Introduction: How NOT to Build a Fire Breathing Dragon Mask

About: I build stuff because it isn't available to buy, or is too expensive, or the ones you can buy don't do what I want them to. Sometimes I don't have a reason, I just want to build something. For me it's about t…

The theme of this years halloween party, was Legends and Fairy Tales. My friend and I decided to go as George and the Dragon.

I don’t do half measures. If I’m making a dragon costume… It’s going to be a fire breathing dragon costume!

The mask was made from cardboard glued together with evostick. It is inherently flammable. The tinfoil coating similarly. There is no shield between the flame and the wearers face. There was no way of extinguishing the flame.

To summarise the above. This is a bad plan. Verging on a wanton disregard for ones own safety.

I had a friend on standby with a water hose just in case. And I have experience in the burn rates of the materials involved. I made the assessment that if it were to catch fire, it would be gradually, and give me enough time to get the helmet off my head, and toss the fuel and battery. The biggest risk comes from the butane leaking into the mask volume, in which case there is the potential for asphyxiation, and an explosive/flammable atmosphere. I've experienced this on my arms and hands before. It is not an enjoyable experience. I lost quite a considerable amount of skin on my hands. I reconciled myself that if things were to go wrong, I'd lose my eye lashes, eyebrows, fringe, and beard, along with receiving blisters and losing skin in patches all over my face.

For these reasons, I highly recommend you do not recreate this deathtrap. The instructions found here are a guide on what I have done, and why it was a bad idea. I have since re-done this project, and it's much safer in many respects... Still way too dangerous to condone recreation...

Step 1: The Mask...

The mask was constructed from paper craft instructions from Wintercroft. It's called "dragon mask v2".

Here's a link:

I used corrugated card board. This is not a good choice of material. It is too thick, tears in the middle, and bends preferentially in one plane. Cereal box card would be a better choice. As would Aluminium... (foreshadowing, perchance?...)

I used the plastic helmet strap out of a cheap welding mask I had spare.

Step 2: The Igniter

The igniter was a nichrome coil. The idea to get it above the auto-ignition temperature of Butane and then spray the butane across it. I used the thickest Nichrome I could get, because I was told it could be quite flimsy and fragile while hot. In retrospect, a thinner gauge would have drawn less current, and gotten hotter, faster.

I bought a 1.5 Metre length of NiChrome Wire, 60% Nickel 15% Chromium 25% Iron, 6.83 Ohms per Metre. 26WG 0.457 mm 0.018” Diameter This wire can be used for Amp meter shunts and wire wound resistors. It is very corrosion resistant and will work at up to 1100C.

I used a ceramic terminal block, otherwise that would melt and short almost instantaneously. Something like this:

I powered it with a four cell LiFePo4 battery I happened to have. It worked fine.

To get the length right. Wire up your Nichrome into the ceramic block at full length. Then pull it through a little at a time until it glows orange, almost yellow hot. If it burns out: Ye have gone too far. Then coil that up around a thick pen, or what ever you have.

Takes a solid 10 seconds ish to warm up. The glow from the wire provides a cool warning that things are about to get hot.

Step 3: The Fuel System

I used a length of silicone rubber fuel hose, used usually for Nitro cars. Something like this:

One end had an adapter from the lid of the butane can. The other had a 2" length of copper pipe.

I just used the valve in the can to control the fuel. Used a length of wood and aluminium as a handle. Just makes it easier to hold onto and control with one hand. Shake the can for bigger flames.

Step 4: The Flame Chamber, Putting It All Together

I got an empty spray paint can. Held it open until it no longer made a sound. Then used a can opener to take the bottom off.

Being careful of the sharp edge, I cleaned out the inside with some rags and white spirit.

Then I drilled out the valve in the top with a 4.5mm drill bit, and drifted in the piece of 5mm copper pipe from the end of the fuel hose. And secured it in place with some epoxy resin.

I cut out a slit in the open end of the can, and used epoxy to secure the coil in the opening.

Then neatened it all up by taping the wires to the side of the can, and then to the fuel hose.

Step 5: Mounting the Fire Poofer in the Dragon Mask.

I pretty much cut out the front of the bottom jaw for this. Tried tape and adhesive strips. They get warm and fail quickly. You need to use a bit of wire to hold it in place. I used a bit of aluminium welding rod from my TIG welder.

Step 6: The Results

The mask is made from cardboard glued together with evostick. It is inherently flammable. The tinfoil coating similarly. There is no shield between the flame and the wearers face. There is currently no way of extinguishing the flame.

To summarise the above. This is a bad plan. I can't in good conscience instruct others in how to follow in my footsteps. So I'm not going to detail how I made this.

If you really want to know how I built it, leave a comment asking, and I might reconsider my decision. Pending several safety improvements.

More information on my

Video of it in action: Fire Breathing Dragon Mask Costume Video

Step 7: Video of It in Action