Introduction: Torches and Firebreathing
This instructable describes how to make a torch, and also how to breathe fire. All the materials needed should cost under 20$. Its also safer then you might imagine for a few reasons, the first is that kerosene (The liquid used to breathe fire) has a high flash point, meaning its not an extremely flammable liquid, I have put matches out in cups of kerosene. It ignites because you make it into a mist (aspirating) when you spray it from your mouth. Another reason is as long as there is sufficient pressure the flames will stay a safe distance from your face.
With that being said it is still a dangerous project and should only be attempted if you consider yourself responsible enough to follow the directions exactly. I have confidence that as long as you follow my directions you will not be burned, so thats my disclaimer if you dont follow the rules don't blame me.
Now with all the boring stuff aside, get ready to impress your friends and family at your next summer bbq. It never gets old hearing people say how crazy you are.
Step 1: Parts List
This parts list contains all the materials needed to make 2 torches and the things used to breathe fire.
1. Kerosene a.k.a. paraffin oil, make sure it is high quality with nothing added. (I bought mine in this big jug at sears hardware for about 6$)
2. 4' long 1" diameter wooden dowel or (2) 2' long metal pipes with similar or smaller diameter (Note: If using the metal pipes the following materials are not necessary: aluminum foil, nails, hammer, saw, or tin can)
3. Aluminum foil
4. Hammer with 5 or 6 nails about an inch long
5. Metal can of some kind( A soup can works, but a coffee can is better because it is longer and will protect the dowel better
6. Kevlar wick about 2" wide (Can be bought on e-bay for a few dollars a foot, just search for "kevlar fire poi"). You will need about 2-3 feet per torch, I have also heard that cloth belts can be used instead of the kevlar, but I have never tried this method.
7. Plastic water bottle
8. Small funnel
9. Tin snips or heavy duty scissors capable of cutting a coffee can
10. A wood saw
12. A wet towel, bucket of water, and fire extinguisher are also a good idea (not just one but all three)
Step 2: Prepare the Handle
If you are using a wooden dowel keep on reading, however if you are using a 2 metal rods then there is not much preparation needed and you can go onto the next step.
1. Remove both the top and bottom of the metal container (make sure it is clean first) so you are left with just a hollow cylinder.
2. Using the ruler measure the exact diameter of your handle, take that measurement and multiply it by pi (3.14) to get the circumference, then add an inch to that number. If you used a 1" dowel like I said then your final measurement should be 4.1 inches.
3. Using the sciccors or tin snips cut a straight line down the side of the can, and then lay it out and press it flat. Take the ruler and measure out the final measurement from the last step on the side of the can and then cut out that length.
4. Press the piece of metal flat against the surface of the top of the dowel, and hammer one nail through halfway down the can.
5. Roll the handle onto the can until it completely surronds the top and overlaps back where your first nail is. Then take the hammer and hammer 2 more nails into the can, one a few inches above the first nail and one a few inches below, so the handle will be completely covered by the can (except for the top side)
6. Cover the entire area you just covered with the can with about 1 and a half feet of aluminum foil, except this time cover the very top also.
You are now ready to put on the wick.
Step 3: Apply the Wick
For the metal handle: Wrap the 2 feet of wick very tightly around the top 3 or 4 inches of the pipe. When you finish wrapping it tuck the last few inches into itself. (Warning: Unless it is wound and tucked extremely tight it will fall off when it is on fire and that is not good for anyone, that is why I recommend a wooden handle) A finishing tough for the metal pipe would be to wrap electrical tape around the base of the handle where you are holding it so you can get a good grip.
For the wooden handle: Wrap the 2 feet of wick very tightly around the top 3 or 4 inches of the dowel. When you finish wrapping take one of the remaining nails and hammer it straight down through the wick into the dowel. Finally put a second nail wherever you feel the wick is least secure, and you are finished.
Now on to igniting the torch.
Step 4: Igniting the Torch
The great thing about kerosene in this project is its versatility, it is both the fuel for the torch and the liquid sprayed from your mouth.
(DO THIS OUTDOORS)
To ignite the torch find a container that, when filled with kerosene, can completely submerse the torch. Then procede to fill the container with kerosene and completely submerse the torch. Make sure the wick is fully saturated with kerosene, remove it, and shake it off until almost no droplets come off. Move into an open area away from anything remotely flammable and light the torch (It is easiest to use a lighter to do this)
A few rules of the torch:
1. Never tilt the torch at more than a 45 degree angle away from verticle (Go ahead and hold it upside down if you must see what happens. The flame will climb back up the handle towards your hand and not only risk burning you but will also damage the dowel)
2. Never try to refuel the torch while it is still light. (Seems like common sense, but hey you never know how uncommon some people can be)
3. To extinguish the torch take an old utility towel soaked with water and wrap it around the head of the torch, being careful not to burn yourself, and leave it there for one minute. Remove it and check for any red spots or smoke to indicate if it is still smoldering. If there are no red spots or smoke you can procede to refuel the torch by dunking it back in the container of kerosene. ( The great thing about kerosene is that I have dunked the torch in the container while it was still smoking and giving off embers and it still extinguished it ,so there is little risk of accidentally setting the refueling container on fire, however for safety purposes I must insist that noone attempts that)
4. If you need to use your hands but do not want to extinguis the torch the easiest thing to do is to jab the torch into the ground wick side up.
5. Never throw your light or extinguished torch at anyone (They will not appreciate it if you do)
Onto practicing spraying with water
Step 5: Practice Spraying Water From Your Mouth
You can do this step either with the torch light outdoors, or you could just practice in the shower. I prefer doing this while holding the light torch because it gives you more of a feel for what you will really have to do. Get a bottle of water put about a tablespoon of it in your mouth and practice spraying over the torch with it.
Your goal is not to get a stream of water coming from your mouth but a constant spray. To do this press your lips together, inhale a big breath of air through your nose, and with all the force you have exhale the air into your mouth where it will force the water through your pressed lips, this should result in a fine spray. It will take a bunch of tries to perfect it but eventually you will get it just right, and when that happens you are ready to try it with the real stuff.
Step 6: Safety First
So youve practiced a bunch with the water, and feel confident that you are ready to start using the real thing. Before you do though I must first give some advice on handling kerosene.
So I used to carry around the kerosene in an 8 oz. flask thinking I was cool. However, after a few weeks the kerosene had affected the little piece of rubber (I think it was rubber) in the screw on lid, causing it to expand to many times its original size, and it fell out. Thinking I had a strong enough seal just between the metal cap and the flask I filled it up anyway, slipped it in my pocket, and biked over to my friends house. When I arrived at my friends house I noticed that my pocket was slightly damp and checked the flask, which was dry to the touch, so I didnt think it had leaked. I moved it to another pocket where after 20 minutes the same thing happened, but by this time my leg underneath the first pocket started to itch. I was fairly certain that the kerosene was giving me a chemical burn, but there was nothing much I could do about it.
I emptied out the flask, rubbed it down with paper towels, and replaced it in my pocket, but it was too late my pockets were already soaked with the stuff. I wasnt able to change my pants so I had to walk around for the rest of the day with my kerosene soaked pockets rubbing against the sides of my legs. A few days later the skin was incredibly itchy, and about a week and a half later the skin from the 5x2 inch red square on my leg started to peel. Once the peeling stopped my leg was fine again, but the point of the story is that this is a dangerous chemical and do not leave it in contact with your skin for a prolonged period of time.
Even more importantly TRY AS HARD AS YOU CAN NOT TO ACCIDENTALLY SWALLOW IT. HOWEVER, EVEN WORSE THEN GETTING IT IN YOUR STOMACH IS GETTING IT IN YOUR LUNGS. IT RESULTS IN A SICKNESS CALLED FIREBREATHERS PNEUMONIA (hydrocarbon pneumonitis) SOMETHING YOU DONT WANT TO GET.
Step 7: Now for the Real Thing
The best thing to ingest before attempting this is charcoal tablets bought at a pharmacy, they prevent the fuel from being absorbed into your system if you accidentally swallow any. Before you put anything in your mouth have the light torch and a wet towel close by. (Use the wet towel to wipe your mouth off after each time so no excess kerosene builds up on your face and ignites, that would be bad) The most important thing to remember the first time is to start small and work your way up. Its hard (not impossible) to burn yourself with just a quarter of a tablespoon of kerosene in your mouth, so make sure you start off with a small amount.
When you feel you are ready take a small sip of the kerosene, close your lips, and hold it in your mouth. Pick up the torch in one hand and the wet towel in the other. Hold the torch slightly closer then arm fully extended. (Make sure you are facing the direction the wind is blowing) Take a big breath in through your nose and with your head tilted slightly upward spray the kerosene out over the flame. When there is no kerosene left in your mouth quickly wipe around your mouth with the wet towel.
Now for an explanation for some of this. The reason you want to hold the torch far away from your face is so you can avoid a blowback. A blowback is when the flame travels along the stream reaching your mouth and burning your face. Blowbacks can be avoided in three easy ways
1. Never overfill your mouth with kerosene (If your lungs run out of capacity before your mouth is empty the flame will travel back into your face, if you feel this is about to happen the best thing to do is to quickly open your lips and spit out the remaining liquid, and bring the wet towel infront of your face to protect from any flames)
2. Always keep the torch a safe (at least 2 feet) distance from your face. (As you can see in the photos the flame traveled towards my mouth from the torch, but I ran out of kerosene before it hit my face)
3. Always spray as fast as possible, this will make it harder for the flame to reach your face.
Some basic rules:
1. Never play dragon and set anyone on fire
2. Never do it in an area with anything flammable
3. Make sure there is nothing ahead of you for at least 25 feet and nothing above you for 20
4. Never do this indoors
5. Always have a fire extinguisher, bucket of water, and wet towel
6. Never do this under the influence of alchol or drugs, HOWEVER you can do this in the PRESENCE OF THOSE who are under their influence (Its a very easy way to entertain drunk people, but then again what isnt)
Again heres the link to the videos of me breathing fire http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2276917600442809328
Step 8: Oh and I Almost Forgot
To easily transport the kerosene I recommend using a clear plastic waterbottle, with the lable removed, and "do not drink" clearly printed on the side.
Oh and something to watch out for on your torch, if the wood underneath the wick starts to shrink that means that the wood is being burned when your torch is light. If the damage isnt too great, you could try to repair it by removing the wick and adding another can and some more aluminum foil. However, if it has already gotten as bad as it is in the photo, there is a risk of it breaking off and that would be really bad, so it would be best to just remove the wick and use it on a new handle.
Random note #1: Of the 100+ times ive done this ive only burned myself twice, both minor burns just on my lips, the first one I overfilled my mouth, and the second one I didnt have enough air in my lungs to push all the kerosene out of my mouth.
Random note #2: After your done firebreathing you will want to get the taste of kerosene out of your mouth, I suggest any type of mint, however you do not want to use gum because the small amount of residual kerosene in you mouth will dissolve the gum and you will be left with a big mouth of goo (Go ahead and try it, its actually kind of weird)