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10 minute trash/garbage/bin bag hot air balloons

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Rain fire from the sky with this mockery of a Chinese balloon!

This instructable requires:

- A couple of meters of incredibly thin wire.
- Cheapest trash bag/bin bag liner you can find (these are the sort of bags bin men hate as they split if you look at them funny)
- A couple of balls of cotton wool
- Sellotape
- Methylated Spirits (Denatured alcohol)
- A match
- Cotton for a tether/anchor
 

"The story goes that in the 2nd century BC someone made an experimental hot-air balloon out of an empty eggshell.  He emptied the egg white and yolk from a hole in the shell, and put a piece of burning wormwood inside the shell.  As the air inside the shell was warmed, the eggshell was lifted by the wind and rose in the air."

"According to historical records the inventor of the hot-air balloon was Zhuge Liang (181-234) a noted politician and strategist of the Three Kingdoms Period"

Quote source: http://tinyurl.com/ykezu7n

I'm not a man who likes fussing around with tissue paper making beautiful flying masterpieces perhaps adorned with calligraphy.  I'm a man who looks under the kitchen sink to find something to set fire to.  Most of this stuff you'll find either under your sink or in your tool box.

WARNING

The balloons will rise gently in the air and if you don't hold on, they'll go a long, long way.  We do these at our local scout troop grounds which is incidentally next to an airport and I suspect they could probably do a fair bit of damage if they come into contact with planes.  The last set we did were visible for about three miles away before they plunged into the sea.  A friend of mine whom happened to be on the beach at the time put two and two together and rang me shortly after saying "Have you been setting fire to bin bags and releasing them into the skies?"

Similarly if you're in a rural location apparently if these land in a field they can be ingested by livestock and the copper wire can damage their stomachs and throats - so be responsible and keep hold of them if you can.

Some people have said that they might even catch on buildings/trees/dried grass etc if released.  Use your common sense, if you're in a very built up area don't release them.

Keep a bucket of water handy to put out the burner if you're not releasing them or it accidentally catches fire (always a risk)
 

 
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free scout10 months ago
i'll give this a go with my scouts tomorrow night. the cotton wool ingredient is anice touch. thanks for sharing. yis.
Yeah, that source of heat is too strong (I think). It could very easely burn throught the bag. Other that that, it's a great instructable and it looks realy fun. I might try it sometimes.
tim_n (author)  Instructable Maker2 years ago
It can, but generally it works fine and the cooling from the outside air keeps it cool enough that the bag doesn't melt through. It's a trick getting a big enough bag which is thin enough.
_macgyver_3 years ago
it dident work for me :(
tim_n (author)  _macgyver_2 years ago
You may need a thinner wire. It really needs to be very thin!
atamico3 years ago
in my country is not manufactured garbage bags with the heat resistance. That is, the bag of garbage in a state of meltdown. Some other way?
tim_n (author)  atamico2 years ago
The flame shouldn't touch the bag, but inflate it. The hot air won't melt it.

If you do it wrong, the bag does catch fire.
This worked really well!!! I didint put the ring on the bag to make it lighter just the other piece of wire for the fire.
Treknology2 years ago
If you want something startling:

1. Load a backyard, child's chemical rocket with "space blankets" instead of parachutes.
2. Launch normally.
3. After those super-thin foil coated plastic "blankets" deploy, time how long it takes for military jets to turn up investigating a very sudden radar reading.
Could you cut the handles off?
clax12272 years ago
What rank are you?, I'm first class
dickebk2 years ago
Thank you for this well explained tutorial. I was wondering if one could cut open the bag and maybe put aluminum foil all over it and around the outer lip so that it would be less likely to catch fire and then re- tape that. I'm thinking the foil is still light in weight. OR is there some kind of anti- flammable retardent spray that might not add weight? Just wondering if there were other ways to keep it from burning up.
amando962 years ago
I just cello taped 6 big bin bags together, it's over 6m long, going to try and use the sun as a source of heat.
CodeKid10013 years ago
My dad would only let me do it on a smaller scale. I used a publix bag and one cotton ball. the whole thing melted!
use a produce bag from the super market they are long and skinny, they are thinner, and longer so the heat is farther away from the plastic
Mottr3 years ago
nice, i would love to see that scaled 10 times bigger
Lance Mt.4 years ago
 Hahaha, as bad as this would end, what would a penny stove balloon end out like?
just mike4 years ago
Besides the stating the obvious risks that you have already considered. I'll try to leave something constructive. you can try heating it on the ground by holding it over a flame like a weed burner or a propane camp stove. and just let it go when it has sufficient lift. it might not go as high but we're flying trash bags here not trying to set altitude records. still a good demo of a hot air balloon without the risk of sending burning objects aloft. A ticket from the fire marshal can make you feel pretty bad too, at least dead live stock it delicious.
KIDS - DON NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!!!!

We used to make something similar as kids that we called "UFOs" as they glowed an eerie purple color.

We used the super-thin wrapping bags that are placed over dry-cleaned clothes and we used "Sterno" canned heat for the heat source which gave off the purple glow which reflected like mad off of all the crinkles in the clear bag.  We used drinking straws inserted into one another to form a "cross" for the bottom of the bag and to glue a jar lid (center of the cross) which held the sterno.

We set them off at night during the summer in the middle of the huge housing development where I grew up.  Many a beer-filled parent sitting out on the patio and many a young camping-out crew were scared to death when seeing this purple demon drift over head.  And yes, it is a small miracle we never set a house on fire.

www.theruralindependent.com/forum/index.php
vadios4 years ago
A very good instructable. The only thing I'd change - the source of heat, I mean the flame is too strong and the baloon can burn. 
tim_n (author) 4 years ago
FYI we tried taping a single piece of cotton to the top of the bag as per kitemans suggestion and it does indeed work.  When it reaches the length of the cotton the bag flips over and plumets back to earth.

Careful though as it may melt the bag.
Kiteman doesn't clearly read articles as he didn't read mine and made an ignorant comment as well. He just likes to feel wanted and accepted.
I think somebody's jealousssss.
:D
Kiteman4 years ago
A point on safety - you should try and keep track of where these things land - there have been a number of cases in the UK where commercial versions of this have been implicated in the death of livestock, after crashed balloons get caught up in silage crops, chopped and shredded in the processing, and the resulting short pieces of wire get eaten by cattle and puncture their stomach linings.

The number of confirmed cases is very low, but serious enough that the commercial supplier has redesigned their product to be wire-free.

Regarding the tether,

If you tied it to the bottom, it may have burned through.

If you tie it to the top, when you get to the end of the line, a tug should turn the balloon over and release the hot air.


tim_n (author)  Kiteman4 years ago

I did put that!

"Similarly if you're in a rural location apparently if these land in a field they can be ingested by livestock and the copper wire can damage their stomachs and throats - so be responsible and keep hold of them if you can." (See the intro!)

A good point about the Anchor/tether though! I shall update!

I have to agree with Kiteman.  Releasing these to the wild is not a smart thing to do.  And harming livestock would be the least of your worries:

When I was a teenager I made several of these using drycleaner bags.  I didn't tether them.

The last one I made got about a hundred feet up and then a gust of wind caused the fire to melt a big hole in the side of the balloon.  It then slowly descended and landed on the roof of a house a block away.  The fire was still burning, with enough fuel to start that house on fire.

Fortunately, there was a ladder handy, so I was able to climb up and put out the fire.  But it could have turned into a VERY BAD situation.

Normally, they will stay up until the fire runs out of fuel. Once the fire runs out, it will start to descend   That's normally how it goes...

When things don't go so well, you could have fire raining down from the sky.

I really don't recommend trying this.
tim_n (author)  Frivolous Engineering4 years ago
As it is I've made it blatantly obvious it could be dangerous with a nice big warning label.

All my instructables are dangerous, I'm a serious risk to life and limb! :D
tim_n (author)  Frivolous Engineering4 years ago
Hi SaskView - so many things in life are dangerous like crossing the road.

It's common sense - keep it tethered, keep an eye on it and if you can, keep hold of it.  I didn't because I was videoing and I had absolutely no intention of actually letting it go.  Simply tipping it up as per Kitemans comment will simply remove the hot air and a bucket of water nearby will put out the meths.

This is a fun, quick and simple project which I would encourage people to try, but children should be supervised!
Kiteman tim_n4 years ago
Ha, serves me right for skim-reading!

Nice project, though, and thanks for the patch!
Jayefuu4 years ago
I came here all ready to rant about burning trash bags littering our countryside. Luckily I read through first and saw the tethering note.... great idea! :D After calming down I read back through, really well documented and details ible, thanks for the interesting read!
tim_n (author)  Jayefuu4 years ago
Yeah, my first attempt at tethering was for the same reason - but unfortunately the ones that accidently get released (or fortunately depending if you hate dolphins) tend to be taken out to sea, where they probably kill sealife/whales etc.

I like dolphins btw.
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