mouthfull of
water. Take a deep breath through the nostrils, and blow the water out
strongly and deliberately. Repeat this over and over again until you can do it
without water dribbling down your chin. The reason for this should be obvious.
When you have achieved this, practice blowing the water at a target such as a
wooden spoon held at arms length. When you can hit it in the same place at
every attempt, then you are ready to try the real thing.
Please let me state again, THIS EFFECT CAN KILL.
Take a small amount of paraffin in your mouth and retain it there.
Keep the fuel supply, well away from you in case of accidents. Hold a lighted
torch about a foot in front of your mouth. Take a deep breath through your
nostrils and blow in the direction of the torch. A huge flame will result,
shooting about six feet into the air. Remember YOU MUST BLOW WITH GREAT FORCE.
As soon as you feel that the liquid is nearly spent, close your mouth tightly.
Place your free hand over your lips, and at the same time pull your head away
from the flame. This is a very necessary precaution, as the flame may well
shoot back. You can now breathe safely again.
Do not attempt this feat in a house or any other enclosed space unless
it is large enough to take the flame. When performing this in the open, make
sure that the wind is blowing away from you, not towards you. If the wind is
of any strength DO NOT ATTEMPT THE GIANT BLOW OUT.
So ends the section on fire eating. There are several other effects
with fire which can be very spectacular, the ones listed below are much safer
than fire eating, but even so they should be handled with care as fire is
FLASH OF FLAME FROM A MATCH OR LIGHTER
With this effect, you can produce a sheet of flame from a match or
lighter held in your hand. You will need to obtain a quantity of LYCOPODIUM
powder from a chemical supplier. This is a very fine powder, in fact I think
that it is a type of pollen. You will also need a small rubber bulb, the sort
of thing they use on cheap solder suckers, I believe that Radio Shack stock
these in the States. Failing this the rubber bulb from a childs cycle horn
would do. Try to obtain the smallest bore plastic hose you can get. Our local
car spares shop, sells plastic tube for windscreen washers, this is ideal. If
you can find one, a small jet makes it better.
One end of the plastic tube, is fed under the wrist strap of your
watch. It should rest at the base of your palm and point towards the
fingertips. The tube runs up your sleeve, across your back and ends in the
rubber bulb which is in your other hands trouser pocket.
Place a quantity of the LYCOPODIUM powder in the rubber bulb and puff
it several times, until powder puffs from your wrist. This ensures that there
is powder in the tube.
If you now have a lighted match or lighter in your hand it will ignite
the powder cloud formed when you press the rubber bulb. Keep your hand well
away from your face when you do this.
Magical supply houses sell Nitro Cellulose in various forms. You can
buy it in paper sheet, called flash paper, wads of wool called flash wool and
also in the form of rope called would you believe it flash rope.
This material when touched by something like the tip of a lighted
cigarette, ignites with a brilliant flash and leaves no ash. I have the recipe
for making this but it involves some nasty concentrated acids. Unless you are
a chemist and know your job then I would recommend you to buy it ready made.
It`s a lot safer.
You do not need very much of the material to give you a big flash.
Please remember that it is an explosive, and don`t store large quantities of
So ends the section on fire stunts. Have fun but take care
Cheers for now
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City