*Supplementary material for personal instruction



This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/.

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Version 1.1 Copros H Lawson 12-1-16


Contents:


Cover

Copyright

Version History


Contents

Dedications

How to use this manual

  1. Fire Eating 101

    1. Intro

    2. Safety

    3. Fuels

    4. Eating

  2. Fire Eating 102

    1. Overview

    2. Fleshing

    3. Extinguishes

    4. Vapour

    5. Flourishes

  3. Fire Eating 103

    1. Special effects

    2. Stage presence

    3. Working with other performers

  4. Acknowledgements


Dedications - This manual is dedicated to everybody who inspires fire performance. As well as those who aspire to be a fire performer. Those who have trail blazed and defined this art. And those who do all these things, with safety and accident mitigation in mind. Thank you all! I hope we can use this manual to help us continue these good works!


How to use this manual - This course material is intended to accompany personal instruction. I have put this under the creative commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International licence This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon this work even for commercial purposes, as long as they credit Copros Lawson and license their new creations under the identical terms. It is my hope that this manual can evolve with well thought out revisions by many knowledgeable people. You can make donations for the existing work and possible future revisions, as well as revision suggestions by e-mailing kope23@gmail.com


Fire eating 101

by Kopernous Sparks (Copros Lawson)



Introduction:  THIS COURSE MATERIAL IS INTENDED TO ACCOMPANY PERSONAL INSTRUCTION!


The safety section of this course is not meant to be a stand alone safety course. It tries to address fire eating safety specifically and should be seen as supplementary to other fire and safety courses such as the highly recommended Flow Arts Institute online courses. And the N.A.F.A.A. Performer guidelines.


The dangers of fire eating are very real, and do extended to other people and their property. When you choose to light something on fire you are responsible for those dangers. You should always have a fire blanket & extinguisher ready for your fire watch or fire safety personnel. A charged phone is always a good idea. Remember self care. Eat food and stay hydrated. Don't drink or eat foods that may make you extra gassy. You don't want to burp with fuel in your mouth, it can bring fuel back up from your thought which you can then inhale causing chemical pneumonia. Even a small amount of fuel in the digestive tract can cause irritable bowels. You will burn yourself and probably swallow some fuel, with practice you will do this less often.


  • Rinse for safety - White gas does not linger in the mouth as lamp oil does but if you are doing much more than casual eating you should rinse and spit. Definitely rinse after a session including any kind of pulls. While the benefits of this are not well proven little in our field is, and I can not think of any harm it would cause.


  • Burns in the mouth & Burns on the skin1 -

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  • I am not going to go over all of burn first aid you should get this information from accredited health professionals. However here are some tips I’ve gathered over the years.

    • The body reaches for nutrients, eating beforehand gives you some to draw on.

    • L-lysine is a dietary supplement associated with lip cell renewal.

    • Sugar helps small burns in the mouth heal faster

    • Hempz spray, this stuff is great for keeping burns on the skin moisturized. Moist Burn pads(second skin) can greatly reduce healing time.

2ndSkinMoistPads_ns.jpg


Some dangers of fuel in the respiratory system -


Chemical pneumonitis: Many substances can cause chemical pneumonia, including liquids, gases, and small particles, such as dust or fumes, also called particulate matter. Some chemicals only harm the lungs; however, some toxic materials affect other organs in addition to the lungs and can result in serious organ damage or death. Aspiration pneumonia is another form of chemical pneumonia. Aspiration means that you breathe oral secretions or stomach contents into your lungs. The inflammation comes from the toxic effects of stomach acid and enzymes on lung tissue. Bacteria from the stomach or mouth can also cause a bacterial pneumonia. Chemical pneumonia is only one type of lung inflammation. Symptoms of Chemical Pneumonia Signs and symptoms of chemical pneumonia vary greatly, and many factors can determine its seriousness. For instance, someone exposed to chlorine in a large outdoor pool may have only a cough and burning eyes. Someone else exposed to high levels of chlorine in a small room may die of respiratory failure.

Gas Huffers & the Effects of Sniffing Gasoline: Hydrocarbons in petrol depress the central nervous system and this can create a state similar to alcohol intoxication. Lead adds to the effect of intoxication. Even unleaded gasoline can still contain small traces of lead. This can increase the ability of the substance to produce hallucinations. It doesn’t take long to become intoxicated from sniffing petrol; usually not more than five minutes, and people will feel the effects after just one minute. The petrol fumes enter the lungs, and from there into the bloodstream and on up to the brain. The typical effects that users of this inhalant will experience include: Euphoria, Numbness, Disorientation, Hallucinations, Slurred speech, Lack of coordination, Slowed down reflexes, Increased libido, Dizziness, A feeling of lightness, Disassociation with the environment, Coughing, Vomiting, Impaired decision making, Muscle weakness, Increased chattiness and extroversion. The Dangers of Sniffing Gasoline. Sniffing petrol can have a devastating effect on the body long-term. Even short-term use of this inhalant can be dangerous. Gasoline contains an alarming number of different toxins that can seriously harm the body. Over a period of time these toxins will build up in the body until they start to damage the different organs including the brain. Some of the most common dangers include: Respiratory problems, Permanent brain damage, Depressed immune system, Blood abnormalities, Heart damage, Liver and kidney damage, Chronic headaches, Chronic fatigue, Nosebleeds, Irregular heart beat, Miscarriages, High and low blood pressure, Lung infections, Brain hemorrhage, Seizures, Coma, Death.


Aside from the personal health dangers there are a few other things to be aware of. Considerations about your costume and others attire are critical when dealing with fire. As is understanding your environment, audience and fuels. The safest course is to always wear the appropriate weave and weight natural fabric, or fire resistant synthetics such as nomex and kevlar. Though you can mitigate the dangers of some risky clothing.


Safety -


Clothing / costume


  • Natural fibers & new synthetics

    • Natural fiber weight(heavy) and weave(tight)

    • New synthetics include nomex and kevlar


  • Fire resistant treatments

    • Longevity (1yr.)

    • Spray on (liquid)


  • Synthetic fabric  

    • Plastic4

    • Dangerous for your safety personnel


  • Risk mitigation

    • Costume layering

    • Informed equipped safeties

    • Adaptable setup


Environment


  • Outside - Spin Jams, parties.

    • Wind

    • Dry Grass

    • Trees

    • Houses


  • Inside - Clubs, houses, garages watch out for!

    • Curtains

    • Decor

    • Electronics

    • Fans

    • Fire suppression systems

    • Carpets

    • Ceilings

    • Furniture

    • Dry forgotten stuff


Other Considerations


  • Spray off - If you don't deal with your excess fuel lit droplets and splashes can light everything around you on fire5


  • Audience - You should assess what kind of risk your audience presents. Are they too close? Are they not looking at you? Are they drunk otherwise incapable of making rational choices? Take the appropriate precautions depending on the risks


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Fuels  The kind of fuel used is specific but fairly common. We’ll go over a few fuels and why you shouldn't or in one case should use them.

  • Lamp oil - Not commonly used for eating it is smokey, takes a long time to light with few vapours. There is an increased chance of chemical pneumonia due in part to its oily viscosity and it’s tendency to linger in the mouth and throat.

  • White gas - Commonly used for fire eating with the preferred brand of Colemans Camp Fuel in the U.S. Also known as Naptha it lights easily and creates lots of vapours. It evaporates quickly and can seep into your skin readily.6

  • Alcohol - Not commonly used for fire eating it has a small nearly invisible blue flame. Also it can stay lit on your skin with little oxygen deep inside your mouth.


  • Other countries - Aside from being in another language and quite possibly a different brand other countries sometimes call fuels by different names. Your best bet is to find some locals to ask.

  • Other fuels - Most other fuels are derivatives or very similar to the mentioned fuels. Stick to white gas, poop lights on fire but I wouldn't put it in my mouth.




Torch construction - Torch heads are preferably made from Kevlar though they can be made from cotton. They will almost always be sewn and may have some glue. They should also have a secure hardware attachment point to the shaft and no exposed metal on the head. Shafts can be made from a wide variety of things from wood to metal, using common sense. Torches are made using kevlar (historically  cotton) yarn or tape. Torch heads should be replaced as needed. To make them last as long as possible always keep them wrapped up or in a secure case when not in use. Do not burn them very long in the vapor stage as the fabric of the wick will be burning at this point . Keep any frays in control with a small sharp knife, nail clippers or a pair of scissors. You can also in conjuction use white glue to help everything stay together.

7101-7.jpg/8/9



Eating - Fire eating works in seconds, everything about it pushes the envelope. A wet tongue gives you a few seconds, as does a tilted head. And you can only hold the flame for seconds as well. These stunts work because of the physics of fire. A couple main points being thermal rise or that heat travels up. And thermal lag, the effect of heat being cumulative.


Fueling - When choosing a place to fuel you should use caution and common sense. Choose a secure space away from interference. Limit the amount of fuel with you to the amount needed to minimize risk.

  • Where to fuel

    • Not on stage

    • Secured space

    • Keep the lid closed when not actively fueling

    • Fuel amounts



  • Containers


1011/12

  • Labeling

flammable liquid stencil.jpg   bilingual-no-smoking-stencil-with-graphic.png

  • Seals

  • Stability

  • Dealing with excess fuel. - Spin off, sponge off.12.1/12.2


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Lighting up


  • Fuel Stages -13 It is very important to understand the differences in your fuel stages.

    • Beginning - Liquid - In the liquid stage lit fuel will easily stick to your fingers and other body parts. The flame will be large and hover around the wick.


  • Middle - Gas - In the gas stage you will have to squeeze firmly to get any lit fuel on your fingers. The flame will still be large but it will hover closer to the wick.


  • End - Vapour - In vapour stage you will not be able to pull fire off the torch effectively. The flame will be smaller and cling closely to the wick.


Fuel exists within the wick as both a liquid and as vapour, from the start of the burn until the end of the burn. The difference causing us to be more or less able to do the various stunts us not down to the state of the fuel, but down to the quantity of fuel left within the wick. Logic then  dictates that more available fuel will mean a wetter wick and the potential for fuel to transfer easily, and more wet surface area to produce vapour - while little fuel will mean a dryer wick with lesser quantities of fuel evaporating at once, meaning a smaller amount of vapour produced, and also a lower risk of fuel being able to be squeezed out of the wick.

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Your First Eat

  • Shot glass jelly jar example 15


  • Lick the flame - Get used to it being close to your face and learn how hot it is on your tongue. How long before the spit is gone 14


  • Inhale, inhale again. - Wet the entire inside of your mouth with spit. Hold your breath the whole time unless you are huffing at the end for a snuff or other effect.


Tip entry (straight down) 16

  • Head back, eyes to the sky

  • Torch tip to tongue tip.

  • Lip flared smile to present the least skin to the fire

  • Use your tongue to guide the torch into your mouth

  • Holding the torch in your mouth close your teeth and lips without touching the shaft. The fuel stage and oxygen level will determine how long it will take for the torch to go out. (The smaller you close your mouth and lips the less oxygen there will be to burn)


  • Rear entry (snuff) 17

    • Head tilted slightly

    • Base of torch head to tongue

    • Use your tongue to guide the torch

    • Tilt into mouth & close mouth simultaneously

    • After a moment as the flame chases the oxygen out of your mouth huff a single puff of air out to extinguish the pilot light


  • Entry angles

    • When eating in the wind angle the flame away from your face 18

  • Rinse for a cleaner pallet.   







.

Fire eating 102

by Kopernous Sparks (Copros Lawson)

*This course outline is intended to be a supplement to in person instruction


Tricks/Moves - There is no way to list all the possible variations of the basic tricks, but here are some to get started. Some tricks are best done during different fuel stages liquid, gas or vapour. Retention is the act of keeping a flame going without a torch. Many transfers happen after retention. There are also many names for tricks I have, tried to include as many variations as possible.


Fleshing - Ambient/skin temperature, blow out and wipe out, Liquid and beginning of gas stage.


  • Grab the fire - Grab the bottom of a lit torch squeezing just enough to get a little lit gas on your fingers.


  • Lollipop - Lick a lit torch with the comfort and ease of a lollipop 1


  • Immolation - Pass the torch under the arm or other body part. 2

    • Trailing - Running the torch over the body retaining the flame. 3


  • Finger transfer - Grab the bottom of a lit torch squeezing just enough to get a little lit gas on your fingers, retaining the fire on your fingers light the other torch. 4

    • Tongue transfer - In the eat position squeeze the tip of the torch with your tongue and teeth, retaining the fire on your tongue light the waiting unlit torch. 5

    • Point Transfer - Press the lit torch at any point on your body retaining the flame there light the waiting unlit torch


  • Fire kiss - Grasp the torch, retain the flame on your palm blowing a kiss to the audience through it.  6


  • Body transfer (shotgun)(fuse) -Draw an unlit torch over part of your body place a lit torch on the place your unlit torch started the flame will trace over your body to light the unlit torch. Ensure the flame trail goes out by wiping or blowing it out.7

    • Lovelite - Hold a lighter in your hand ready to light, starting from the lighter draw an unlit torch up your arm. Light the lighter, the flame will trace up your arm to the torch, lighting it. Ensure your arm goes out by wiping or blowing it out. 8


  • Shoeing the flame - Put the torch in your mouth and remove it without extinguishing


  • Torch holds (teething) - Guide the torch into your mouth with your tongue like an eat but stop half way. Flare your lips back and smile a little to give them a little more pull you may want to exhale slightly to move the heat away from you. 9



.



Extinguishes -


  • Blow - Either hold the torch sideways and blow sharply 10 or blow strongly and steadily from the bottom to the top of the torch 10


  • Eat - 11 Tip entry (straight down) tilt your head back, with your eyes to the sky put the torch tip to your tongue tip, with your lips flared into a smile to present the least skin to the fire, use your tongue to guide the torch into your mouth. Holding the torch in your mouth close your teeth and lips without touching the shaft. The fuel stage and oxygen level will determine how long it will take for the torch to go out. (The smaller you close your mouth and lips the less oxygen there will be to burn)

    • Neverending eat - Start with your head tilted back and both torches pointing up pull one torch into your mouth for an eat. After its extinguished switch the torches lighting the unlit one as they pass each other. 12

    • Multiple torches - Bring both torches together lining them up eat both at the same time being extra careful of the hot metal shafts as they are spread farther apart and so closer to the corners of your mouth 13


  • Snuff - Head tilted slightly Base of torch head to tongue Use your tongue to guide the torch Tilt into mouth & close mouth simultaneously After a moment as the flame chases the oxygen out of your mouth huff a single puff of air out to extinguish the pilot light 14


  • Grasp - Starting with your pinkie finger cut off the oxygen to the torch by closing your hand laying your thumb on the top. You can also give it a little shake at the end to help it go out  15

    • Side grasp pull - With your hand held the opposite direction start the grasp effect pulling and pinching to complete the move 16

    • Multigrasp - Holding a torch in each hand drop each torch head into your hand performing simultaneous grasps 17


  • JellyFish (whip extinguish) - Holding the torch in line with the flame (straight up with no wind) Raise the torch at the same speed the fire is burning using all the oxygen in the pocket of air left behind. Sharply pull the torch into this oxygenless pocket of air causing the flame to go out. This is a very tricky move and will probably require lots of practice, especially at alternate angles. Remember to watch your jellyfish, you will make small corrections because of this increased awareness of the flame. Some people even see a slightly darker zone where the oxygen is decreased. 18

    • Transfers

    • Sideways 18.1

    • Upside down 18.2

    • Wingardium (Horizontal Jellyfish) - 19 Billy Tempest

    • Elevator (sideways pull Jellyfish) - 20 Shade Flamewater


  • Prometheus - This is a very unreliable trick, the goal is to put a lit torch in your mouth collect the vapours and flame pulling the torch out unlit while retaining the flame in your mouth with a candle or volcano. I have done this once on accident at the very end of my burn time on a torch 21



Vapour - As already stated, fuel exists within the wick as both a liquid and as vapour, from the start of the burn until the end of the burn. The difference causing us to be more or less able to do the various stunts us not down to the state of the fuel, but down to the quantity of fuel left within the wick. Logic then  dictates that more available fuel will mean a wetter wick and the potential for fuel to transfer easily, and more wet surface area to produce vapour - while little fuel will mean a dryer wick with lesser quantities of fuel evaporating at once, meaning a smaller amount of vapour produced, and also a lower risk of fuel being able to be squeezed out of the wick.



  • Wick collections -  21.1

    • Cannon balls (moon shots - shoot the moon) -Tilt your head back, hold an unlit torch above your mouth about a foot away. Guide a lit torch into your mouth with your tongue after collecting the vapours huff out to extinguish the torch in your mouth and blow a fireball up to the waiting torch lighting it. 22

      • Neverending cannonballs - Switch torch positions after a cannonball and do another  23

      • Horizontal cannon balls (shoot the river) - Hold the waiting unlit torch a little less than a foot away from your mouth when your head's in a relaxed position. Tilt your head back, guide a lit torch into your mouth with your tongue. After collecting the vapours tilt your head down and look at the unlit torch  huff out to extinguish the torch in your mouth and blow a fireball over to the waiting torch lighting it 24

    • Human candle - Tilt your head back, guide a lit torch into your mouth with your tongue. After collecting the vapours pull the torch directly up and out of your mouth keeping your lips close to or on the torch retaining vapour and flame. Do not breathe out, instead slowly close your mouth and push out vapour with your tongue. If you breathe out or huff you will get a weak volcano. 25

    • Jack’O Lantern (this can also be done with a match) - Tilt your head back, guide a lit torch into your mouth with your tongue. After collecting the vapours pull the torch directly up and out of your mouth keeping your lips close to or on the torch retaining vapour and flame. Do not breathe out. Tilt your head down and widen your mouth keeping the flame inside and showing it off. 26


  • Wick pulls - Remember to inhale and inhale again before attempting any wick pulls. Do not inhale with vapour or fire in your mouth. Wick pulls are similar to dragging off a cigar, if you have never done this think about sucking on an oversized straw. Remember that you want your torch as cool as possible and you do not want to do this in the liquid stage at all. (dead wicks have some vapour still even if they're burnt out) Tilt your head all the way back, guide a torch deep in your mouth letting the flame rush to the top. Wrap your lips around the wick and suck (with your mouth not your lungs) as you pull it out

    • Volcano - . Light the vapours before the torch leaves your face push out with your tongue then huff pushing all the vapour out 27

    • Extended Human candle - Light the vapours before the torch leaves your face tighten your lips into a tiny “o” and keep your breath held. Only push out enough with your tongue and cheeks to keep the flame off your lips. 28

    • Fire balls - Light the vapours any time with your mouth in a tiny “o” click your jaw to get only a puff of it to come out.29

      • Multi-fireballs  - As you get better you will be able to make many fireballs.


  • Vapour (Hollow) torches -  Remember to inhale and inhale again before attempting any hollow wick pulls. Do not inhale with vapour or fire in your mouth. You do not want to do this in the liquid stage at all. You will be keeping the wick lower than the base of the torch the entire time. Hollow wick pulls are similar to dragging off a cigarette, if you have never done this think about sucking on a straw. You want your torches warm to make as many vapours as possible. (dead wicks have some vapour still even if they're burnt out) If you have any liquid on your lips after you pull be sure to wipe it off before you light the vapour.

    • Blow flare -  Blow on the end of a lit hollow vapour torch to make the flame increase dramatically in size.30

    • Pressured candles - Can be done with wick collections and pulls but they really shine with the amount of vapour easily accessible from hollow torches. With your head back and a mouth full of vapour, purse your lips into a tiny “o” about the size of a cocktail straw, bring the torch almost all the way to your lips to light the stream of vapour. Don't breathe out, instead simply close your mouth(not your lips) and push with your tongue to keep the stream flowing.  31

      • Horizontal - Work your candle down into the horizontal position gradually until you can start there. 32

      • Spins etc. - Once you can retain a horizontal calendar try doing a spin. 33

    • Backflash transfers - Light an unlit torch with a backflash. Use a blowflare on a hollow torch to get a greater distance between the lit and unlit torches 34


Flourishes


  • Flourofish - Start with your torch holding arm across your body, held low. Pull your arm back across your body moving the torch the opposite direction (antispin) and up into a Jellyfish complete the move by following the motion for a bit with your torch.  35 Shade Flamewater


  • Tech - Tech flourishes are a huge category unto themselves. Club and double staff moves tend to transition well. There are many YouTube tutorials on this.   36

  • Finger spins - Along with posturing finger spins are the more classic flourishes 37


  • Posturing / Posing - 38


  • Floor transfer -39


  • Flame Toss - These are basically failed jellyfish transfers that can be combined with many flourishes


Combos


  • Multi Grasp / Jellyfish with candle - Extinguish two torches while retaining a candle 40


  • Candle Shotgun - Light a shotgun with a candle 41


  • Hold Cannonballs - Do a cannonball with a torch held in your mouth 42


  • Fire Kiss with Horizontal Candle - Light a horizontal candle while blowing a fire kiss


  • Parachute (Jellyfish to Pressure candle)

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Fire eating 103

by Kopernous Sparks (Copros Lawson)

*This course outline is intended to be a supplement to in person instruction


Extras


Special effects & Misdirection with fire (magic)



  • Lyco (Dragons breath) - Lycopodium is a spore from the ground pine plant. Lyco is put in a puffer, squeeze bottle or special hollow torch. Then puffed over the flame causing half foot to four foot flames. The spores are flammable inert when not airborne making them a safer fire effect. Currently Renegade Juggling, Gora fire toys, and various small international exporters are the best places to get it.

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  • Sklitter - A mix of titanium, vanadium, magnesium, and aluminum. Sold in a coarse and fine grade. While this powdery metallic substance can be lit on fire with high heat like a blow torch or fire toy. Pyrate Ninja sells the coarse kind under the name sklitter and Theater effects sells the fine kind under the name sparkle additive.

    • Unicorn Farts - A mixture of sklitter and lyco


  • Flash Paper -  flash papers are sheets of paper or cloth made from nitrocellulose, which burn almost instantly with a bright flash, leaving no ash. Available from magic retailers.


  • Colored Smoke - Smoke bombs come in a variety of colors and toxicity levels. Do research the kind of smoke bombs you're getting many are not suitable for indoor use and those that are still require adequate ventilation.  


  • Colored Fire - Colored fire is almost always made by mixing mineral salts and other chemicals with denatured alcohol. As with smoke bombs research the product you are getting. None of this is suitable for indoor use as far as I know.


  • Snap Flash - I’m still not really sure what this stuff is! It comes in two tiny little bottles as a white and a red/brown powder, You put a little on your finger and thumb, press them together then snap. The result is like a match with nothing to burn, a slight explosion with a little fire. Just enough fire to light a torch.





  • Torch to rose is a special torch with an extra small head that a fabric flower attached to the shaft of the torch fits around. The illusion is created by holding the flower in your hand, lighting the torch and with a flick of the wrist sending the flower up to the torch head covering it and smothering the flame.



  • The audience will often watch the lit torch. Dead wick pulls are a great example of this put to effect as the audience will often not realize you are pulling if you’re waving a lit torch in front of you.




Stage presence


  • Talking / audience interaction -


  • Character building

    • Costuming


  • Trick Failure

    • Push through, move on. They don't know if you don't show it.


  • Eating to music

  • Timing

  • Song choice (play to your audience in the moment)


  • Time limits

  • Multiple torches -

  • Jars -

  • Bags

  • Foil


Working with other performers

  • Multi-person tricks

  • Choreography

  • Integration for larger fire performance

  • Integration for other performance & events

  • Do not compromise safety





Acknowledgements


Special thanks to Brian Brushwood, Shade Flamewater, Billy Tempest and Carisa Hendrix all of whom contributed to this through their own work. Also to Morgue Anne, Twisted Trystan, Megan Harley MacDonald, Andi Frink and the rest of the Jaded crew.