Sciencemadness Discussion Board

Fire resistance

leril - 14-9-2015 at 06:30

Hey, I wonder if it is possible to put yourself on fire without risking your life. If yes, how so? Heard that there is something called fire gel but I know nothing about it.

Thanks for the ideas

szuko03 - 14-9-2015 at 06:53

Unless you are properly trained i am going to strongly advise against this. Sure there are ways to have the fire be superficial and that you appear burning but are not. There is always the chance of you inhaling the fire and burning your lungs or your eyes. I use to put a single glove on coat it with gas and have a flaming fist next to a bucket of water, i was also like 13. I am sorry i dont have the proper advise to even feel remotely comfortable telling you its even a bad idea, its a terrible idea in my mind. Just please dont forget if you are on fire and you breathe air, it too will be on fire.

leril - 14-9-2015 at 07:10

Wouldn't a google and a gas mask fix the issue? Also what If I had some kind of suit on myself and put that on fire?

Detonationology - 14-9-2015 at 10:54

Uhh....yeah. The fire dept. does training exercises with multilayer thermal protective suits all the time. Each layer protects from a different aspect of the fire. The outer material pretty much just blocks the flames, then another protects you from the heat, and then the others just insulate you and wick sweat. Fire boots are designed with the same principals in mind. Haven't you seen movies where a person is running around, swinging their arms while engulfed in flames? So yeah, its possible.

leril - 14-9-2015 at 11:14

Ehm yeah, I've thought about that from the beginning, but a suit like that costs at least 100€ here. Not counting the substence for keeping the fire.
Is it possible to do it for less money?

Bert - 14-9-2015 at 11:22

We do things like that- But I do NOT advise trying at home. It's one of the more dangerous fire gags.

From a manufacturer's web site:

From another supply company:

leril - 14-9-2015 at 11:53

So basically you just coat the gel on your hand for example ablaze it and you shouldn't feel the heat for like 30-60 seconds, right?

unionised - 14-9-2015 at 11:57

Quote: Originally posted by leril  
So basically you just coat the gel on your hand for example ablaze it and you shouldn't feel the heat for like 30-60 seconds, right?

Yep, then you go to hospital and die.

I'm not sure this is the stupidest idea I have seen on this website, but it's a strong contender.

[Edited on 14-9-15 by unionised]

aga - 14-9-2015 at 11:59

Can we please be advised at least a week before the stunt, so we can possibly attend the barbecue ?

Flights etc take some time to organise.

Do we bring our own cutlery, plates, sauces etc or are they included in the stunt ?


Wife wants to know if there is a vegetarian menu.

[Edited on 14-9-2015 by aga]

leril - 14-9-2015 at 12:00

I just wonder how that gel works

aga - 14-9-2015 at 12:06

With Fire and stupidity, the Borg said it best :

Resistance is Futile

DeIonizedPlasma - 14-9-2015 at 20:49

I will assume that by asking this question, you acknowledge any harm that may fall upon you in attempting this.

Naptha lighter fluid burns at a low enough temperature that if your hand is wet, you can soak cotton balls in naptha, light them on fire, and hold the ball without being burnt. This may also cause the fluid to leak onto your hand and catch that on fire, which should be bearable for a few seconds before your skin starts to burn and you lose your precious water. I have also heard of certain gels being spread on actors when they catch fire in movies that achieve something very similar with a layer under a low temperature flame to insulate the person.

Detonationology - 15-9-2015 at 10:00

Think of your hand as the wick of an oil lamp. The petrol does not burn the wick where there is very little oxygen. The vapors ignite above the wick, where a better balance of fuel and oxygen are. If your hands are warm, the fuel will evaporate quicker, and in the air more than on the surface of your hand, but if your hand is cold, you will get burn, but you probably will either way. If you really wanna touch and play with fire, take a cotton string and a cotton ball and tightly wrap the string around the ball, then soak in something flammable, wring it out, and ignite! The surface of the cotton can be handled for short period of time without being burned. Good luck and be safe.

gregxy - 15-9-2015 at 10:31

If you coat an object with a low boiling point flammable liquid, the object cannot be heated above the boiling point of the liquid since, doing so would cause the liquid to boil and the boiling process would absorb all the heat. (you can't heat water above 100C at atmospheric pressure). So the flammable liquid, in a way protects, what it coats from the heat.

The problem is the flammable liquid will burn off unevenly leaving parts unprotected so you will get burned....

mayko - 15-9-2015 at 10:36

When I was younger (so much younger than today), I would entertain myself by pouring a littler rubbing alcohol on my hand and lighting it. I'd have a good several seconds before the heat reached my skin, and the flames were weak enough they could be extinguished with a good shake.

This was great until I was trying to impress someone I was crushing on and went heavy on the alcohol. All was well until I tried to shake the flames out. The fuel which had dribbled down to my elbow didn't get the proper breeze to extinguish it, and it several times reignited my forearm as I flailed. I got a mild second degree burn on my wrist and no makeouts with the crush.

I don't recommend self-immolation.

woelen - 15-9-2015 at 12:10

A mix of carbon tetrachloride and carbon disulfide burns with low temperature and only mild heat tolerance is needed if you cover your hand in a mix of these liquids and ignite the mix.

Carbon tetrachloride, however, is very harmful, also in contact with skin, and it is a known carcinogen. Carbon disulfide also is fairly toxic, albeit not carcinogenic. A less toxic mix can be made from chloroform and carbon disulfide, but I can imagine that this mix burns hotter. But even with chloroform the mix still is nasty. Chlorinated hydrocarbons are bad for your health, some of them being worse than others though.

Making such a mix and burning a piece of paper or a flower, however, might be a nice demo.

Eddygp - 15-9-2015 at 12:48


aga - 15-9-2015 at 13:57

Oh well, seeing as we're now into Pyre dynamics instead of 'let's not get the kid on fire' ...

The trick is to produce more Flame than Heat, insulate the operator (aka victim) and Burn for as short a time as possible ( < 80 seconds max so the victim/operator need not breathe in that time).

Bodily Hair retention is Optional.

So, any takers for the calculated thermodynamics of what will work ?

Not much point suggesting 'this might work' on a Science forum, especially when the Risk is Loss of Life., so some Science please.

Burn rates, energy released, insulation co-efficients, that kind of stuff.

zed - 19-9-2015 at 15:25

Carbon Tet used to be a common flame retardant. Phosgene

Little_Ghost_again - 20-9-2015 at 08:49

We did a demo at school with soap bubbles made from butane gas, they burnt off fast and very little heat. Plus our hands were wet, I wouldnt fancy covering myself in it though.

I like aga's idea of a get together bar b que though, would need to pick a country where we wouldnt be charged with a criminal offense related to being in on the stunt.

[Edited on 20-9-2015 by Little_Ghost_again]

Hawkguy - 20-9-2015 at 09:02

Some kind of water containing solid that sticks to the skin would be nice to insulate the user's body, like a gel or something that is insoluble in Acetone. A bit of TATP dissolved in a water/ Acetone mixture can be poured over the gel. This will burn with brilliant, but not very hot flame, and will burn for maybe a minute or so. Hows that?

aga - 20-9-2015 at 11:50

Safer alternative would be PhotoShop.

zed - 24-9-2015 at 16:14

Again. CarbonTet used to be a common lab item. Lots of industrial use also.

Home fire extinguishers used it. Though, as I stated previously, it can produce Phosgene when used to extinguish flames.

As a bonus, back in the day, we used to figure that if you stuck your hand in a beaker of CarbonTet for 10 minutes of so, that might be enough to blow out your liver, and kill you.

Could be just an urban (college chemistry) rumor, but we chose to honor the spirit of the rumor, and treat Carbon Tet with respect.