Setting yourself on fire
Yes, I know.. It is not very hard to set yourself on fire - all it takes
is a match and something that burns easily. However, that's not what this
node is about.
Most people have gotten burned one or more times in their lives - and because
of this, they fear fire. If you want to be a pyrotechnician, respecting fire
is a good idea. Being afraid is not. However, because most people have this
inherent fear of fire, this makes your job a lot easier - relatively undangerous
tricks can look immensely scary.
How to set your hand on fire
Go to a drugstore / pharmacy and get a liquid that's called Heptane. This
is basically the same as gasoline, but it is used for cleaning wounds, and
is therefore medically cleansed. When you do buy the bottle of heptane,
make sure you never, ever use it for breathing fire.
Anyway. Take a juggling torch (or something else that absorbs liquid)
and pour some heptane on it. you don't need a lot, cause this stuff burns
very well. Now, light your torch.
Just after you have lighted the torch, touch it on the top of the palm of
your hand, and remove the torch. Be amazed - your hand is on fire. If your
hand starts feeling hot, just close it, and the flames are gone. Easy, wasn't
How to set your arm on fire
Setting your arm on fire is the natural progression from the trick described
above, with the exception that you are unable to "close" your arm
to put the fire out. This is a bit of a disadvantage, but it doesn't matter.
Extend your arm straight out. "Brush" your arm with your burning
torch, and remove the torch. Your arm should now have a cute tongue of flames
all along where you brushed the torch. This will result in filling most people
with the deepest respect for you (hehe.. They should only know how easy it
is). Pretend that it hurts - it gets the audience happier.
So what's the trick? Keep moving your arm downwards. The trick with
Heptane is that it isn't actually the fluid that burns - it is the gas that
comes up from the evaporating fluid. Your arm might get a little warm, but
you should not get burned. As long as you keep moving your arm downward ever
so slightly, you can actually walk about without noticing your arm is on fire.
How to set your head on fire
... Don't. Well.. Not your whole head anyway - but setting your hair on fire
can't harm. The best hair-length for use in shows is about an inch to an
inch and a half. If you have longer hair, you could try too, but be aware
that you will probably not be able to control the flames, which could lead
to a lot of pain.
Anyway. When setting your hair on fire, it should be damp - not necessarily
because that is going to save you, but because it stops all of your hair from
burning at the same time. You want the flame to burn for a while - for maximum
effect. Also, be aware that burning hair smells BAD.. This is really an outdoor
trick only. Make sure not all your hair burns away, because your scalp is
probably not fireproof (mine isn't)
The trick: Well, there really is no trick. Move the torch over your
head, and your hair should start burning. If you feel brave, you can have
a friend breathe fire using your head as a match (this is dangerous - only
do this with people who know exactly what they are doing when breathing fire)
When setting your head on fire, have somebody stand by with a very large
and very wet bath towel. Make a deal to do something special (a hand movement,
a special word, whatever) so that if you need help, that they run on stage
and put you out. Yes, it looks ridiculous, but it's better to be safe than
How to set your whole body on fire
This I will not describe, in case somebody decides to try it. If you are
curious, send me a message. The process involves an asbestos suit, lots
of special flame retardant and cooling chemicals, extra oxygen tanks and
lots of fire extinguishers. In other words: No toy.
Words of warning
I am a pyrotechnician, and chances are that you are not. This means that
I have been through courses that have prepared me for doing stunts with
fire and explosions, and I know how to deal with them in a matter then
ensures that nobody dies (well.. There is a good chance nobody dies).
I do not want anybody to get hurt, harmed or otherwise damaged. Fire *is*
dangerous, and should be treated with respect. If you have any questions,
feel free to /msg me to ask, but I do not take any responsibility for your
actions. Be careful.
Back to the node on pyrotechnics
Please read the disclaimer
. Also, make sure you have read the Pyrotechnics safety tips