JeannieGOLD Member
18 posts
Location: Miami, Florida, USA

Okay, so I'm just starting out. Okay, so I've got a ways to go before I'm ready to start lighting my poi on fire. I'm excited. So, following the instructions off another poi website, I make myself a pair of finger wands, out of heavy wire and 100% cotton, just like they said to. I put them in a small amount of lighter fluid, take one out, and shake the excess fluid off. I walk ten feet away, and light it. Foomp. That's the sound cotton makes as it's engulfed in flame. The "wick" was only an inch by an inch by an inch and a half, but the flame was huge. I mean, HUGE. Easily a foot high. And HOT. I didn't know what to do with it! I've seen dancers use finger wands before, but I couldn't even begin to do anything with this thing. I just stared at it for awhile, then went to go put it out. I was supposed to blow it out?? This is insane, I thought. There is no way I'm ever going to control that kind of flame. And the wicks for poi are like three times bigger than this! Even if I practice, and become flawless with my tennis balls, I'll never be able to move to flaming poi. Okay, so I've still got a ways to go before I need to worry about flaming poi. Okay, so I'm scared. HELP! I don't want to be scared! I'm sooo friggin depressed now. What do I do? Tell me I just made a stupid mistake, like~ I shouldn't have used lighter fluid. Or~ I made the wicks too big. Or~ I shouldn't have used cotton. Or tell me that lots of people get scared of their first flame, and I shouldn't worry about it. I'll get over it, and all will be sunshine and daisies and kittens.
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Jeannie---------------"Tired and lonely,scared and depressed.Her visions of one daygo racing to next..."

preciso amar as pessoas como se
No houvesse amanh.
We must love as if there was no tomorrow.

Jeannie.Lighter fluid?try Kerosene.
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and yes, a lot of ppl have fun with their first burn. Ithink you will find that lighter fluid burns a lot hotter than any of the fuels you are *supposed* to use. do a search on fuels.It wouldnt have been so hot if you had waved it around a bit (of course, keeping the head of the wand moving slightly behind your hand).If youare still scared by the fire when using normal fuel, try using alcohol. It burns very cold, and i'm SURE you couldnt be afriad of that!Burn on.JoshPS Kittens and fire don't mix, jut ask Sups
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[This message has been edited by [Josh] (edited 03 July 2001).]

97 posts
Location: San Francisco, CA, USA

If the lighter fluid involved here was Zippo or Ronsonol fuel, then you were using naphtha. It's almost exactly equivalent to white gas/Coleman fuel.That is to say, it burns really hot and really bright. You might very well want to try kerosene instead. It's a lot cooler (and I do mean tempreature here, not "niftyness") and less scary. Be advised, however, that it will take noticeably longer than naphtha before it all burns out. If your fire-fingers kept brning for, say, three minutes with the naphtha, they'll go for more like four or even five with kerosene. (And the more you move them around, with any fuel, the faster they'll burn out.)It might also help to look at some of the videos at
, to see how fire fingers normally look.FWIW, I was scared for at least a little of my first burn. This was with poi, and while I wasn't too scared when I'd first lit them and I had these flaming things dangling by chains from my hands, I did start to get a bit twitchy when I was whirling them all around my body. And the first time I went for an over-the-head move, I seriously thought I was gonna die for a moment there.
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I grin now, but at the time, I was a little freaked. I even commented to my friends at the time that I was really glad I'd done lots of practice beforehand, because my body was trembling on a major adrenaline rush... IOW, I was scared shitless, and just wouldn't let myself realize it at the time!Hope that helps.

SupermanBRONZE Member
829 posts
Location: Houston, Texas, USA

Hey Jeannie,think of it like this, if you have been spinning Sticks, you know the inherit danger of them. I have bashed myself numerous times in the face, arms, legs, knuckles, ears, back of the head, in the last 10 months. Of course most of that was when i first began..damn i was wild with those dmn things. I was also scared of hitting myself. I would flinch all the time, and sometimes the flinching is what caused me to get hit. i jacked my self once under my right eye, and drew blood. (i was spinning for about 2 months) i was afraid to pick them up after that. But i got back into it, and just swung with more control and grace. I am glad to say i havent had another "serious" incident since. i dont make that face any more (you know, the im going to get hit at any moment face) because i have learned to control them, i make the POI go where i want them point...what was my point??...oh yeah...Dont be afraid or depressed, because you will shake the fear of the fire, just as i am sure you are beginning to shake the fear of smacking yourself now. I put it in my head that i am controlling the situation, and i will not hit myself. The confidence will override the fear. Youll b ok, we promise. [JOSH] is gonna spot me for my first spark, and i am a tad bit jittery about it when i think about it, but i think its more adrenaline than anything. I respect the POI (especially when theyre on fire) but i dont fear them or my ability to control them. Sort of like a Lion Tamer..i know i am rambling, but i dont want you to feel depressed about your little incident. Also..lighter fluid??? hee hee thats funny [image]">"S"------------------[/image]"We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of the dreams"- Willy Wonka

Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear--not absence of fear.

- Mark Twain

214 posts
Location: Manchester

here is how i made the transistion to fire:i use lamp parrafin. it burns at a low temperature so burns are relatively rare. its cheap and can double up as fual to fire breath with
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i've never heard of cotton wicks. try to use towel (small to start), or small kevlar confident. have a damp towel and a friend handy just in case . oh.. and dont try any moves that your not 99% sure of.hope i could help.--------------------"we are the dreamers. they are the dreampt"

235 posts
Location: Calgary alberta Canada

hey first burn went extreamly well...i had been spinning glowstick and weights for many many moons and for my birthday i got many many fire toys.. when i first started i was very very cautious i was more worries about setting other things on fire not so much myself.. i havent hit myself spinning in along long time. (knock on wood)i made sure my hair was quite soaked and tied up in a bandana and i have many witnessess. i suppose alot of it is beating the mentals in your head that tell you your going to fail... the goal here is to kick them in the ass and become one with the element..this is coming from the crazy hippie witch *lol* youll do fine.. ------------------A Faeries Heart Beats Fierce and Free!!!!!

Teach tolerance, not competition.
Send food, not bombs.

PeleBRONZE Member
the henna lady
6,193 posts
Location: WNY, USA

Hey there...Okay..first of all...towel wicks are cotton CAU, just to let you know.I use a tight weave cotton gauze on all my torches and would attribute the high, hot flame to the fuel. I agree with all who said to use lamp oil/parafin/kerosene. It is a long burn but cooler than lighter fluid which was created for the short high burns required to ignite other things, not necessarily for a continuous burn. Start with small wicks and the aforementioned fuels and you should adjust well to fire.I think that the first ignition is a well underated mindscrew when it comes to fire swinging. Most people, myself included, did not expect the roar, the heat, the pungent smell.....and yes it can be quite intimidating. Remember a few things, keep your toy in constant motion and it will keep the heat from being too much and will help to maintain a controllable flame. Don't lose your cool for that is when accidents can happen. I think by the sounds of it that you handled it well. The net time you light up, light one toy (such as one fire finger or one poi) and get used to it, then work yourself into more when you are comfortable. Son't push yourself too soon or too hard. Fear of the fire will not serve you well to dance with it, working slowly with the fire will help to build that into a healthy respect, which should be everpresent imho.Best to you.------------------Pele Higher, higher burning fire...making music like a choir...

Higher, higher burning fire...making music like a choir
"Oooh look! A pub!" -exclaimed after recovering from a stupid fall
"And for the decadence of art, nothing beats a roaring fire." -TMK

CharlesBRONZE Member
Corporate Circus Arts Entertainer
3,989 posts
Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Pele, you hit it right on the head there...I've been reading through the other posts and thinking, why isn't anyone talking about the noise and the smell? I'd been practising staff for about a week before I lit it (on my own, no-one else around {stupid stupid stupid}). One turn forward and the ROAR of the flame made me drop it and run back a few steps. =) HeHe, must've looked pretty silly... Also please be aware that most of the suggested slow burning fuels do stink a lot, wear old clothes and make sure you are in a well ventilated area. I can hardly even smell kero know, even though I tend to stick to Pegasol now (less stink, more cost). ------------------Charles Dolbel

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now - this might sound like a bunch of wank, but it isnt. this thread is turning into a first timers fear topic..and so I thought I'd share my experience.I HONESTLY cant remember being afraid the first time I twirled fire. I cant even *rememeber* the first time, and I defnitely cant remember ever being afraid of it. The closest I've come to being afraid of it was recent. Learning to catch the helicopter (flat spin plane) throw with a heavy staff made me anxious, cuz I thought that if I stuffed it up, I'd get brained. Practicing 4/5 beat rvs weave is also a bit scary for me, cuz the poi will hit me in the face if I screw it up
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I also got a bit anxious learning doubles cuz my staves were a bit long (long enough to hit yerself in the mellon when your not paying enough attention).but at the beginning? nope. I guess I'd seen a fiar bit of fire twirling, and I learned from a very confident and humble teacher.josh

309 posts
Location: Tampa, Fl

Wow... I definitely remember the first time I lit up! It was not that long ago. I was totally surprised. The sound of the fire was unbelievable. I did get scared actually. I twirled them a bit. Then did a wrap. Then I was in love. I realized the feeling I got when I was that close a magnificent element. For myself, it is special, and I dont anticipate that it will be anything other than special. Just remember that it is not a toy, or a stuffed animal. It is a lifeform, if you give it life. Will breathe with you. Will dance with YOU. Dream on!
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(not meant sarcastically)------------------We are not physical beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a physical experience.~Edgar Cayce


18 posts
Location: Cornwall, England

Well hello just logged on for the first time. what a brilliant site. and yes at the weekend i did fire for the first time. it was a beautiful setting on the beach with the sunrising, lots of smiling faces and reassurance. i lit them and spun them, and just could not believe that sound. it was sooooooooo loud i was too overcome to do anything other than spin them on the side. very heavy aswell. i hace to say yes im quite scared and dont think ill be lighting them until ive practised a little more. im just enjoying glow sticks and dancing at the moment, and getting those strong naomix

Rick aka LokiBRONZE Member
134 posts
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Not much to be said that hasn't been already.I'd like to second something that Pele mentioned. If you lose your nerve while spinning and try to move away from the fire you can throw off the motion of the poi, which is when tangles and singes can happen.Confidence, Jeannie. Trust yourself.
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One good way to achieve that is to become very confident with the basic moves before you light up. So long as you stick to the ones you can do with the practice poi, no problem.Also, getting a little singed isn't that bad, really. It can be unnerving the first time, but most thwacks don't result in fire landing itself on the body, just toasting and moving on.Good luck, good luck, good luck. We're all rootin' for ya.
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Peace, Love, and Fire.-Rick

-Rick aka Loki
oh, man, a signature?... uuh... this is like coming across wet cement... uuh, shoot, I had something clever I was saving... I hope I don't run out of sp

383 posts
Location: Brisbane, Qld, Australia

I practised for almost a week about an hour a day before I lit up ...unlike my performing partner who just lit up the first time (he's somewhat of a natural I suppose ...
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) I only lit up 6 months ago (and 100% sober
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)so I remember super clearly. The only other time I've felt so tingly and bursting is when I was jumping a 5 foot fence on my old horse.I also started with smaller wicks than the ones I use now - even so the roar was deafening and I had huge flocks of butterflies everywhere before I started to spin them. And then I was a trembling mass of adrenalin while I was spinning them - I had to take a moment to remind myself I KNEW how to spin them more than just weaves and circles at my side. The funny thing is - when I did start to whack myself, after jumping like a flash of lightning out of the way a few times, I realised they didn't hurt. And that I wasn't on fire. (Keeping in mind I was wearing thick natural fibres) And that it was kinda fun hitting myself and reassuring myself. In fact I highly recommend (please ensure you have a responsible spotter and a non-flammable fire blanket/extinguisher on hand before you do this) wacking yourself in places that don't hurt just to remind yourself that you won't die if they do hit you
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I needed lots of reminding at the time!

The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you.- B.B.King

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