Fire Breathing for Noobs

So today, I was surfing the interblarg when I should have been working, and I came across this…

fire breathing

over at instructables.com. Now, it’s a pretty decent guide, but doesn’t really highlight the risks of fire breathing.

I’ve been breathing fire on and off for about four years now, and before I got into it, I wanted to make sure that I understood the risks. There are real risks in this, the most dangerous of the fire arts.

1. Getting Burned
I’ve burned off parts of my eyebrows, eyelashes, nose hair and the front of my head hair before. Oddly enough I’ve never burned off my beard or mustache hair, although I try to keep it trimmed down as much as possible, just in case. My lips, nose and other parts of my face have been burned. My hands and fingers have been burned from my fire wand. The roof of my mouth has been burned, also by my fire wand. Luckily, none of my burns have been severe or have left scars. No matter what anyone tells you, you will get burned.

2. Dental Problems
The fuel that I use (kerosene, lamp oil, paraffin, etc) has a nasty habit of making my gums recede and become a bit discolored. After awhile I could wiggle a good number of my teeth around, since I take pride in my teeth, this was a bit disturbing. When you put fuel into your mouth, it has this nasty tendency to get absorbed by the pores in your mouth.

3. Cancer
How would you like mouth, throat, lung, kidneys and liver cancer? I hear it’s always a bitch. Luckily, I don’t have it yet. Prolonged exposure to your fuel, can give you cancer. If you do this stuff for years, you are risking your health. Granted, some fuels seem safer than others, always check out the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) BEFORE you put FLAMMABLE LIQUIDS into your BODY.

As an example, check out the MSDS for Lamplight Farms Ultra Pure Lamp Oil.

4. You Feel Like Shit
Remember how I said that you absorb the fuel through the pores in your mouth? Well, what happens when you drink a bunch of flammable liquid? You generally start to feel like shit. Sure, the “buzz” that you get feels like you’re a little drunk, but I always had a wicked headache after awhile. Even if you try to coat the inside of your mouth with something to cut down the absorption, you’re still gonna swallow your fuel. Even though you never mean for it to happen, it ALWAYS happens.

Nausea, headache, dizziness, fever, coughing, diarrhea, etc will all be old friends after awhile. It’s just something you get used to. Make sure you have a bottle of water (or milk) handy to help wash the fuel out of your mouth and rehydrate you. It takes a bit out of a person to constantly put flammable liquids in their body. You’re basically poisoning yourself over and over and over…

5. Blowback
Ah blowback. Scourge of the fire breather. When you learn how to breathe fire, you get used to the flames getting a little close to your face, it goes with the territory…but blowback is a bit worse. While I’ve had the flames close enough to my face to singe hair, I’ve never actually had my face catch on fire. All it takes is the wind to shift, or to screw up, or to breathe in too early. Does your face catching on fire worry you? How about the inside of your mouth catching on fire? How about breathing in flammable vapor and having the fire sucked down into your lungs?

Fuck getting burned, or being nauseas, or slowly developing cancer, or your teeth falling out of your head…YOU CAN FUCKING DIE. All it takes is that wind to shift (and trust me, it happens) and the next thing you know you are in the hospital emergency room with a collapsed lung.

Another possible danger you might run into during your fire breathing career comes from listening to stupid shits that don’t know what the fuck they are talking about. It seems that once you have this amazing skill and you have put a good deal of time into research, practice, testing, etc that some moron tries tells you what they think you should be doing. Do you really want to take advice from some douchebag that hasn’t done it themselves? Do you really want to risk your life because someone else insists that they are right?

I’ve had people tell me that I should use ethanol (pure alcohol) as a fuel.
Alcohol has a lower flash point than kerosene/paraffin/lamp oil. This means that Alcohol will catch fire quicker than kerosene/paraffin/lamp oil. This means that the flames will travel back along the flammable vapor to reach my face faster. I do not like the idea of catching my face on fire.

I’ve had people tell me that I should use petrol (gasoline) as a fuel.
Gasoline has a much much much lower flash point than kerosene; see the above info on Alcohol as to why a low flash point is bad. Gasoline contains toxins that are carcinogenic, which means that it will give me cancer. If I get cancer from putting gasoline in my mouth, my doctor will laugh at me, and I will also die.

I’ve had people tell me to smear Vaseline (petroleum jelly) on/in/around my mouth and/or face.
Petroleum jelly has a melting point of just a little above 100°F. Fire is much hotter than 100°F. This means that the flames will melt the petroleum jelly WHILE IT IS ON MY FUCKING FACE and burn the shit out of my face/mouth/whatever.

Petroleum jelly is like oil, when it gets hot it retains the heat and takes a while to cool down. This means that while I’m running around in pain because the petroleum jelly has MELTED ONTO MY FACE it will stay nice and hot (e.g. oh god the pain is excruciating) for a very long time.

Petroleum jelly also traps heat inside, meaning that after I am done running around screaming with a face full of hot death, the petroleum jelly will make sure to keep my burns nice and toasty!

Petroleum jelly also happens to be flammable! While it has a relatively high flash point, I’d rather not increase the risk that I’ll CATCH MY FUCKING FACE ON FIRE any higher than it already is.

I’ve had people tell me that I should give them a quick fire breathing demonstration indoors.
While it’s always nice to entertain guests in the comfort of someone’s home, it’s usually rude to BURN THE HOUSE DOWN.

I’ve had people tell me that I should breathe fire into the wind.
When you throw, pee, spray, or spit things into the wind, the wind usually carries them right back to you and hits you in the face with them.

Every time that I’ve had some know-it-all try to tell me what is what, all I do is put on a friendly smile and insist that they go right ahead and give it a shot. At this point people usually realize that they actually have no fucking clue what they’re doing and they shut the fuck up with a lame ass excuse. Some people actually take the fire torch in their hand, take a swig of lamp oil and try to breathe a little fire…it’s always funny to see them accidentally put out the fire torch with a big glob of fuel and then see their look of realization that they have no clue about what the fuck they are trying to do.

So, if you’re cool with risking your life, impressing women (or men), and are willing to put the time needed to learn the ins and outs of fire breathing I say good luck. Make sure you do a good deal of reading, a good deal of practicing and don’t listen to anyone that doesn’t know what the fuck they are talking about.

Useful links:
Fire Eating and Fire Breathing FAQ
Basics of Fire Breathing
Fire Breathing Accident (Story)
Making Your Own Fire Torch

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