Warning: Home of Poi and Pele do not endorse
Fire Breathing, nor do we take responsibility for anyone
injured in attempting these fire arts. This is meant as an informative
guideline only. In attempting fire breathing you do so at your own
What is fire breathing?
Fire Breathing is the aspiration of a fuel through a fire, causing the
ignition of the fuel. (NB See definition below)
Is fire breathing dangerous? Why?
FIRE BREATHING is THE MOST DANGEROUS OF THE FIRE ARTS .
Even done correctly fire breathing can have adverse results on the health
and well being of the breather such as, but not limited to:
B. Severe burns
D. Dental Problems
E. Stomach and tissue ulcers
F. Fuel Poisoning
G. Chemical Pnuemonia or Acute Respiratory Distress
H. Dry Cough
I. Headache, dizziness, drunken ill feeling
J. Nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach ache
K. Dry mouth/ Cotton Mouth
L. Dry skin and topical heat burns
Frequently Asked Questions about Fire Breathing..
There are many questions surrounding
fire breathing. The first may be what the technically correct term is
for it. Regionally, it seems the name ranges from breathing, to blowing,
to spitting, none of which is definitively correct. According to Random
House College Dictionary:
- Spitting: to eject saliva from the mouth, to sputter.
- Blowing: To produce or emit a current of air as if from the mouth,
to move along as if by wind
- Breathe: (of a material) to allow air or moisture to pass through
easily, to move as in air.
- Aspirate: to produce and audible puff; the removal of a fluid from
a body by aspiration; the high-speed flow of a fluid past an orifice.
While aspirating is the most
appropriate term to use, it seems that to say breathing is more commonly
associated with this fire art internationally than any other, and so will
be the term I use from this point on.
NOTE - some usage of the term "aspirate" is the opposite
of this - the medical term
means to breathe in. In
no way do we mean this usage of the word!
is the most dangerous of all the fire arts!
I also feel that while still
early in my musings it must be mentioned that once you choose to embark
into the world of fire breathing, you will be participating in what is
the most dangerous of all of the fire arts. Fire breathing
comes with the strongest hazards and the gravest effects of any of the
fire presentations we could possibly present. Fire breathing can be accompanied
by simple side effects, but also bares the possibility of having long
term repercussions on a person's health. These things should be considered
long and hard before venturing into the realm of fire breathing.
effects, which tend to appear within 24 hours after Fire Breathing,
- Dry Mouth/.Cotton. Mouth: Caused by the fuel it can be taken care
of by drinking plenty of fluids before, possibly during, and after a
- Dry skin or a ruddy hue to your complexion: This can have two main
causes. One is having a topical allergy to the fuel used. Take note
if this turns into a rash, becomes raw or is centralized to chin and
mouth area, chances are you have an allergy and should not be using
that brand of fuel, or fire breathing in general. The second reason
is the intense heat of the fire, being in such close proximity to
your face, will burn your skin in a way very similar to a low-grade
sunburn. It does not hurt and liberal use of moisturizer will help this.
- Singed facial hair
- Nausea or stomach ache: This is caused by the accidental ingestion
of a small amount of fuel, or simply from the small amount of fuel that
washed down from inside your mouth to your stomach with saliva. The
best treatment for this is preventive measures, such as taking a caplet
of activated charcoal, drinking milk- cream- or buttermilk, eating something
starchy (bread or non-fried potatoes), or taking an ant-acid before
and after your fire breathing.
- Some people have experienced headache, dizziness or a feeling similar
to being drunk, after fire breathing: This can be the result of dehydration,
in which case drinking plenty of fluids is optimal. This can be from
a technique problem, much to the same effect as if you were to struggle
blowing up a balloon. In this case evaluation of how you go about fire
breathing and changing your technique is your best solution.
- A dry cough is not uncommon after fire breathing. This can be from
smoke inhalation or from the accidental inhalation of aspirated fuel.
The best course of care for this is small baby breaths during the coughing
bout. Normally it will subside within the period of a day. If it is
severe or does not subside then consult a physician.
addition to side-effects, Fire Breathing also comes with a list
of possible long-term health hazzards.
This list includes, but if not
- Cancer of the mouth, throat, lungs, kidneys and liver. This is from
long term exposure to carcinogenic fuels. (see also MSDS)
- Gum disease as well as other dental problems such as weakened tooth
- Chemical Pneumonia, which is, in simplest terms, damage to your lung
tissue caused by inhalation of aspirated fluids. This can be detected
within 24 hours of fire breathing from severe cough, fever, lethargy,
nausea, shortness of breath and over all flu like symptoms. This can
also occur over the course of time, much like a smoker's cough.
- Related to Chemical Pneumonia is Acute Respiratory Distress. This
is a when your bronchial tubes close and shortness of breath occurs.
Taking small baby breaths will be enough to get air into your system
without promoting coughing. See a physician immediately.
- Stomach ulcers.
- Blowback. This is where the fire follows either the spray of fuel
or the fuel fumes back to your face igniting your flesh and possibly
your mouth on fire.
- Wind shift: Similar to a blowback, this is when the wind blows your
fire breath back into your face.
- Fuel Poisoning: This is from the ingestion of too much fuel. Symptoms
of this can include diarrhea, vomiting, severe nausea, extreme dizziness,
cold sweats, fever, blurred vision and the shakes.
While the symptoms and repercussions
of some of these are immediate and others take years to develop, they
all can be deadly in their most severe forms, and can happen to well-seasoned
professionals as well as novices and so should not be considered lightly.
Lastly burns are very real for
even the most experienced fire breathers, from the barely noticeable topical
burns to deadly internal burns. Treatment for topical burns is cold running
water followed by aloe or burn treatment ointment. For severe burns see
a physician. Keep minor burns clean and uncovered (when able to expose
to air) or covered loosely with a bandage for best healing results.
Remember, as with all fire it
is not if you will suffer any of these ailments but when. Being prepared
is the key to having the mildest ailment and a speedy recovery.
But what about corn starch?...
So, what about other, "non-toxic" fuels/methods such as corn starch/corn flour? The fine powder
form of corn stach makes a similarly explosive showing and was the reason why several flour mills exploded
in 'the olden days'! The impression is that since corn starch is used in baking it is non-toxic and therefore
safe for fire-breathing...
True, it may be non-toxic, but get ANYTHING into your lungs and you are
potentially in deep trouble. And because corn starch is such a fine powder it makes it even easier to get
into your lungs with possible nasty effects - pneumonia, pleurisy. I know when I take the lid off the corn
flour to hold it well away from me because when I don't I always start coughing because of the powder.
It is this aspect that give us cause for concern, as anything going
into the lungs has potential to cause fatal conditions.
Home of Poi maintains that ANY form of fire breathing is dangerous.
You can reduce the risks, but you cannot eliminate them all. Since the greatest of these risks involves
damage to your lungs and is therefore totally life threatening, Home of Poi will continue to "advertise"
FIRE BREATHING as THE MOST DANGEROUS OF THE FIRE ARTS.
Tell me more about Fire Breathing..
See also Fire Safety
, A season in hell (A
Fire Breathing accident), MSDS Fuel Safey