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Forums > Technical Discussion > Fire eating torch construction

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adeathlyaura
GOLD Member since Apr 2011

adeathlyaura

The Poi Spinning Undead
Location: Austin, Texas, United States

Total posts: 173
Posted:Okay, so I've been eating fire for about six months now and have never had any problems. No injuries or anything and I've been pretty cautious with my practice. However, a few days ago I finally learned the dragon's breath and tonight when I swiped my lips over the torch, it pulled it off! Literally, I had a flaming torch head fall into my face. Luckily, I wasn't hurt and I have no marks from it. It didn't even hurt and so I kind of laughed afterwards (so I didn't alarm the people watching), but truthfully, I was terrified!

I'm thinking I seriously need to make my torches more durable somehow. Usually, I dip bbq skewers in white Elmer's glue and wrap Kevlar very tightly around the skewer, while stopping every now and again to add more glue. I then sew the Kevlar together with Kevlar thread and to finish it off I use more glue to seal it. After all that is done, I use a lighter to harden the glue. I've never had a problem with this method before, but after tonight, I'm uncomfortable making them like this now.

How are fire eating torches usually made? I can't screw the heads onto anything as hot metal in my mouth would be extremely unpleasant. I'm thinking I might just use a hot glue gun instead of the Elmer's glue, but if anyone has any advice for me, it would really be appreciated. I'm not going to be eating fire anymore until I figure something out.


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ElectricBlue
GOLD Member since Feb 2002

ElectricBlue

Now with extra strawberries
Location: Canberra

Total posts: 810
Posted:I have not made them my self but i have seen people make them out of BBQ skewers, i think they bent over the end of the skewer right around so that the wick had some thing to hold on to.

I {Heart} hand me downs and spinning in the snow.<br /><br />

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ShadowlessTyger
DIAMOND Member since Jan 2011

ShadowlessTyger

Flow Artist
Location: USA

Total posts: 67
Posted:ElectricBlue is right, if you are going to use BBQ skewers, you need to bend a loop in the end.

Do NOT use hot glue or any other ThermoSet Adhesive! I'm not going to chemically explain this, as it should be pretty obvious.

Other tips: If using Kevlar, slide the wick through the bend, or loop about 3/4 of the length of the wick.
HOP does it this way.

BearClaw takes a wooden dowel, slides a thin copper tube slides that over the end, wraps the Kevlar over and around, then screws it in place.

Depending on what you get from Trick Concepts, the do about the same.

Even better is to put a small 90 degree tooth bend then a larger bend that will cover the wick. Fold the wick, (Where depends on a lot of things), then slide the wick doubled over under the bend and clamp it down with the tooth bend sticking into it. If done right, you can then spiral wrap the Kevlar with more wick on the side without the bend. This is sort of hard to explain, but for flourishes, it balances the torch about the axis. That's the only thing I don't like about HOP's eating torches; they are off centered and wobbly.
To balance further, you can bend the head toward the center.
This also doesn't require glue, thus allowing you to replace the head. (If you have a handle you really like)
If you really want, or you're just a craftsman, use rope wick and tie a knot. An tiny Isis knot through a full loop in the wire is fully secure and really pretty.

Use Kevar thread. (Obvious)

If using cotton balls, I recommend sticking the wire/skewer through the cotton ball transversely through it, not axially, You'll learn that it is easier to get a skewer through a cotton ball one way, but that also means that it's easier to rip off.

In term's of glue, Elmer's white glues is good, but Elmer's wood glue is better, the yellow, slow setting wood glue works the best. It's runnier and has more time to seep into the weave of the wick.
Or I know a lot of people who just buy the self adhesive K1 wick from Fire Mecca.

I use the double ended skewers, put 3-4 cotton balls in the ends, bend the tips in, then sew them so they cover all the exposed metal.

Don't forget to knot often! This goes for any sewn wick. I recommend tying a knot at least every 3 stitches.

Careful on with BBQ skewers you use, try to find non-plated stainless steel. Plating can come off, normal steel rusts, and steel has the lowest heat capacity of the strong cheap metals.

Other methods:
For those who do it, it is possible and surprisingly easy to use the sliding off wick to your advantage.
One can take a cotton ball (NO FUEL) and when lit on fire, just stick it in you mouth and close. For dramatic effect, pretend to chew swallow and wash it down. (You're spitting the cotton ball back out when "taking a drink".
This can be done with a single cotton ball just stuck on the tip of a skewer.

If you have one cotton ball at the base of the head, you can slide the burning CB down the shaft then extinguish it with a hand extinguish where the metal is slightly cooler.

Other Ideas:
For those that know fire magic, use it. Not just fire magic, smoke magic too.
Same goes with Zippo tricks.

Sorry for kind of getting carried away, just adding in info as it popped in my head.

Hopefully this helps.

EDITED_BY: ShadowlessTyger (1324401156)


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adeathlyaura
GOLD Member since Apr 2011

adeathlyaura

The Poi Spinning Undead
Location: Austin, Texas, United States

Total posts: 173
Posted:Heh. I should have realized that. I'm a little bit ashamed right now, and yes, it is very obvious.

I'm going to buy a big packet of barbeque skewers and experiment a bit with the construction. I really appreciate you taking the time to type all of that out. Thank you. smile
I'll be sure to remember to knot the thread a lot more often than I do. I was doing two knots per head (once at the beginning and another at the end).

How long do your cotton ball fire heads last? I use Kevlar and these last a long time. Before that, I was using cotton from cut up cotton rags. These lasted about two or three weeks, depending on my usage.

I'm interested in the fire and smoke magic you mentioned. Do you know of any websites that have any information on this? I googled smoke magic, but there wasn't much on that. I did find a little bit of information on fire magic though.

Feel free to get carried away more often. tongue2 It was very helpful.


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ShadowlessTyger
DIAMOND Member since Jan 2011

ShadowlessTyger

Flow Artist
Location: USA

Total posts: 67
Posted:The cotton ball ones don't last nearly as long, but it allows for more things in terms of other tricks. If you only let them burn for about 30 seconds at a time, the last about 40 burns. You can use them longer but they begin to fall apart and they are so quick and cheap to make, that you might as well just put on a new head.

In terms of fire and smoke magic, I learned from friends. A lot of the things get pretty dangerous. The best person to look up for it would be Brian Brushwood. He also wrote the professional's guide to fire eating. For Zippo tricks, look up 50 ways to rock a lighter.

A few things that have become staples in my routines besides just eating and fleshing:
Flourishes. It's amazing how much more skilled you look just by adding things in you do with chopsticks and pens when you're bored. Pen spinning tricks work well.
Theatrics. Small gags like palming a cotton ball and pretending to pull off the fire and eating it will get people to sit and stare, rather than just go "oh, so that's what it is".
Showmanship. Pace and build your routines. Fire eating is usually first up in shows anyway, but it you can make it look much more impressive by building up with patter. Don't forget to EMPHASIZE THE DANGER!

In terms of smoke magic, I found most of the info in old magic books. The spread of the phrase "smoke and mirrors" kinda put off magicians from using either. I like producing smoke randomly in places that people know smoke can't come from. Same with fire. Fire thumb tips, fire wallets, fire shoes, extinguishing with one hand and producing smoke from the other gets great reactions and give you an even more mysterious appearance.
Newer stuff tends to be heavily gimmicked, but there are a lot of old things that can be done completely impromptu.
I know people who could do an entire routine with just a book of matches.

Sadly this is kind of a small field, since magicians don't do a lot with fire, and fire performers don't do much with magic. You really need to dive deep into both worlds. If there are any specific questions, please ask. I'm trying to be as helpful as possible as I have tons of knowledge in both areas, and little time to practice myself.


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