Introduction: Fireballs That You Can Hold!

Picture of Fireballs That You Can Hold!

Disclaimer: I do not claim any responsibility for any harm that is caused as a result of this instructable. Make at your own risk.

This is a great trick, and it's pretty cool. If you do it right, you won't get burned, but it is fire, so there is always a chance. So, if you want to play with fire, impress your friends, or just know how it works, read on.

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials

For the fireball:

- 100% cotton (from t-shirt)
- 100% cotton thread
- Rubbing alcohol (70% or 90%(hotter)), or lighter fluid (VERY HOT)


- Scissors
- Sewing Needle
- Matches/ lighter

Step 2: How Does It Work?

Why doesn't the cotton burn?
The basic idea is that the cotton doesn't burn because the fuel (rubbing alcohol) burns instead. What happens is the heat turns the alcohol into gas (it evaporates), and the gas burns, causing heat, which makes more gas to burn.

Why cotton?
Cotton burns, but doesn't melt. Other materials that have plastic in them will melt and burn you.

Why doesn't it burn you?
It doesn't burn you if you keep it moving because the lower part of the flame is cool enough to handle for a short amount of time in one place. However, the top part of the flame is hotter and more likely to burn you.

Step 3: The Silence of the T-shirts

Picture of The Silence of the T-shirts

Cut a strip of your t-shirt 4 x 4 inches and roll it into a ball. It doesn't have to be perfect, just try your best. It should be fine as long as it will stay in a ball shape after you tie it up with the thread.

Step 4: Thread!

Picture of Thread!

Get around 3-5 feet of thread, depending on how thick your thread is. Tie the thread around the needle eye, then push the needle through the center of your cotton ball and tie a knot. Now just wrap the thread around the ball until you have a few inches left. You want to wrap the thread around tight enough to keep the cotton in a ball, but not too tight.

Step 5: Almost There!

Picture of Almost There!

Push the needle through the ball again, and tie a knot. Cut off any remaining thread.

Step 6: Cotton, Meet Flammable Liquid.

Picture of Cotton, Meet Flammable Liquid.

Time to soak the ball. I used 70% rubbing alcohol, but 90% makes a bigger flame, and lighter fluid an even bigger one. But beware, as the bigger flame there is, the more easily you can get burned. Just pour the flammable liquid into a small bowl and roll the ball around in it, squeeze it, etc. to soak up the liquid. Be careful though, if there is too much liquid, some can get on your hands and they can light on fire! Squeeze out a few drops if you want, then set the ball aside out of the liquid.

IMPORTANT: Make sure you wash your hands after this step so you don't light them on fire.

Step 7: Burn!

Picture of Burn!

Light it however you please, and have fun! Try to avoid the top of the flame, as this is most likely to burn you. Also, you HAVE to keep the fireball moving, if you leave in one spot for too long it WILL BURN you.


gokugod (author)2015-10-14

is this safe because i want to do it for a project but still be safe?

NatalyV (author)2015-05-12

경록박 (author)2015-04-05

can I use a hand sanitizer for fuel?

Patricia AnnV (author)2014-08-14

I use a nail polisher remover

ilpug (author)2011-11-15

I am going to do this, but use it for a hacky-sack, so we can hack at night! this will be amazing.

GuitarGuyJames (author)ilpug2011-11-15

Well... if it isn't 100% cotton, it won't work. But, if you used a whole t-shirt, it might be the same effect (and INSANELY AWESOME), but you would need a ton of liquid . and probably a bucket of water in case it went wrong

ilpug (author)GuitarGuyJames2011-11-15

Well, i will just make a "sandbag hacky sack, using a layer or two of cotton t shirt, then with sand in the middle. That will hold a LOT of fluid.

TrollFaceTheMan (author)ilpug2014-03-04

Cool Idea, did it ever work out..?

ilpug (author)TrollFaceTheMan2014-03-05

Never tried it

TrollFaceTheMan (author)ilpug2014-03-05

Ahh... To Bad... I bet you it would of been amazing...

ilpug (author)TrollFaceTheMan2014-03-06

It definitely could be, I just need to do it :P

Could you also use cotton balls like the doctors use?

aidanjarosgrilli (author)2012-03-04

can you use mineral oil, or does it have to be rubbing alcohol? (author)aidanjarosgrilli2012-03-24

probably won't work very well with oil

aidanjarosgrilli (author)jj.inc2012-04-03

what about metho?

No idea - Try it! (But be careful)
What exactly do you mean by metho?

metholated spirits

I had heard somebody who had done this experiment a while back actually recommend Denatured Spirits as they clammed it did not burn as hot... Which is actually supported by the fact that it has less Calories then isopropyl... But the one that technically should burn the coolest is methanol alcohol... Hopefully this can clear up some confussion...

Well, to be honest, I have no idea. Try to find a high percent rubbing alcohol or ronsonol.

LiftAndLove (author)2012-12-13

can you use 60% alchohol?

Probably, it just wont have as big of a flame (or as hot).

Thanks, but since hand sanitizer is kinda 'sticky' and viscous, would the flame stick to your hands?

I would imagine that it is a possibility... As with my 95% alcohol I try to squeeze out the cotton balls I use a bit before touching it because if I do not my hands catch fire when I juggles them... But on the contrary hand sanitizer, in my experience burn almost without much heat, and sometimes without a visible flame, so it might make a good alternative... But I guess that all needs to be tested though...

zac_9687 (author)2011-11-07

little word of advice to anyone that makes this. it REALLY does get hot if you hold in in one spot for too long. i made one a while back, burnt my hand, dropped the ball. and left a burn mark in the carpet and the bottom of my chair lol. but they are pretty fun and a great way to impress people. great ible ;)

GuitarGuyJames (author)zac_96872011-11-08

Yeah, I agree. This was my first time making one so I used 70% rubbing alcohol (least hot and smallest flame), and it was still pretty hot. Thanks for the comment :)

mce128 (author)GuitarGuyJames2012-09-09

you can add *some* water to the 70% and it'll burn cooler too, obviously a smaller flame, but you can hold it longer.

AudioMaximus (author)2012-08-27

Can you use a single ball more than once?

Yeah, I still have the ones I made about a year ago. All you have to do is soak them in more lighter fluid or rubbing alcohol and you're good to go! (author)2012-03-24

This was a ton of fun, I only have 99% alcohol though, so as you can imagine it was very warm. It was fun to throw in the air and then let fall back down to earth too. I burned a little grass, curled some hairs, and warmed my hands, but this was a blast.

GuitarGuyJames (author)2012-03-18

Maybe but it probably would not work as well. Go for it and see what happens!

Kaleoscope (author)2012-03-14

It's almost cute!

mymridon (author)2012-01-23

Can you let the fluid dry? Or does it still have to be wet to burn like it does here? ie: make a bunch and take them and impress your friends at different functions, etc.

GuitarGuyJames (author)mymridon2012-01-24

No, because if you let them dry, all of the fluid will have evaporated, and there will be nothing to burn.

mymridon (author)GuitarGuyJames2012-01-24

That's what I thought, just wanted to make sure before wasting my time. Thanks

ashwinlit (author)2012-01-09

Bent u nederlands?

GuitarGuyJames (author)ashwinlit2012-01-10

Nee, ik kom uit Ierland maar ik woon in Nederland ( Mijn Nederlands is niet goed).

ashwinlit (author)GuitarGuyJames2012-01-11

Hihi, wat leuk :)

luckadoo42 (author)2012-01-07

This just made my day. If you wrap all but part of the ball in aluminum foil, you can let it sit in your hand until you run out of fuel! However, i have not tried to do that with lighter fluid, and i did have a couple mishaps with the rubbing alcohol, so BE CAREFUL.

jlund (author)2011-11-08

can i use hand sanitiser for this becuase i was in science class and my teacher told us to make a science project and i decieded to burn things (aka) handsanitiser and iv seen people put it on there hands and light it so will it work

GuitarGuyJames (author)jlund2011-11-09

I don't think so because the cotton ball might not absorb the hand sanitizer very well. Also then if there is a lot on the surface some might come off onto your hands, and it won't feel good. At all. But if you can get rubbing alcohol or lighter fluid then try it. You can try with hand sanitizer it if you want to but it might not work and it could burn you sooo.... yeah

jlund (author)GuitarGuyJames2011-12-13

I went ad tried just use 2 by 2 inch napkin and the hand sanitizer works perfect

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