Forums > Technical Discussion > chemicals to extinguish fire props during a performance

Login/Join to Participate

automaticforthepeopleGOLD Member
Obama supporter
32 posts
Location: Boston, Mass, USA

First off, a sincere apology if this has been posted. My HoP searches on this subject have been fruitless.

I am looking for a type of chemical or substance to have in an open can. During a performance, I would be able to simply wave a flaming poi over this open can, and it would instantly extinguish the flame. Ideally the wicks would not be damaged by this chemical.

This would make it easier for me to switch fire props duing a song (as opposed to passing them off to a fire safety, and having to fetch a new prop).

I am not a chemist, and this substance might not exist (or may be too toxic and/or expensive to be practical).

Thank you all in advance for your help.


"The storm it came up strong,
and shook the trees,
and blew away our fear."

-R.E.M. "Half a World Away"

MotleyGOLD Member
434 posts
Location: UK

Sometimes when its very misty/cold/humid fire poi burn all the available oxygen in the air immediately around them and spontaneously go out.

If you could recreate this effect with some consistency it might be what your looking for. I guess something like a container of dry ice might work if the air was still enough and you got a large enough area of 02-less air around the container. I suspect it might be difficult to do it with consistency though. Failing that a box filled with CO2 from a canister would work, although wouldnt recreate your desired effect of waving the poi over a container and them going out.

GL keep us posted biggrin

Fire_MooseSILVER Member
Elusive and Bearded
3,597 posts
Location: Scottsdale, AZ, USA

As many have said, i think dry ice will be your best substance. On another note, you may want to try getting a metal bax with a nice lid that you can toss yer toys into and close to get them to go out.


Owned by Mynci!

DurbsBRONZE Member
Classically British
5,688 posts
Location: Epsom, Surrey, England

Well...there is a gas which eats oxygen, it's what they use in labs/offices where they can't have sprinklers - but I doubt it's readily available as it tends to make people die from suffocation...
Can't remember the name of it either - haly-something?

You basically need a way to starve the props of oxygen safely - water isn't suitable as it'll mess your wicks about, fuel (paraffin or less-volatile fuels) do work but there's just no way you'd get it past a health and safety check. Plus, if you don't smother the wick you're gonna be in trouble wink
If you're quick - a quick water dunk mightn't be too bad, as residual heat would steam some of it out and you won't be leaving it in the water. If there's enough fuel left on the wick it will help to repel the water and stop it seaping further into the wick.

Hrrrm... I'm not sure about dry-ice. Isn't it liquid hydrogen? How flammable is hydrogen once it's up to temperature?

Burner of Toast
Spinner of poi
Slacker of enormous magnitude

Dry Ice is frozen carbon dioxide. I don't know if it would do a lot of good to your wicks when holding/submerging them over a -78.5 degree chemical... Even if the kevlar was good with it, the metal would definatly not be after a few repeated attempts. Heating something up then suddenly cooling it is very bad for everything!

MotleyGOLD Member
434 posts
Location: UK

Dry ice is frozen CO2 and is perfectly safe providing you dont handle it (its pretty cold). The idea would be not to place the wicks direcly into the dry ice but to starve the wicks of oxygen, thus the actual extremes of temperature wouldnt be that high, providing you could create a large enough O2-less area around the wicks for it to work. Same principle as the box of CO2 gas, which is pretty easy to get hold of too (soda stream canisters or fire extinguishers - though of couse not the same one your using as safety). Any other inert gas would also work, e.g. nitrogen but would be more difficult to get hold of. liquid nitrogen would be too dangerous, dont even go there (its way too cold and can cause burns -200C or so).

Durbs, hydrogen is indeed a very bad idea, the Hindenburg was filled with hydrogen...
EDITED_BY: Motley (1206617782)

MotleyGOLD Member
434 posts
Location: UK

 Written by :Durbs

Well...there is a gas which eats oxygen, it's what they use in labs/offices where they can't have sprinklers - but I doubt it's readily available as it tends to make people die from suffocation...
Can't remember the name of it either - haly-something?

I think you mean Halon, its not used much anymore I dont think because it depletes ozone.

happyinmotionSILVER Member
42 posts
Location: New Zealand

Dry ice in a container is definitely the way to go. It'll fill the airspace in the container with carbon dioxide, no oxygen so the flame should go out straight away. And it's only gas, so it won't cool your kit down that rapidly.

It's pretty safe stuff unless you hold it against your flesh for a while. I've been putting it in drinks for that bubbling mist effect for years.

-sandy-BRONZE Member
old hand
716 posts
Location: Bristol, United Kingdom

The dry ice bucket sounds like a good idea. We used a CO2 fire extinguiser for a little while for the same reason (to try and speed up prop swaps) but found that a fire safety officer who knows whats going on is much more practical.

A fire safety can take your lit prop off you and hand you the next one already lit so the only time it takes to switch is walking to the back of the stage. Plus the obvious safety advantages of having someone watching your back while you are performing.

"Don't do it naked!"

the_mods_stole_my_nameSILVER Member
travelling without moving
1,286 posts
Location: Maghull, Liverpool, United Kingdom

You could always try argon, its readily available as it's used in welding, i use the stuff every day. The glory of argon, is that it's inert and heavier than air, so if you were to fill a container full of it, it should stay put for a fair while, and not just float off.

Heilige Scheie, Batman kommt!

Reality is just a state of mind which occurs through a lack of lsd

XxX owned by devilsarmy XxX


FearpigSILVER Member
member - tee hee "member"
279 posts
Location: Bethnal Green, London, England (UK)

If my chemistry is right and its been a few years, any of the group 18 elements would suffice... the further down the group you go the more unstable/expensive they become.

You could even use helium but its lighter than air so would disperse unless you inverted the bucket over your head, filled it with helium and did a stall into the bucket to put them out! Helium also has a bad reputation when it comes to fire (Hindenburg!) although some chemists would argue that point!

Note to self - no more beer!

"Whats wrong with the cat?" - Mrs Schrdinger

[noodles]*Property of Pigeon Wigeon*
893 posts
Location: Locked In Pigeons Chimney

Durbs, I think you mean Halon. It's featured in Terminator 2 when they are in the cyberdyne office, and they say films don't teach you anything smile

Could somebody stop the room please... I'd like to get off

HOP Newsletter
Sign up to get the latest on sales, new releases and more...