Posted:Though regular poi can be made from a wide variety of bought and found materials, fire poi demands more from the equipment in order to be safe and secure.
Grip / Handle Though rare, hand injuries can happen should the poi get tangled during armwraps or other attempted tricks. The last thing you as a spinner want is for the nylon strapping to begin to melt into your fingers. Look for grips made of leather or other natural materials, like cotton, aramid or denim. Spinners who enjoy throws often have metal rings.
Chain Here you are looking for strength and reliability. Most commonly used, are chain (heavier but flexible) and cable (light but subject to kinks), though some spinners use a Kevlar or aramid rope (the most expensive option). Generally, Stainless Steel is the preferred material for its heat resistance and durability. Next is nickel-plated steel which also has a high heat resistance. Zinc-plated steel and regular iron is acceptable, though some people stay away from the former because it can flake, and it can release vapours at a high enough temperature (though probably at much lower levels than the fuel itself). Aluminium, brass and copper are not recommended because they are too soft, brittle or unreliable.
Hardware A rule of thumb to keep in mind is that the closer the hardware is to the flame, the better quality of material you should have. If you have a single brass swivel, it is acceptable, as long as you mount it by the handles. Quicklinks and swivels mounted close to the wick should be made of stainless steel or nickel-plated steel. I have not had any personal experience with the use of keyrings / splitrings, but there is a vocal group of poi spinners who argue strongly against their use, claiming that they can and do give out under the strain of frequent use.
Test Strength The strength of your poi is dependent on their weakest link. If you are making your own, the weakest link should hold at least 100 pounds (provides a comfortable margin of safety). Chains and cables are usually the strongest component, and can be rated up to 800lbs or more. Quicklinks can be found at various tests from 100lbs to 500lbs. Swivels are often the weakest hardware component, though some can be had at 400lbs or more.
Many handles are homemade, and these should be particularly well inspected for strength. Aluminium eyelets, cheap rivets and poor sewing can easily lead to failure when you least want it.