Disclaimer: This project is mostly I think pretty much safe for most people. It is safer than your pyromaniac friend with lighter fluid at a campfire, but somewhat less safe than a normal campfire. Please be careful so other people don't lose access to information about how to make fun things, and also for your own welfare.
PEOPLE LOVE FIRE BUBBLES!! It's just one of those things that make ALL people happy. The only thing the average human loves more than fire bubbles is getting to hold, pass and throw a fireball of them! Here's how it works: you bubble propane into soapy water, making propane-filled bubbles. You scoop them into your hand, light them on fire, and they burn up quickly enough to only singe your arm hair but not hurt you. Advanced level is getting a bunch of people in circle, then get everyone to scoop some bubbles, and then you can pass the fireball from person to person really fast until the last person throws their fireball back into the cauldron (!) and all the leftover bubbles ignite into a massive and rapid fireball (that burns off as fast as it goes up).
They're super easy to make. Here's what you need:
- propane regulator (optional)
- aquarium sealant/silicone
- good glue (if you can eat it without having to go to the ER, it probably won't work)
- hole saw drill bit and drill
- dish soap
- fireproof container
The hardest part of this project is affording it. It might cost $100 or more if you don't have any of these things laying around! It's so so worth it though.
Step 1: Gather the Parts!
I don't want to stifle your part foraging creativity, but I'll tell you what we came up with. Once you get the idea of needing to get propane gas into the water liquid, you can use your imagination to come up with the actual mechanism. Or if you don't want to use your imagination, I've provided varying levels of guidance below. Since our basin was purchased all tubed up and ready to go, I don't have any photos to show you that wouldn't just make you jealous of our mind-blowingly random salvage store. We have no idea what the original purpose of our basin was, and it was a magical moment when this perfect and otherwise completely useless object found us and became our beloved fire toy. But you'll be able to follow along with these instructions, and if not, please PM or leave a comment and I will clarify.
Propane: a standard 20lb propane tank, purchasable from any home improvement store.
Fireproof container bowl: we are lucky to live by a magical salvage shop where we found a ridiculously perfect object for this part, and that's probably not going to happen to you. There are a few ways you can approach it, but the basic idea is that you have a vessel that can hold water and that can get the propane bubbles into it. There are two bits of selection criteria: size and hole access.
I would choose a size that holds at least 5 gallons of water, so you have enough surface area to play fire bubble toss with multiple people. Keep in mind that filling said container can be a nuisance if it's huge and you aren't near a hose, but otherwise you just don't want it to be so small that the bubbles overflow faster than you can light them up.
Something like this will work just fine: http://d2pbmlo3fglvvr.cloudfront.net/product/large...
Hole access: you may either be lucky enough to find a metal or other container that already has an inlet or outlet, but if not, just grab a regular or hole saw drill bit suited to your water basin's material (e.g. stainless steel) and the size of your tubing or connector fitting and drill a hole below the intended water line. You will need to seal this joint to keep water from coming out, which you can do with most silicone sealants that say they make waterproof seals, like aquarium sealants. A better way is to permanently attach a hose barb for your hose so you can disconnect the hose when not in use, but you will need a solid glue and sealant for that joint too. Luckily the bowl never gets super hot, even when it's on fire, so I think you'd be fine running a propane hose into the water over the top of the bowl if you're feeling lazy.
Propane regulator: you *can* just run the tube straight from the propane tank into the basin, but then you have less control of the bubbles, and they might be underwhelming. You want an adjustable high pressure regulator for maximum control of bubble input, with an end that is easy to attach tubing to like this:
Tubing: Buy flexible PVC tubing that fits either directly onto your propane tank, or onto your regulator as desired. The packaging of each will say what size to get.
Dish soap: Any will do but the more bubbly the better. Bath bubbles also work although they seem to be slightly more fragile in general than dish soap.
Lighter: I like using a blow torch for high-wind applications, but any lighter will work as long as you don't stick it in the bubbles, which honestly happens 90% of the time due to over-enthusiasm.
Purchase considerations: anything below the water line never gets hot, and the water and metal surfaces generally stay cool, depending on the size of your fire balls. It's easy to think that everything needs to be ultra heat resistant and fireproof but that is only true of the upper portion of the basin, and even that doesn't get super hot unless you're getting really crazy.
Step 2: Assemble!
This is actually quite simple. Cut a hole in your basin, add an attachment for the tube, connect the tube to a regulator and connect the regulator to your propane tank.
To install a hose barb, drill a hole with a drill bit if they make them big enough for your tubing or a hole saw as needed, and ferociously glue your barb into place. Then surround the area with an excessive amount of silicone to make sure it is water tight.
To install your tubing directly, drill a hole that is the size of your tubing, squish it through, and excessively silicone it into place to make it water tight.
To go the lazy person's route, run the tubing over the edge of your basin and lay a rock on it to hold it down at the bottom. I've never tried this so I can't guarantee the tubing won't melt, but I'm pretty sure it'll be fine because the fire burns out so quick even when it gets huge.
Then hook up your tubing to the regulator and the regulator to the tank and you're almost done!
Fill your basin up with water, and add a lot of dish soap, about one cup per 5 gallons but you can experiment with your bubble desires and figure out what you like.
Turn the propane on and watch the basin fill with propane bubbles! Don't let too many build up or bad things could happen. You never want more bubbles than approximately one scoop per person for everyone who is going to play.
Step 3: Play!
Here is a video of the fire bubbles in action: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zwnnfbv15zE
To play, turn the propane tank on so the basin slowly fills with bubbles, but not so slow that the explode before everyone has a chance to get and hold onto a scoopful. Everyone stands around the basin with bubbles in their hand, and the person with the lighter lights the first persons bubbles on fire, and then that person has to pass the fire to the next person's bubbles before their fire bubbles burn out. If you're really good at this, the last person can throw the fireball into the basin and the bubbles that have been made during that time will blow up and the night will be triumphant.
When you're playing hot potato and the last person throws the fireball into the basin, make sure that the whole time you were playing the regulator didn't allow a mountain of bubbles to be created that is going to blow up in everyone's face in an unfun way. The fun way is for it to be right on the edge of being in control and out of control, on the 'in control' side of people getting hurt.
If you take a reasonable scoop of bubbles, it will burn off so fast you don't even feel it. If you take a giant heaping scoop, or you allow the basin to get really full of bubbles, when those get lit up it's going to make a big and VERY fast fire and you will feel it. Start off slow with fewer bubbles and work your way up to more bubbles as you feel confident in your fire bubble handling abilities. Your only real consideration with bubble formation speed is that they don't all pop before you can get your circle going, after that, any more bubbles is probably too much.
Keep the propane tank away from blow torches and fire balls. Don't make too many bubbles. I feel the same way about fire bubbles as you but seriously, don't make too many!
Having a fire extinguisher, fire blanket, sober adult, and other fire safety measures on hand probably won't help you but I'd feel remiss if I didn't suggest you have them.
Have, bring and share fun!!!!!