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Creating a Flaming Arrow That Works

WARNING:

Playing with fire is dangerous. Playing with fire that flies through the air at great speed is even MORE DANGEROUS. Use common sense and caution when using the arrow. I take no responsibility for what you do with your creation and for how you use this instructable.  I highly suggest this not be attempted by anyone under the age of 21.   I will stress again this is dangerous and has it's uses (like for a camp ceremony which is what I created this for) but you must be careful. Use these instructions at your own risk

I get asked to create some very interesting things, and often on short notice. It's pretty fun to see if I can really make the vision happen. This was the case with the flaming arrow. You might be shocked to know, there is not a lot out there on the web to create such an item. Those that do have instructions have little or no success. Others will show you what they did, but they do not tell you how it was actually created. 

I took pieces from sites I found used a little brain power and came up with this flaming arrow that worked. So, my  instructable friends, It is time to take the journey in learning how you too can make a flaming arrow that works!

Step 1: Materials

Materials Needed:

22" Aluminum Arrow (or longer I would not go lower than 22") 
Box Knife
Cheese cloth
Liquid Stitch or a craft glue
16 Sparklers (the color does not matter)
Electrical tape or Duct tape
Thin gauge wire (24, 26, or 28 gauge)
Wire Cutters
Vasoline
Kerosene
Grill Lighter
A bow of your choice to shoot the arrow
Leather or cloth gloves (optional but strongly suggested)

Step 2: Cutting the Cheese Cloth

This is a piece of cheese cloth. The piece was four layers thick and around 3X4 inches maybe slightly larger .  You need the layers to help hold the sparkler material inside as well as soak up kerosene. 

Cheese cloth is not very expansive but a lot of people are unaware of where to buy it.  I've found it in several different isles in stores: cooking items (non-food), craft areas, and grocery. Large chain local discount stores do carry the item.  If you have trouble, ask an employee they will be happy to help you.

Note: If you want you can make your layers thicker. I did try it this way as well, and it worked fine, but I did double the amount of sparkler material in the middle

Step 3: Sparklers

In many states in the USA it's not easy to get a hold of fireworks in the "off season".  However, in good news I doubt many of you are going to want to make and shoot a flaming arrow in the middle of winter.  A word of caution.  When I made this I bought several boxes of sparklers.  It worked out well because I made several arrows over the summer.  When we ran out of flaming arrows I was asked if I could do one more.  The only problem....we could not find sparklers.  So, stock up!  In the USA it gets hard in some areas to find sparklers after July 4th.

You will need at least ten for the inside of your cheese cloth.

Step 4: Shaving Off the Goods

Take a box knife and scrape off the sparkler material onto the cheese cloth.  This does get mess,, and your hands will likely get gray.  I have a gut feeling that the material is not healthy for you to breathe in so I would suggest making sure you are not taking big whiffs of the powder.  I would also suggest cleaning the work area when you are all done and your hands very well before eating, drinking, or sticking your fingers in your mouth.

Step 5:

Here we have almost half of the sparklers shaved off into the cheese cloth.  You will notice I keep the sparklers I'm working with on another piece of cloth.  I did this in part to keep my work space clean, but also so you could see the materials I was using a little better.

Step 6: Adjusting to the Center

You want to get your sparkler powder as centered as possible.  Fold the cloth vertically and horizontally across to achieve this.

Step 7: The Fold

Fold two of the layers over the top of your sparkler shavings.  This will give you sort of a tea bag kind of look.

Step 8: Glue Time!

To make sure you do not lose any of your material, you can glue the sides together.  I used liquid stitch, which can be found in fabric areas at stores.  I feel tacky glue would also work, I just had liquid stitch in my drawer so I went ahead and put it to use.

Step 9: It's Arrow Time!

Time to bring in the metal arrow. 

Do not attempt this with a wooden arrow.  Yes, I realize this seems obvious, but you never know who may not be clearly thinking when excited about making a flaming arrow.  A wooden arrow will catch on fire....yes I tested it.  Yes, I might have been that excited person. 

You want to lay the arrow in the middle of your sparkler pile.  Press down some on the arrow to wedge it into the sparkler material.  You want to have enough of the sparkler material to wrap all around the arrow.  If you are a little off that is okay, but do your best to even it out.

Step 10: Rollin'

Now it's time to roll the cheese cloth and sparkler  material around the arrow.  You will wrap a few times and that is fine.  You want plenty of cheese cloth material to soak up kerosene.

Step 11:

Do not be alarmed if you can not see the sparkler material through the cheese cloth.  It just means you had more cheese cloth than I did and it will not harm the function of your arrow.  If in doubt, unroll and add more sparkler material.  You can see that fine powder that got out on my desk.  I rolled the cheese cloth into it to pick some of it up to add to the flaming arrow and to help clean up the mess.

Step 12: Glue Take Two!

Once you have your cheese cloth and sparkler material adjusted how you want it liquid stitch the end onto the rest of the cheese cloth.  Again, I feel tacky glue would be fine to use as well.

Step 13: Tips at This Stage

Do not worry if yours looks more bulky than my does at this stage.  (This was the first arrow I made in total  to date made 12 of these). 
The most important thing is to have your cheese cloth evenly around the arrow.

Step 14: Closing Up

Now take the end of the cheese cloth and fold it over.  Basically you want the blunt end of the arrow , to still be the blunt end of the arrow.  This will add more cloth to one side of the arrow, just do your best to fold it all around.  Glue or liquid stitch this into place.

Step 15: Wire

Get a very thin gauge wire to use to ensure your cloth stays put.  The wire you see in the picture is used for jewelry making.  I think it was 28 gauge.  However, the gauges I listed for your shopping list will work just fine.  You want it light enough to not add a lot of weight to the end, but strong enough to keep things in place.

Step 16: Mummy

Wrap the wire around the cheese cloth and the arrow.  You can see I did not have a pattern, I just wrapped until I felt it was hooked down well. 

Step 17: Mummification Complete

You can see I left plenty of cheese cloth showing.  I tied the wire off by wrapping it several times around the end of the cheese cloth and on to the arrow.  I cut the end of the wire off  with around two inches left hanging.   I used that to weave into other parts of the wire to help keep it from unraveling. 

Step 18: Tape Time

Take electrical tape (or duct tape) and tape the end of the arrow. the wire tie off  and the end of the cheese cloth all together.  Two times around should do the trick. 

Note: I never tried making a flaming arrow with duct tape.  I do however believe it would hold up for the amount of time the arrow is lit on fire and hits it's destination.

Step 19: More Sparkler Fun

Now we are going to add more sparklers to the out side of our arrow.  Leave a bit of the sparkler hanging out over the end.  You will tape these into place as you add them. (You will add six around the outside of the arrow total)

Step 20: Keep the Sparklers Coming!

I found that it's easier if you do two sparklers and a once around with tape.  Then repeat.  You will notice that some of the wire is hanging out of the tape, do not worry we will get to that.

Step 21: Fire Power!

You want to add sparklers around the arrow as evenly as possible.  Continue putting them on until you have at least six.  I found that more than six was over kill.

Step 22: Loose Ends

I added tape down the arrow to help hold the added sparklers into place.  I chose to not cut them off with wire cutters, because I felt it was more stable to have the entire sparkler hooked to the arrow. 

Step 23: More Wire Wrapping

It's time to get out your spool of wire again.  Wrap the wire several times around your six sparklers and the end of the arrow.  As in the previous step leave  some wire to weave back into the wire in place. Once you have the wire secure, take your tape again and tape down the end of the wire.

Step 24: Last Tape

Now take your tape to the end of the arrow.  Your goal is to move the ends of the sparklers as close together as you can.  You won't get a true pointed tip, but do the best you can.  This will help it fly in the air a little better.

Step 25: Bath Time!

Get a cup full of kerosene and soak the end of your arrow in it for five minutes or less.  You do not want to soak off the sparkler material, but you want to get enough kerosene soaked into the tip.

When you are set to shoot the arrow, have the extra kerosene away from the area.  Have a friend/co-worker/family light the arrow for you.  We found that it worked best if the shooter was completely ready, the arrow lit, the party that lit the arrow moved away, and finally the arrow was shot.  However, you should do what you and those with you feel most comfortable with, and you should use extreme caution at all times.


Note: Here is where I stopped having pictures, I have been told I need to make these again, so as soon as I do, I will replace the drawing with an actual photo.  I'll also had similar picture to those already listed so you can see that no two arrows are really a like.

Update: After long last I have pictures of the arrow in action!

Step 26: Arrow Part 2 Update 2013

Since I first wrote this instructable I have in fact made several more flaming arrows.  This year when creating one I added Vaseline to the mix and really liked how it helped the flame stay lit as shot.  I'm attaching pictures of that process. 

I did still use kerosene, I can't help it I get fearful it's going to go out.  It's a one shot deal so to speak at camp so I really have to ensue it's going to work. :)

My arrow this year was wooden, but we were not shooting from a very far distance.  It did make the trip just fine, but clearly I couldn't save the arrow. :)

Step 27: CAUTION!!

CAUTION TIPS AND TRICKS:
  1. Do not light the arrow until you are really ready to shoot.  You can shoot the arrow a few times unlit to get a feel for how it works.  The arrow will get bent up, so if you are practicing from a far, have a few arrows made up for practice so you do not beat the one you need to use up.
  2. Even with longer arrows the flame will get close to your  hand.  BE VERY CAREFUL.  We tried two ways of shooting the arrows.  One with out gloves, it can be done, but it gets pretty hot and it freaks the shooter out.  The second was wearing a glove that had been soaked in water for over and hour.  It's still freaky but you have some protection from the flame.  Basically, it's fire, use caution with your body parts!
  3. Never shoot a flaming arrow alone. 
  4. Never shoot this towards a person.  That is a bit of a no brainier.
  5. Always have water on hand.  Enough to put out any flame you are going to make.
  6. My best advise as you are planning to use your arrow is to always think what is the worse case scenario.  Then work to eliminate those issues. 
Again, I take no responsibility for how you use this instructable. 

Note: I at this time do not have a picture of the arrow(s) being shot.  I'm trying to see if someone I worked with does.  However, I will be doing this again, so I'll ensure I get a picture so you can see it all in action. 


If you search Youtube you can find videos of people shooting arrows.  This one is similar to what we use ours for.

UPDATE 2013: Arrow in action pictures now added.
<p>We have made similar flaming arrows in the past, but your idea is the best yet! We don't have any trouble with the flame going out on the way to the bonfire pile with your process. This video is a practice run and my husband filmed it in slow motion. We used a milk plastic mile bottle as our &quot;target&quot;. The green light you see is a small flashlight covered with green plastic (to dim it) that I use as my &quot;sight pin&quot;. This shot is 30 yards. I'll be doing it tonight for the kids who attend our Kicking Bear Ministry event. Thank you for providing this information. PS - We weren't quite sure where you used the vaseline, so we improvised.</p>
<p>We have made similar flaming arrows in the past, but your idea is the best yet! We don't have any trouble with the flame going out on the way to the bonfire pile with your process. This video is a practice run and my husband filmed it in slow motion. We used a milk plastic mile bottle as our &quot;target&quot;. The green light you see is a small flashlight covered with green plastic (to dim it) that I use as my &quot;sight pin&quot;. This shot is 30 yards. I'll be doing it tonight for the kids who attend our Kicking Bear Ministry event. Thank you for providing this information. PS - We weren't quite sure where you used the vaseline, so we improvised.</p>
Rather than buying ready made sparklers you could make your own:<br> <br> <a href="https://www.instructables.com/id/Homemade-Sparklers-for-the-4th-of-July-Improvi/" rel="nofollow">https://www.instructables.com/id/Homemade-Sparklers-for-the-4th-of-July-Improvi/</a>
Indeed one could! :)
<p>is that dangerous because it might burn the arrow and burn your hand</p>
<p>is it dangerous because what if it burns the arrow and your hand gets burnt</p>
<p>I really don't get why is dangerous at high speeds</p>
Awesome!
Many thanks
great
Thanks!
Bandage lint may well be useful if one can't find cheese cloth. It would at least wrap nicely and provide a nicely balanced 'head'.
I agree, that would work well. :)
REI and other camping/outdoors stores sell waterproof matches that might work for this application. They're not as big but much larger than a regular match so you'd probably be able to get a similar effect with a few of them.
Ah fantastic idea! Ever since I made my first arrow for camp, I now make them yearly, always interested in trying to make it better!
Love it!
Thanks it is fun to shoot...hot...dangerous...and oh so very fun!
Yeah i bet the Girls were all over you..and also on fire
Alsome. Also RANDOM TYPING:SKJDHF;ASDF;LKSADJF;DSAH GKSHDFKLHDLKJGCHRFGLKJDHGFLKDFJHGLKJSDFHGLJKSFHGLKJSAHDFGLKJASHDFGKLJASDHG FHLKAHGKSAHDGLKASDHFKJSHDGLKAJSDHFKLSJDHAGKJSAFHGKJSDHGASKDGHHHHHHHHHHHJKHLKGKLGKJGCHGGBVGDRSDFGHNBVFGHJKUYTFDERTGQWERTYUIOPLKJHGFDSAZXCVBNMMNBVCXZASDFGHJKLPOIUYTREWQ.
LOL Very nice Random Typing.
Funny stuff! Makes you wonder what they used back in the day before aluminum or composite arrows. What would Robin Hood have used?
Well, they would have been more versed in what to do :) I am guessing there would be a tar involved and a pretty long arrow. :)
Probably tar, I've heard about a black mulch that ignites as well, but tar would be the most probable.
like Rusty, I was going to suggest wax instead of kerosene, they can be fully made ahead, just be sure to leave a small piece of wax covered cloth to light, you can also presoak the cloth in epsom salt or other color enhancers to add colored flames along wih the sparks
Sweet! I'm very excited to give the wax idea a whirl. I will keep tabs and take loads of pics to keep everyone posted of my progress. It's funny you said something about colors, I was asked to change a fires color last summer too. We got an amazing blue, somewhere I have the link to the video, when I find it...oh yes an instructable will come!
many moons ago (like the 1960's) my dad would roll &quot;logs&quot; of newspaper and soak them in various solutions like epsom salts, copper sulfate etc, let them dry and we'd have colored flames in the fireplace, with a little research you could shoot a rainbow !
I should look again, from a chemical site only two of those they said would change flames really worked for me. The blue was the best, and it worked out well because it was to show which team won. Thankfuly it was blue. The red was a nice red but did not stay red quite as along. I like the &quot;log&quot; idea. I'll have to check that out too.
This is just plain fabulous
Thanks a million!
Love your 'able. One suggestion, if I may,Tackcloth, just cheesecloth impregnated with beeswax and shellac, might be a useful substitution. The sparklers, dry gauze and kerosene are all &quot;fast&quot; burning - the tackcloth may give the projectile better longevity, giving you the option of arcing the shot higher for a more dramatic visual. In addition, the flame is &quot;sticky&quot; and might stand a better chance of lighting that Viking longboat filled with (never dry enough) tinder as an appropriate sendoff for the campers....
Fantastic! I will give this a try this summer and keep you posted! Thanks a million for the suggestion!
Pretty neat! It would be interesting to see the video of this being shot. Nice job on the instructions.
Thanks! I will get video this summer. We were all just so excited I was able to figure out a method that did work!

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