13 posts

Hi all. Just joined the forums, glad to be here.

Three months ago I decided that I wanted to take up the fine art of Fire Breathing. Don't know why...couldn't tell ya! But I think it hade something to do with my love of wilderness survival. The subject has always fascinated me. I've studied it since I was a child. One of the many techniques that I have perfected in these arts is that of fire starting. There is more than a hundred different ways to start a fire using the materials that are around you and I know and have practiced every one of them. One technique that I have mastered has earned me the name "Dragon Breath" from my family and friends. So I figured...hey, why not develope a real dragon's breath? And off I went!

I read everything that I could get my hands on pertaining to fire breathing. After two weeks of extensive research into the subject I was standing in my back yard blowing water from my mouth. Perfecting the aspiration technique. Looking like a whale on crack. Every webpage and book I read on the subject suggested using water to practice aspiration. What this material failed to mention is what the practice does to your ear canals and the inner lining of your throat. Intense pressure exerted in these areas tend to cause infections in some individuals. Especially individuals who don't know what the heck their doing! Five days of daily practice put me at the doctors office.

Diagnosis? Inner ear infection and a sore throat that had me up at night begging for mercy! It took me a week to recover. I spent the time making a few really nice torches and studying the various fuels of the art. From the very beginning the fuels terrified me. Most of them are highly toxic and contain ingredients that will all but eat you alive if you swallow them. They erode the enamel of your teeth and lesson your gums' ability to fight infection. Alcohol fuels are explosive and uncontrollable. And their wasn't no friggin way I was even going to think about putting gasoline in my mouth! The more I searched for a safer fuel the closer I came to the conclusion that there was none. Plain and simple. Factor all of this in with my $300 medical bill and I was reconsidering my new found hobby. But I said what the heck. Don't be a whimp! Get back on that horse and ride! Ride like the wind!

Month two...two weeks in...another ear infection, another killer soar throat and, this time, a nice sinus infection to go along with it. You see, I had learned from my first mistake and decided to change the way that I was aspirating the water. It worked. The new technique put less stress on my ear canals, instead transferring it all straight into my sinuses. Now, the ear canals, sinus cavities and throat are all inner connected. Anyone with a five year old can tell you that. An infection in one can lead to infections in the others in some individuals. Especially individuals who don't know what the heck their doing!!! The sinus infection inflammed my previous ear infection, which in turn inflammed my throat agian. That word..."Inflammed" Quite the irony, wouldn't you say?

So, another trip to the doctor, another medical bill, and another two weeks of recovery. This time I decided to make yet another change. Don't know why....couldn't tell ya! But I figured that if I was going to get ill everytime I blew a liquid passed my lips, then why not try the real deal. I had already collected a number of different fuels to try out. I had four really nice torches made up. So, why not just give it a try? What will it hurt, I thought to myself.....BIG MISTAKE! HELLO! HUGE FRIGGIN MISTAKE!!!

I swallowed the crap! Yup! Swallowed it. I had become so comfortable with the water. I knew the water wouldn't hurt me so I never really took into account things like stepping away from the aspirated liquid before you breath or blocking the back of your troat to keep from swallowing it. You know, things that become important when you decide to put a shot of poison in your mouth!

So let's add this up. I have two doctor visits under my belt. One emergency room visit, where I had the pleasure of having my stomach pumped. Oh, and trying my best to explain how the "BEEP" I managed to ingest lamp oil. I've suffered illneses that I have never suffered before in my life at the cost of just over a $1000. I've lost a week of work, nearly lost my job, and have managed to freak out my family, friends and cohorts. Furthuremore, I have enough flammable solutions in my basement to fuel a Boeing 747 into outer space. And I still ain't breathed no fire!!!

The really interesting aspect of this art, is that the fire in fire breathing seems to be the least that you have to worry about. The technique itself is a menace. Never once did I fear the thought of a huge ball of fire burning less than five inches from my face. Never once did I fear a "blowback" or inhalation. It was the technique itself that "burned" me in the end.

My advice for those considering taking up this hobby, is to find a trained professional in the art. DIY fire breathing ain't the way to go! Consider what you are about to get yourself into, and then consider something else.

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

MRC is right.

There are full write ups on the fuels, on the techniques (including wiping the face wink ) and all of that in this site.
Some of it is in the link that aston put up. Doc has an interesting story on pg 3(or so) on that link of someone who was suffering severe ARDS from fire breathing with alcohol.

It also links to what causes ARDS.

And it all goes back to, it's not what you swallow, it's what you inhale.
Sure you *can* swallow oils, starches, alcohol but the fact remains the body isn't made to inhale them. And we do, we will, when fire breathing. We simply can't create a cloud and not breathe any of it in.

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

willworkforfoodjnrSILVER Member
Hunting robot foxes
1,046 posts
Location: Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, England (UK)

I just want to add to this thread after our experience this Saturday night.

We were doing a fire show outside a club, standard stuff: 2hrs of freeform spinning and breathing to entertain the queuing masses. Sheltered location with low breeze. We had a constant lighting flame running so inspect for wind direction. About 90mins in Cam made a tower breathe just as a gust of wind blew in from the other direction. Luckily he was breathing upwards so did not ingest any fuel, but the blowback went straight into his face. Hes now left with superficial burns, the worst of which were to the back of his right eyelid (hes got no lashes left at all).

I've been performing with Cam for years and hes experienced and professional but we all agreed that he was lucky it wasn't MUCH MUCH worse, if his head had been at a slightly different angle, or his eyes open we'd not have been finishing the show (he sat out obviously), we'd have been straight to the emergency room.


Working hard to be a wandering hippie layabout. Ten years down, five to go!

2 posts

I work in egypt as a fire performer, My main skill is Eating but can breathe too although getting the right fuel here is very difficult could you tell me just how dangerous alcohol is comared to fuel and why an answer would be very appreciated

SpinnerofDetroitGOLD Member
All High Dude, Ruler of What You Want
2,280 posts
Location: Trenton, MI, USA

Alcohol is much more volatile than paraffin. It has a much lower flash point, and all that meaning not only will it be much more likely to backtrack to your face because of the volatility, but even more so because of the flash point making it easier to be lit. It will catch on fire if it is on your face, paraffin won't. And any alcohol consumed as well as fumes breathed will cause you to become intoxicated and mess up. And you WILL ingest some because it gets in your spit.

The only luck is bad luck.

Shut up before I stall my poi up your ass grin

2 posts

Thankyou, that is very helpful. I try to avoid breathing if I can because as we all know here it is extremely dangerous. I wont be using alcohol im just going to stick to eating and my other toys, Is anyone here familiar with the Zip poi? one of my colleagues is very good at it and I believe it is quite a new toy?

Jeffery795SILVER Member
28 posts
Location: Albury, NSW, Australia.

Mate, Kerosene/parrifin.

You Lost The Game.

1 post

gee wiz... i have been breathing for a month now but i waited till someone taught me how. noone should try it without a guide! I was interested in the remark about wiping up. im looking for a good rag that i can hold in my hand while i hold my oil bottle too. got any good ideas for fabrics? shammy?

dane_millsSILVER Member
1 post
Location: USA

so if none of you will teach anyone, who is going to teach the next generation of performers?

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

Good question. My own personal response, is that an internet forum is exactly the wrong place to learn something like this, in the same way that skydiving or mountain-climbing just aren't suitable for forum-based learning.

Does that make sense?

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ThelemicPotterSILVER Member
29 posts
Location: Buffalo NY, USA

Agreed. you learn fire breathing the old fashioned way. You find a teacher who shows you how to do it in person. Not everything can be instantly downloaded and copied.

Go to WildFire Retreat or some other conference and attend classes on it. That's how I learned.

I would NEVER tell a person "how to fire breath", give them equipment, and send them on their way. Those are hands on lessons you don't mess around with.

crimheadSILVER Member
15 posts

Personally I learned to eat fire from a book called Fire Magic (by Clettis V. Musson, published first in 1952). The book was reasonably thorough on short term safety (kind of lacking on long term health maintaintence though).

While the author describes breathing in detail, I personally never got past the stage of practicing with water - it just seemed too risky (and wickedly disgusting). I later learned to blow fire balls with powdered fuel.

Nowadays I agree that at the very least a video tutorial is in order - I imagine these are readily available at magicians supply shops which are also easy to find now.

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