Forums > Technical Discussion > Lighting the ground (safely making fire rings)

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Paddyback from the dead...sort of
884 posts
Location: 4341'N 7938'W


Posted:
I've seen this done in a few videos, including Nick's first video (found somewhere on his site).

I presume that it's done by pouring fuel on the ground before the performance and lighting it later on (duuuh). But I've some question regarding the details....

1) What fuel do you use? Any special mixtures? How much gives enough flame?
2) Does the fuel stain pavement? How about granite/sidewalk? Does the fire leave a mark on these surfaces?
3) How fast does it evaporate...what's the window of opportunity? Is it feasable to prep the burn before the performance, then use it as a finale?
4) Along the same lines, does the fuel soak into any kinds of surfaces, making the window of opportunity smaller?

I did all sort of searches but could only find info on body tracing. Can anyone help?

EDIT: thread rename to reflect change of topic later on.

[ 21. July 2003, 01:22: Message edited by: Paddy ]

Bender_the_OffenderGOLD Member
still can't believe it's not butter
6,979 posts
Location: Melbourne, Australia


Posted:
this thread singlehandedly explains crop circles!

Laugh Often, Smile Much, Post lolcats Always


gitaSILVER Member
.:*distracted by shiny things*:.
3,776 posts
Location: brizvegas, Australia


Posted:
bender you are a classic

ubblol

do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and good to eat!

if at first you do succeed, try not to look too astonished!

smile! grin it confuses people!


fNiGOLD Member
master of disaster
3,354 posts
Location: New York, USA


Posted:
i may be confused. but are you trying to do something other than just light the ground in a burnoff circle? cuz if you don't get rid of the excess, and light up, then just make a circle on the ground gives you a nice lil fire ring....

what i'm talking about is
My burnoff circle thingy

i've never had a prob w/colemans and never used anything but

kyrian: I've felt your finger connect with me many times
lou kitten: sneaky little meatball..
ezz: please corrupt me more


Mags The JediGOLD Member
Fool
2,020 posts
Location: Cornwall, UK


Posted:
Hehehe. I just spent about half an hour working out what "XXXXXX" is. I'm such a dumbass. I was worried, because it's not labelled as "XXXXXX" so i didn't know which fuel NOT to use. smile

But i got there in the end. Thanks folks, a most interesting discussion. Won't catch me playing with the super-explosive stuff. biggrin

However, circles of fire do look wicked, and maybe we can come up with a reasonable alternative to "XXXXXX". Rope soaked in paraffin seems like a pretty good idea, but i have no idea how well it'd burn. Times we've lit up bits of ordinary rope to use as poi they've gone out fairly fast and fallen to bits. Maybe the fact that the rope's on the ground and not being spun might help.

How do we feel about burning meths?

"I believe the cost of life is Death and we will all pay that in full. Everything else should be a gift. We paid the cover charge of life, we were born."

Bill Hicks, February 1988


BirdGOLD Member
now available in "advanced"
6,086 posts
Location: Cornwall, United Kingdom


Posted:
moderately off topic, I know,



Meths doesn't give a very bright flame, but is a good solvent to dissolve boric acid in! I would advise that you check the MSDS for it - the properties are different to paraffin!
EDITED_BY: Bird (1091385044)

My state of mind is not yours to define!

There is a very fine line between "hobby" and "mental illness."


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


Posted:
Mags...You can get Kevlar Rope in the HoP Shop.

HoP Posting Guidelines
* Is it the Truth?
* Is it Fair to all concerned?
* Will it build Goodwill and Better Friendships?
* Will it be Beneficial to all concerned?


Singed Piper (formerly Mark1)resident bagpiper
342 posts
Location: Vermont, USA


Posted:
i'm assuming xxxxxx means that explosive and dangerous item that many people use everyday in closed quarters to provide energy for linear motion via combustion translated to linear motion translated to rotational motion and is purchased in america at slightly over 2 dollars a gallon because of the scarcity of hydrocarbons. if I am correct, leave that stuff alone if you want to stay alive. if you want to see the results of misusing this fluid, search for footage of bhuddist monks protesting in vietnam... gruesome stuff that... the vapors can also do scary things like filling pant legs, leading to crispy fried man-bits

Q:What's the difference between the Great Highland Bagpipes and the Northumbrian Pipes?
A:The Great Highland Pipes burn longer.


Mr_JedlyGOLD Member
member
195 posts
Location: Perth, West Australia


Posted:
Well If you use any fuel to light the ground, it's generally a good idea to NOT use this same fuel to spin with...
a good safely precaution follows when playing with new fuel:
put some on the ground. put a flame on it. if it lights, not a good idea to use(in spinning wicks). if it doesn't light, it should be safe.
If fuel lights without a wick then when you spin it around, small drops can fall off & hit the ground & stay alight.
actually just last week some friends were testing a different fuel that lights without a wick & put some on a fire eating stick. (v.small wick on a short pole). they moved it about for abit & a drop fell on his shirt & stayed alight... we quickly padded it out & while doing so, another drop fell on his back & stayed alight. even if the wicks have been spun off, if they were to collide with anything they would leave a patch of fuel where they hit & keep burning at that spot.
if your spinning a staff or poi around with this fuel it's not a good idea.... flaming crowd anyone? eek

We don't stop playing because we grow old,
We grow old because we stop playing.


CodySILVER Member
That guy from Reno
556 posts
Location: Reno, Nevada USA


Posted:
If your spinning fire at Burningman, don't do any ground effects. No walls of fire, fire circles, or burnout tracks. BLM rangers are blowing the NO OPEN FIRE ON THE PLAYA rule way out of proportion and they will ticket you. At least they did last year. Use a spinoff bucket. biggrin

Cody Canon
Controlled Burn, Reno Nevada


Paradox EquationBRONZE Member
newbie
7 posts
Location: Knoxville, Tennessee and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania,...


Posted:
I myself have just started spinning fire, and this thread angers me.

What is this XXXX? Am I to fall prey to some dangerous substance merely because a moderator decides to perpetuate forced ignorance?

This is dangerous. Why does the government and education system do such things as lecture on the effects of alcohol, unsafe sex, pregnancy, addiction to dangerous drugs, etc? To try to make kids do all these things more? NO.

We should have one big thread devoted to every single thing that absolutely, 100% should *NOT* ever be done with fire poi, fire breathing, and other theatrical or artistic uses of fire.

-p.e.

UCOFSILVER Member
Carpal \'Tunnel
15,414 posts
Location: United Kingdom


Posted:
Written by: Mistress Aurora


We used XXXX...





I didnt know Castlemaine XXXX was flameable wink I must try it one day...


Paradox Equation...if you cant work it out... think about what 99.9% of vehicles use for fuel.

anonomatosGOLD Member
enthusiast
389 posts
Location: Utrecht [NL], Netherlands


Posted:
ontopic:

colemans is possible for making a circle of light for a few seconds or so on the ground? but what is colemans? is that pure parraffin or something else??

"Dont know how long, this ones gonna take;
I could fail, but Id rather be a fuckup, than a fake"


Gnarly CraniumSILVER Member
member
186 posts
Location: San Francisco, USA


Posted:
(A suggestion with this XXXXXXX silliness. Maybe the words 'gasoline' and 'petrol' and suchlike should be rigged up to Fire Breathing type warning links, hmmm? Education = safety, hiding information behind Xs doesn't help anybody.)


Written by: Bird


Meths doesn't give a very bright flame, but is a good solvent to dissolve boric acid in! I would advise that you check the MSDS for it - the properties are different to paraffin!



'Meths' can refer to a wide variety of stuff, all quite toxic. Use their base chemical-- ethyl alcohol, without the poisonous methyl alcohol additives, for something much less noxious, though it will burn differently, possibly hotter.


As for what Meenik used to make the circle of flame on the ground in his 1st 'Nick With Fire' video, I found [Old link] a while back explaining:
Written by: Meenik


We used Coleman Camp fuel. It's a great effect, but it's dangerous. Don't try it unless you've got somebody ready to put you out


"Ours is not to question The Head; it is enough to revel in the ubiquitous inanity of The Head, the unwanted proximity of The Head, the unrelenting HellPresence of The Head, indeed the very UNYIELDING IRRELEVANCE of The Head!" --Revelation X


MikeIconGOLD Member
Pooh-Bah
2,109 posts
Location: Philadelphia, PA - USA


Posted:
Written by:

but what is colemans?



Coleman's Camp Fuel is also known as white gas commonly sold in sporting good camping sections. More volatile than paraffin and lighter fluid. Most dangerous for doing this but gives the best effect.

Let's turn those old bridges we crossed into ashes.
We'll blaze a new trail,
and torch the rough patches.

-Me


darkpoetBRONZE Member
Irish
525 posts
Location: Dallas.........ish, USA


Posted:
Written by: Gnarly Cranium



'Meths' can refer to a wide variety of stuff, all quite toxic. Use their base chemical-- ethyl alcohol, without the poisonous methyl alcohol additives, for something much less noxious, though it will burn differently, possibly hotter.




Use Denatured alcohol its easy to come by and if i remember right it doesnt have the additives...hence the "denatured" label
its potent stuff but ive gotten worse burns from it than my burn mix of colemans and parrafin

another thing that works is an engine additive called HEET (to remove water from gasoline)...basically its 100% isopropyl alcohol...and since alcohols absorb water rather quickly avoid keeping a lid off of a large container of it


Written by: Meenik


We used Coleman Camp fuel. It's a great effect, but it's dangerous. Don't try it unless you've got somebody ready to put you out




another name for colemans is naptha...and youve got to be VERY aware of its tendency to start a vapour fire...similar to how ether as a gas will explode...you can quite literally leave a trail of colemans vapour in the air and light it in the right situations...

Jesus saves sinners and redeems them for cash and
prizes

Co-Founder of Keepers of Light

Educate yourself about the Hazards of Fire Breathing STAY SAFE!


StoutBRONZE Member
Pooh-Bah
1,872 posts
Location: Canada


Posted:
Denatured alcohol is actually ethanol, with a little bit of methanol in it to make it undrinkable.

Colemans, or white gas, or naptha,,whatever you want to call it works just fine for the fire on the ground thing. We do this quite often in a parking lot and have never had any accidents,, just be careful not to spin off onto your shoes or pants,,,,that could be ugly.

anonomatosGOLD Member
enthusiast
389 posts
Location: Utrecht [NL], Netherlands


Posted:
There is this 2 page discussion going on what NOT to use...

what works best (or: what is the LEAST dangerous way) to make a ring of fire? parrafin with white gas? parraffin with sawdust? i dunno... someone?

(plz, not a 'danger-this' 'danger-that' discussion again (a) )

smile

"Dont know how long, this ones gonna take;
I could fail, but Id rather be a fuckup, than a fake"


darkpoetBRONZE Member
Irish
525 posts
Location: Dallas.........ish, USA


Posted:
Written by: stout


Denatured alcohol is actually ethanol, with a little bit of methanol in it to make it undrinkable.





ethanal is short for ethyl alcohol...and methanol is short for methyl alcohol...so yeah...its still denatured...

Jesus saves sinners and redeems them for cash and
prizes

Co-Founder of Keepers of Light

Educate yourself about the Hazards of Fire Breathing STAY SAFE!


Gnarly CraniumSILVER Member
member
186 posts
Location: San Francisco, USA


Posted:
'Denatured alcohol' is basically ethyl alcohol, but it's not always straight... just as mentioned it sometimes has methyl in it, which would make it meths, and poisonous. (the meths added make it 'undrinkable' because if you tried to drink it, it might kill you, burning that doesn't seem like a great idea now does it?)

Straight ethyl alcohol or isopropyl alcohol would be much better.

"Ours is not to question The Head; it is enough to revel in the ubiquitous inanity of The Head, the unwanted proximity of The Head, the unrelenting HellPresence of The Head, indeed the very UNYIELDING IRRELEVANCE of The Head!" --Revelation X


Whiffle Squeekaddict
416 posts
Location: Hartford, CT USA


Posted:
first off, props to charles for his excellent sense of ethics, and his resolve to stick to them despite criticism

second off, coleman's works fine on pavement for this, but be warned, it will leave marks on asphalt...

my friend's parents werent too happy about that...

Educate your self in the Hazards of Fire Breathing STAY SAFE!


StoutBRONZE Member
Pooh-Bah
1,872 posts
Location: Canada


Posted:
methanol, ethanol, propanol,,,they're all toxic to some degree but has anyone noticed the price difference between pure ethyl alcohol and denatured ethyl alcohol?? Any suggestions as to why? you got it,,,taxes. Pure ethanol is sold as booze,,,you buy it to drink it whereas denatured alcohol is sold as a laboratory reagent, hence the addition of methanol, maybe a little benzene,, bitrex anybody?? to make it undrinkable.

I'm still wondering what meths are, is this just another term for methanol? or denatured alcohol?

Point is,,none of this stuff is safe, either to drink, breathe in, or burn.

But we're going to do it anyway,,,right? what about the fumes coming off a pair of burning wicks? I see postings concerning the purity of kerosene, like the additives (to make it smell nicer or burn cleaner) are the big evils, but think about it,,you're twirling in the midst of a chemical soup of burning and vapourized hydrocarbons,,,this is not toxic??

As to the XXXX thing,,,where does colemans fuel ( white gas, naphtha,, C5-C9 ) fit in?? it's every bit as flammable and voatile as gasoline, yet I don't see it censored.

Gnarly CraniumSILVER Member
member
186 posts
Location: San Francisco, USA


Posted:
Written by: stout


I'm still wondering what meths are, is this just another term for methanol? or denatured alcohol?



Meths = menthylated spirits = denatured alcohol = ethyl alcohol/ ethanol, with methyl alcohol/methanol additives in some amount.

Written by: stout


Point is,,none of this stuff is safe, either to drink, breathe in, or burn.

But we're going to do it anyway,,,right? what about the fumes coming off a pair of burning wicks? I see postings concerning the purity of kerosene, like the additives (to make it smell nicer or burn cleaner) are the big evils, but think about it,,you're twirling in the midst of a chemical soup of burning and vapourized hydrocarbons,,,this is not toxic??



There's toxic, and then there's toxic. Technically ANYTHING can kill you in sufficient amount. Some things will do it faster than others. Kerosene is definitely toxic, drinking it will kill you. Drinking methyl alcohol, or breathing the fumes, or whatever, will kill you worse and faster.

...And god but it's hard to find any specific, comparative information on this kind of toxicology stuff. Gotta be a chemist and have money for books or subscriptions to fancy shmancy research databases. Been trying to look up something to say whether naptha is more explosive than gasoline or what but can't find a thing. Blah. I give up.

"Ours is not to question The Head; it is enough to revel in the ubiquitous inanity of The Head, the unwanted proximity of The Head, the unrelenting HellPresence of The Head, indeed the very UNYIELDING IRRELEVANCE of The Head!" --Revelation X


Whiffle Squeekaddict
416 posts
Location: Hartford, CT USA


Posted:
ok, ummm, not exactly perfect cause theres no good info on "kerosene" but heres what i found...

According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry

automotive gasoline is regulated at "a maximum level of 890 milligrams of gasoline per cubic meter of air (890 mg/m) for an 8-hour workday, 40-hour workweek"

"fuel oils" defined as "a variety of yellowish to light brown liquid mixtures that come from crude petroleum...Some commonly found fuel oils include kerosene, diesel fuel, jet fuel, range oil, and home heating oil."

these are regulated at "350 milligrams of petroleum distillates per cubic meter of air (350 mg/m) for a 40-hour workweek."

what all the fancy talk boils down to is that you can breath alot more gasoline and come out ok than you can kerosene or lamp fuel...

as for the explosiveness, thats easier...

"There are two explosive limits for any gas or vapor, the lower explosive limit (LEL) and the upper explosive limit (UEL). At concentrations in air below the LEL there is not enough fuel to continue an explosion; at concentrations above the UEL the fuel has displaced so much air that there is not enough oxygen to begin a reaction. "

the explosve limits for kerosene like fuels are .7%-5% (%volume in air)

the explosive limits for gasoline are 1.3%-6.0%

now gasoline seems to be less explosive from these numbers, cause there needs to be more in the air before it explodes...

however...

gasolines vapor pressure at room 20 C is over 400 mmHg

kerosene in its various forms ranges from 2-20 mmHg

so...

at room temp, theres tons of gasoline in the air, making it quite easy for an explosion to occur, much easier than for kerosene or lamp fuel...

woo

hope you guys apreciate all that, it was a bugger to find

Educate your self in the Hazards of Fire Breathing STAY SAFE!


Gnarly CraniumSILVER Member
member
186 posts
Location: San Francisco, USA


Posted:
Written by: Whiffle Squeek



"fuel oils" defined as "a variety of yellowish to light brown liquid mixtures that come from crude petroleum...Some commonly found fuel oils include kerosene, diesel fuel, jet fuel, range oil, and home heating oil."


Uh, grouping kero in with jet fuel is a little crazy...







Written by: Whiffle Squeek

at room temp, theres tons of gasoline in the air, making it quite easy for an explosion to occur, much easier than for kerosene or lamp fuel...


That's impossible.



*edit* ...see this is what happens when you're up late and you have the sort of brain that reads words in groups-- 'kerosene' and 'gasoline' were showing directly above each other on my screen and I swapped them thinking they were in a different order in the post. TWICE. Maybe even three times.
EDITED_BY: Gnarly Cranium (1109873588)

"Ours is not to question The Head; it is enough to revel in the ubiquitous inanity of The Head, the unwanted proximity of The Head, the unrelenting HellPresence of The Head, indeed the very UNYIELDING IRRELEVANCE of The Head!" --Revelation X


Whiffle Squeekaddict
416 posts
Location: Hartford, CT USA


Posted:
but i just said that gasoline explodes easier...

didnt i?

the explosion limit numbers just say how much you have to have in the air for an explosion...

and vapor pressure tells you how much gas a liquid puts into the air...

so it takes a lot of gasoline in the air to cause an explosion, but at room temperature THERE IS a lot of gasoline as a vapor

meaning it explodes really really easily

and kerosene doesnt...

were in agreement...

and didnt you just ask for specific comparative information?


redface

Educate your self in the Hazards of Fire Breathing STAY SAFE!


Gnarly CraniumSILVER Member
member
186 posts
Location: San Francisco, USA


Posted:
*facepalm* My brain switched your sentences around. It was 1am. Nevermind. rolleyes

"Ours is not to question The Head; it is enough to revel in the ubiquitous inanity of The Head, the unwanted proximity of The Head, the unrelenting HellPresence of The Head, indeed the very UNYIELDING IRRELEVANCE of The Head!" --Revelation X


StoutBRONZE Member
Pooh-Bah
1,872 posts
Location: Canada


Posted:
Ok,,,after 2 hours of research,,I give up.

I can't find any useful information on the volatility of gasoline, kerosene, or colemans fuel. Well I have but it's all contradictory. For instance the msds for colemans posted on this site says the vapour pressure is 518 mm Hg,,,,but the msds I just went out and picked up from my fuel supplier lists the vapour pressure as 19.7kPa ( 148 mm Hg) and the Canadian government site I found listing the standards for volatility of gasoline says 107,,,,,,107 WHAT??? they don't say.

So based on personal experience, I still say Colemans ( I use this stuff called isol1520,,btw,,,, looks like colemans, smells like colemans......made in Canada, but has a picture of a coleman stove on the tin) is just as dangerous as gasoline.

As for the warnings on the side of the tin,," vapours can be ignited from ignition sources many feet away..." I don't see how anything with these sorts of warnings can be considered safer that gasoline.

Kerosene ( including jet fuel ) is alot safer, just not as dramatic for making flaming circles on the ground.

Gnarly CraniumSILVER Member
member
186 posts
Location: San Francisco, USA


Posted:
I think I spent about 2 hours looking it up too-- and it seriously melted my brain, as can be clearly seen. It's CRAZY to me that specific, clear information on this stuff isn't readily available. All the stuff I found was really contradictory too, and nothing at all made comparisons.... honestly, by those MSDS sheets, nitroglycerin and kero don't sound too different.



Jet fuel is safer in that it has a high ignition temperature-- you could probably dunk something flaming in it and put it out, whereas at a normal gas station a cigarette could potentially get you killed. The thing is though once it DOES go off... it burns very, very hot. There is a ton of energy packed into that stuff, that's why planes make such massive booms when they crash.

"Ours is not to question The Head; it is enough to revel in the ubiquitous inanity of The Head, the unwanted proximity of The Head, the unrelenting HellPresence of The Head, indeed the very UNYIELDING IRRELEVANCE of The Head!" --Revelation X


ImmortalAngelSILVER Member
Scientist!
578 posts
Location: Waterloo, Ontario, Canada


Posted:
ummm, I'm gonna try and clear up a few things here that have been learned from the hundreds/thousands of years of experience that HoP members have all had with fuels.

Jet Fuel (brand name Jet A), is 100% pure kerosene (or at least, is made as such, it could have added chemicals along the way).

The next purest kerosene you can get is the Ultra Pure Lamp Oil, although it has more additives to make it less smokey indoors and smell nicer.

After that is regular Lamp Oil, a bit more smoky, and a bit less smell nice chemicals.

After that is your Kerosene (with K1 filters) that you can buy in stores for small heaters. Lots of smoke and lots of fumes.

After that is the stuff you can get at gas pumps, just about as crude as you can get it (and cheap, but is it really worth it?)

Secondly,
Gasoline is INCREDIBLY volatile and explosive. Alot more so than Coleman's fule.
Lighter Fluid is also incredibly volatile as it is mostly Naptha so it lights easily (say, from a flint spark?)
Colemans or White Gas is slightly less volatile, but still very dangerous.
Alcohol I believe, comes next in volatility?
After that is the least dangerous fuel in regards to blowing up with Kerosene/Parafin/Lamp Oil.

You should ALWAYS keep your fuel and dipping area ropped off and watched by a safety at all times, and it should have some sort of a hardwall inbetween it and your spinning area.
Just because it is less dangerous, it does not mean it is not dangerous at all. You have to remember alot of the glamour that does come from spinning fire is because of what a powerful force it is. From the earliest instances of man, fire has been feared by humans and animals alike, and to do some of the things done in the fire arts with it, increases the potential for disaster exponentially.
If you guys have any doubts to what fire and fuel can do, look at the constant forest fires that run out of control, or the house fires that kill hundreds and ruin millions worth of property.

On a final note, kero burns cooler than gas when lit on fire, but in an internal combustion engine (such as a jet engine or turbine) it burns MUCH hotter, as it is being forced to explode (think of spitting atoms. Takes a bit of effort, but incredibly powerful when it happens).

Educate your self in the Hazards of Fire Breathing <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> STAY SAFE! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/hug.gif" alt="" />


TeeJaymember
75 posts
Location: Malaeimi, Am. Samoa


Posted:
Hey all.........

We work with Samoan fireknife dancers - and we always use Colemans.
Let me explain - fireknife dancers work in lavalavas - very short loin clothes. Since I'm a mom of three of them , I usually like to get the clothes firetreated - otherwise we just wet them a little.
A Really big thing with our dancers is the wall of fire - it doesn't get any extra point but I gues it's like a pissing contest - they just MUST do it.
What we have found out (and you can see the resulting burn on our website) is that white gas takes 3 second before it burns you.
The burn pictured on the website - which didn't even blister, was the result of white gas imprinted on his arm which he refused to put out - it burned itself out.
White gas requires a lot of oxygen and is very easy to put out - it's been many a time we've had dancers realize they had spot off fuel burning on themselves - they simply drop the knife and pat it out. We've never had to step in with a towel and have never had a major injury.
On the other hand - the oil from light fluid, kero, etc. doesn't easily disperse, it WILL continue to burn you . Of course - there are fireknife dancers from Western Samoa who continue to use gasoline - but you never see very old ones.............

Teejay

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