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.

How to set yourself on fire, and live to tell the tale.

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 it?

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 sorry

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.

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Please read the disclaimer. Also, make sure you have read the Pyrotechnics safety tips.