Introduction: Firewire

Picture of Firewire

No this isn't an instructable for the 1394 i variety, its much more fun then that. I love this project because its simple, cheap, easy to make, relatively safe, impressive, and fun. Odds are you have the materials lying around your house already. My only complaint is that it only lasts about 10 seconds, but its so cheap and easy to make more, thats not really a problem.

Video here:

Step 1: Parts

Picture of Parts


1. Fine steel wool
2. Wire (I used the left over magnet wire from my tesla coil) Any type of wire will do as long as its about 3 feet long and strong enough to be spun in a circle.
3. Lighter

Step 2: Assemble

Picture of Assemble

Unwrap the steel wool then wrap it again to get it spread out.

Wrap the wire around the center of the steel wool, and tie it on.

Give it a few practice swings in circles to make sure that the steel wool is secure.

Step 3: Light

Picture of Light

It has a better effect at night but works fine during the day.

Go outside and make sure there is nothing flammable around you.

Make sure that there is nothing in the way of any tangent line to the circle that will be created by swinging it around the steel wool around. This just means to make sure that if the steel wool flew off the wire, at any point, it wouldent hit anything.

Light the steel wool, and swing vigorously in circles. It should spray off sparks for around 10 seconds.

Get creative:

Put one in each hand.
Tie multiple steel wools to one wire.
Spin horozintally over your head.


Cristian Lavaque (author)2006-07-30

I'll risk sounding like an idiot, but why does the steel wool burn like that?

Its because the individual fibers in the wool are so thin they have the ability to burn. You wouldent normally consider metal being flammable but in thin enough strands or fine enough particles it can burn pretty powerfully.

Vendigroth (author)Tetranitrate2007-01-30

the iron's reactive enough to burn, but if it's in big lumps then the surface area to weight ratio's wrong and nothing'll happen. With steel wool, it's nice and thin, so it can burn well. iron filings also burn if you throw them into a fire

Wesley666 (author)Vendigroth2010-11-19

Well yes, that what rust is essentially. A slow combustion reaction. You can stick iron into pure oxygen and it bursts into flame. So it makes sense that have increased surface area as well as better burn condition would allow it to do this...

keastes (author)Vendigroth2009-02-27

0000 steel wool awesome stuff i used to light camp fires with this stuff

sona (author)Vendigroth2007-02-13

is it true that if you mix rusted iron and alluminum fillings and light it it can melt iron?

Vendigroth (author)sona2007-02-15

yup. the aluminium takes the oxygen from the rust to make aluminium oxide, releasing lots of heat and light energy. the by-products of this reaction (the thermite reaction, it's done in high schools) are aluminium oxide and liquid iron. it's used to weld railway tracks together. Be safe...

sona (author)Vendigroth2008-02-05

Is there a reaction that can melt tungsten carbide?

T3hpw9ag3 (author)sona2008-05-20

Pretty much nothing short of an industrial smelter can melt tungsten. Tungsten has a melting point of over 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

Roflolommo (author)T3hpw9ag3 2008-07-31

yea i am currently to lazy to remember thermites temperature but i dont think even thermite is hot enough to melt tungsten.

Vendigroth (author)Roflolommo2008-08-01

Thermite burns at abuot 3000 C, about the same temperature tungsten melts at. Give or takea few hundred degrees. It's be close.

sona (author)Vendigroth2007-07-21

I saw it on macgyver. Lemme see, about 0.5 milligrams aluminum, no rust in sight... >sigh

jester_rob (author)sona2008-07-09

Its called Thermite

thoraxe (author)Vendigroth2008-07-02

just like wood shavings and a big lump of wood

kibbler (author)Tetranitrate2009-03-25

Actually, you messed up a bit. You know how you can light cornstarch when it's aerosalized? Sort of like that. And I'm just saying, but magnesium is a flammable metal. Still, you rock, Tetranitrate!

Thanks for the explanation. :)

u dont sound like an idoit. i was wonderin the same thing. unless i sound like an idoit... o_O

ARVash (author)Pyromaniac3212007-03-07

we all do sometimes :3

Kirbsome! (author)2010-10-09

Durr how do i connect to computar?

7419026 (author)2010-07-03

so ive been planning to do this for 4th of july and i need to know if it works with synthetic steel wool. i would think not but what do i know

QuackMasterDan (author)2009-10-16

I recommend using a 9 volt battery rather than a lighter to ignite the steel wool, it actually got me out of a run in with the fire-department. Also wear synthetic clothing, sunglasses, and a hat/hoodie for prickles in your hair. Also a bucket of water to put out hot wires for handling.

I figured I would add some nice pictures of firewires my friends and I ignited years back, because the original author's video of a daytime firewire and pictures are lacking. Enjoy!

cormac3050 (author)2008-09-24

You don't need a lighter or matches to light it, just touch the terminals of a rectangular 9 volt battery to the wool.

Pikachu4life (author)2008-08-11

i take it ur not the smartest person :P

mattcn81 (author)2006-07-20

You can also "light" steel wool by touching it with a 9-volt battery. It's a wilderness survival trick.

MisterHankie (author)mattcn812008-05-20

You could also smash the light bulb of a flashlight to make fire.

callmeshane (author)mattcn812007-11-17

Yes the modern womans guide to servivell - all you need is to find a 9V battery tree and some steel wool bush's.. and......

Fenwick (author)2007-05-20

Steel wool is great. You can start fires really easily with steel wool and a 9V battery. My other favorite fire starter is a cotton ball and vasolene. It burns for several minutes.

PhaseShifter (author)Fenwick2007-09-23

One of my favorite firestarters is lint pulled from the lint filter of a clothes drier after washing towels.
it's fairly easy to ignite with just flint and steel.

gameboy7oa (author)PhaseShifter2008-01-13

thats the same thing i do but the lint burns to quick

Think (author)2007-04-07

i have tried this and i warn everyone who is going to do this that if you use the wrong kind wire and use it near windows that i WILL BURN THE WINDOWS i have found this and woah it realy does burn large crack/chips out of your or someone elses windows sorry about saying this in such a long way but another way to describe it is "etched" into glass be very carefull to use the correct kind of wirewool!

Hawaii00000 (author)Think2007-12-02

UMMM... its molten steel it will burn into window no matter what you use (I Think)

callmeshane (author)Think2007-11-17

Hmmmmm when the little burning globules hit the glass, they FUSE slightly into the glass surface. Being a weldor or some renown, and having been slashed with moltern iron plenty of times.... What happens some times in some welding process's is that little bits of moltern iron spray or splatter and weld or fuse or adhere onto adjacent objects... like the metal beside the weld, the nice stainless steel rulers, the glass or plastic shield on the welding lense and lots of other things.. Angle grinders do the same thing...

omnibot (author)Think2007-05-03

So .. what you're saying (lemme get this right) is that .. burning steelwool chars glass? Sounds like an idea for engraving coming up.

Hawaii00000 (author)2007-12-02

Ha ha ha its amazing how everyone thinks of the same idea. I do this whenever I get hold of steal wool. (the only differnce is that I hold that steel wool itself (its more manly) Anyway, you can use smaller pieces and spread them out it works much better that way AND one piece last much longer.

iKill (author)2007-01-13

i tried this and accidently burned myself and my arm feels like i have someone stabbing it with knives shoulda warned me and my friend almost lit his hair on fire

cecilomar (author)iKill2007-11-02

Lol! Is liquid steel dude!

iKill (author)cecilomar2007-11-02

really!?!?!?! lol... im fluent in sarcasm sorry if i offended you

manmelvin (author)iKill2007-10-02

Um i think thats particles of steel wool stuck in u its painfull

jakee117 (author)2007-08-16

personally i enjoy acting like an idiot it makes me less likley to be blamed for things which is good cuz im a pyro

pyro13 (author)2007-05-14

tetranitrate? how old are you? you dont look over 13

master-of-chaos (author)2007-04-27

NOTE if your using a chain then don't touch it until about 15 min after (or just dip it in water)

frankle (author)2007-03-30

you tubecool,good,see the link

The Burn Crew (author)2007-03-08

hey from the first comment, im a regular fire poi'er and fire breather, i dont advise doing any of these without advice and knowledge from an experienced person. but... i have wool cages, ive just joined this site but ill make a tut on using them after my exams and coursework, and wire wool is a dangerous one.

relic2279 (author)2007-01-13

Jeez... This is whats called "Sparkly Poi". Not fire wire. We fire performers/artists know that this is one of the most dangereous fire performence you can do. It is NOT for amateurs. this kid should probably not have posted this. Obviously not a fire artist, he doesn't know any better. Whats happening is the steel is melting off, causing the sparks. Molten steel. If this touches your skin, you will have instant 3rd degree burns or worse. I've been spinning fire for 6 years and I have some very bad scars on my arms and legs from this alone. Please visit (our troupe) or for real instructions, saftey procedures and for the love of god, do not do this without a couple spotters, 3 wet towels and nothing flammable within 50 yards. Please do not try this unless you are an already accomplished fire artist.

ARVash (author)relic22792007-03-07

Yeah there are a lot of dangerous instructables, I imagine it's either a miracle that nobody's gotten seriously hurt so far, or that all the ones that have were too injured to go on the internet XD. I think a safety disclaimer would be nice. It does look easier than it is.

PYROMan1 (author)2007-01-22

Dont ever spin this over your head. I got some in my eye and it hustsssssssss

Tetranitrate (author)PYROMan12007-01-23

Yes, molten steel does hurt.

fourthjinn (author)2006-07-19

Hehe. I usually staple steal wool to the back of potatoes and then fire them out of my (non-pneumatic) potato cannon and watch them glow as they sail (much better at night). But this, this is creative, i like it.

dprs (author)fourthjinn2006-12-29

Can you make an instructable for this non-pneumatic potato cannon of yours? Sounds sweet.

Pivnic (author)2006-12-14

actually saw this firewire demonstration on Mr.Wizards World years ago, back in the late 70's or early 80's. too bad it went off the air, he did some really cool experiments.

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