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
For the fireball:
- 100% cotton (from t-shirt)
- 100% cotton thread
- Rubbing alcohol (70% or 90%(hotter)), or lighter fluid (VERY HOT)
- 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.
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
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!
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!
Push the needle through the ball again, and tie a knot. Cut off any remaining thread.
Step 6: 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!
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.