You should only learn to perform with fire from an experienced fire
(called paraffin in many places outside the U.S.) is the safest fuel for
all fire props. That doesn't mean that it is safe, but
it's safer than any other kind of liquid fuel. It is the least explosive
kerosene is not particularly toxic. If splashed on the skin it should
be wiped promptly, but if it isn't it will only give you contact dermatitis
(skin rash). If it is splashed in the eyes it should be thoroughly rinsed
out. If you should drink some, drink a glass or two of water to reduce
the possibility of indigestion, gas, or diarrhea, but do not induce vomiting
(because of the possibility of inhalation).
only a very few brands of kerosene are 100% pure, with no additives. These
are sold as aviation kerosene and are not available to the general public.
As of December 1998, I can find only Exxon Aviation Turbo Fuel, Mobil
Jet Fuel-Kerosene turbine fuel, and Pennzoil Kerosene Turbine Fuel (Aviation).
of the several hundred other brands and types of kerosene (aviation fuel,
coal oil, heating oil, lamp oil, and fuel oil) contain a variety of extremely
toxic ingredients, principally benzene and naphtha. These additives or
impurities are absorbed though the skin and mucous membrane, and accumulate
in the liver and kidneys. Some directly attack the corneas, so if such
kerosene is splashed into the eyes, the eyelids should be held open and
flushed for fifteen minutes, and you should seek medical attention immediately.
Again, if swallowed, do not induce vomiting, but seek medical attention
this means is that all kerosene should be treated as if it is highly toxic.
If the Manufacturers Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for a particular brand of
aviation-type kerosene says that it is one of the few that are 100% pure
kerosene, then you might trust it if you also see the barrel it comes
out of and read the labels on that barrel. Treat anything that is repackaged
for retail sales (smaller than 55 gallon drums) as highly toxic. I've
heard reports of people repackaging various grades of kerosene as nontoxic
or good for jugglers and fire-eaters -- some was, some wasn't.
and unscented lamp oil is kerosene without the bad smell. But contrary
to popular belief, the additives that make it more aesthetically acceptable
also make it more poisonous. Roman Oil was originally a naturally occuring
fuel and lamp oil without the usual odor or smokiness. Again the assumption
was that if it didn't smell bad it wasn't bad for you. And again, the
assumption was wrong: it is often among the more toxic of kerosenes.
FUEL and LIGHTER FLUID (Ronsonal and Zippo) consist of naphtha with various
additives to control smell and appearance. They are preferred by many
jugglers because they are not as smoky or as smelly as kerosene, and they
light quickly. But naphtha is much more volatile than kerosene -- that
is, it is more likely to explode or get out of control than kerosene.
You cannot dip blown-out but still smoldering torches into naphtha because
that will instantly set the contents of your fuel jar on fire. Even approaching
your fuel while holding smoldering torches can cause the fuel to explode.
You must completely extinguish all smoldering and wait at least thirty
seconds before recharging your torches when using naphtha. Naphtha is
as toxic as the worst of kerosenes.
STARTER (Kingsford and Wizard) is a mix of kerosene and naphtha. Some
jugglers prefer a mixture of 4 parts Coleman to 1 part charcoal starter,
because they think it makes a brighter but safer flame, with less smoke
and stink. Others mix Coleman and kerosene to produce the same effect.
All of these fuels are highly toxic if inhaled or ingested.
PAINT THINNER, AIRPLANE FUEL, and other highly volatile fuels are extremely
explosive and extremely toxic. The fumes remaining in a one-gallon can
that has been emptied of gasoline can explode with the force of a stick
of dynamite. When it is very hot and humid, gasoline fumes will not readily
disperse and may be ignited as much as a half hour after all the original
products are capped and stored. The fumes from Coleman, lighter fluid,
and barbecue starter will explode almost as readily, but not with quite
the same force -- say, a half-stick of dynamite. Kerosene and lamp oil
are fairly hard to blow up, which is why they are used in lamps and home
ALCOHOL is produced by fermentation. It is the basic ingredient in beer,
wine, and liquors, and is not immediately poisonous. Beverages with an
alcohol content of 60% (120 proof) or higher are volatile enough to be
used with fire props, but are seldom used because they produce a wimpy
and fire-breathers sometimes use high-proof liquor, such as Ron Rico Purple
Label Rum. This avoids the problems of poisoning, but blowbacks are just
as likely. EVERCLEAR, which is pure (100%, 200 proof) grain alcohol, is
also sometimes used. It approaches the volatility of gasoline, making
blowbacks almost inevitable. It is not available in some states. The only
medical problem with liquor or Everclear is that what you absorb from
doing a few blasts of fire will get you quite drunk. That's not a reasonable
condition to be in if you are doing fire.
each time you use it. Check split ring by handle for over stretching check
condition of wire and connection to wick. Check ball chain links and all
screws. Smooth Filament Fire Blanket, slightly damp blanket, appropriate fire extinguishers
and first aid kit etc. should all be readily available. This will also
include checking first aid box is fully stocked and fire extinguishers
are pressurized and ready for use.
you are not 100% sure it is safe then do not light up!
fitting natural fiber clothing. Conceal or wet long hair. Know where all
the safety equipment is. Have someone checking for your own safety (eg.
you may be unaware that your back is on fire). Make sure the other safety
personnel know what to do in case of an emergency. Fire
Blanket, slightly damp blanket, appropriate fire extinguishers and
first aid kit.
Be aware of any
local fire bans. Be aware of local fire safety regulations and permits
if required. Do not use fire on a flammable surface. Keep others out of
the twirling zone. Mark this area and have barriers if possible. Have
someone be in charge of keeping onlookers safe. Keep unused fuel well
away from the performance. Have fire safety equipment readily available
and know how to use it.
KEVLAR ® wicking in your fuel. Swirl around a bit and remove. Try not to
get the rest of the equipment covered in fuel.
fuel out of the wick to prevent spraying whilst spinning. Big downward
sweeps are another way to shake the excess fuel off but this is not good
for the environment or performance area so try and contain droplets..
equipment at its base - ie. The bottom of the KEVLAR ® wick. If it's windy,
use your body to shield the flame so it doesn't blow out. Turn it so that
the wicking isn't just burning on one side. When lighting equipment, make
sure that it is a safe distance away from the fuel container
When the flame
gets low and fuel runs out fire will begin burning the wicks instead.
So before this happens blow out fire from the bottom of the wicking. If
they don't go out after two blows place them on the ground and smother
them with a damp towel. When putting the towel over the wicks the flame
will be pushed away/out from the source. Make sure the flame is not pushed
back to yourself or others.(Do not smother with a very damp towel if that
gear needs to be reused later in the performance. In an emergency, USE
A FIRE EXTINGUISHER
Do not let
the KEVLAR ® wick smoulder, as it will not last as long.
Aid for Burns.
area under cold, gently running water for about ten minutes, by which
time it should have returned to normal body temperature. Remove jewelry
and clothing from affected area, but leave any that is stuck to the skin.
Cover the burn with a sterile, non-stick dressing. If the casualty is
conscious and thirsty, give frequent small amounts of water. DO NOT GIVE
ALCOHOL. Alleviate pain by gently pouring cold water over the dressing.
the burn is minor in nature, seek medical aid as soon as possible.
DO NOT apply any lotions or moisturizer,
prick or break blisters, overcool the casualty, put towels or adhesive
bandages directly onto the burn