How to set yourself on fire

or, more accurately

How not to set yourself on fire

When I began writing this, I didn't realise E2 possessed such sage advice on safely immolating oneself. Consider this a complementary cautionary tale to remind you why safety really should come first. Apart from losing all the hairs on my left hand (they grew back) I suffered no long-term physical harm from this experience, but I could easily have done so.

So one day, when I was young and stupid, I had a really dumb idea. Technically, I had a great deal of dumb ideas when I was young and stupid, but most of the scars have faded by. Anyway, although it wasn't my intention, I ended up doing something quite like freshmint's writeup in How to make a flame appear from your hand. This is not, in fact, a good thing. Do not do this. Under any circumstances. Fire is not your friend, even if you're a creepy teenaged pyro with a mullet and a denim jacket.

So I says to myself, "Self," I says, "gasoline is a liquid, right? And a flamethrower is kinda like a squirt gun that shoots gas and lights it, right?"

You can see where this is going.

"So why can't I get a cheap squirt gun at the dollar store, fill it with gas and shoot fire at stuff?"

Those of you possessing any knowledge of the chemical properties of gasoline and the way it reacts to plastic -- or, for that matter, an ounce of common sense -- can now dismiss me as an idiot well on the way to autodarwination.

Actually, everything went great for a while (apart from the smell), and I ran around a piece of forest near my house shooting fire at things. My deep, inner adolescent desire to burn random stuff was sated, and all was well in the world. I didn't even start an uncontrollable wildfire that decimated the neighbourhood.

Eventually, the gas didn't squirt out so good anymore. The gasoline was melting the plastic of the squirtgun, as gasoline is wont to do. "Oh well," I thought. "It's not like I was going to keep it or anything."

I'm not sure if I was getting high on the ability to shoot jets of fire at stuff or just getting high on the gas fumes, or perhaps just really dumb, but I failed to realise that the gas was probably also melting other parts of my improvised immolator.

Soon afterwards, the tip of the water gun caught on fire. "Oh shit," I reflected. "That isn't supposed to happen." I blew out the fire, and continued. This was the second point at which a reasonable person would have twigged that something here was horribly, horribly wrong.

I was undeterred, filled as I was with the same special suicidally wreckless pyromaniacal gusto that motivated me to nearly blow my nuts off like Frank Zappa, except with model rocket engines instead of shells.

Soon enough, the moment I know you've all been waiting for arrived. The gun was really not squirting very well at all anymore, probably because the trigger mechanism was leaking all over my left hand. Predictably, what with the gun now completely covered in gasoline and me holding a fucking lighter directly in front of it like the smacktard I was, the gun caught on fire again. The following is an approximate account of my thoughts over the next few seconds, expanded and explicated for your sadistic viewing pleasure1:

Oh well, I will simply blow out this small flame, as I did the previous one.

Oh, the whole device is on fire. Well, I guess I'd better drop it quick, before I get hurt. Fire is dangerous!2

Funny, I have dropped the gun, and yet there is still fire on my SWEET HEMMORHAGING FUCK MY HAND IS ON FIRE FUCK FUCK FUCK HOLY JUMPING MONKEY JESUS.

Luckily my greasy denim jacket was not so greasy that I burst into flames entirely when I smothered my hand in the sleeve. My hand smelled like gas for a week afterward, though.

So to sum up, homemade flamethrower: bad idea, fire: scary, Johnny: stupid, safety: good

1 Really, come on. The amount of satisfaction you are deriving from my petrochemical peril is sick. Get help.
2 Yes, this is the first point in this whole episode that this occured to me.