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Fireballs

How to blow a fireball

Disclaimer

First of all, playing with highly flammable liquids is dangerous. Lighting them on fire is even more dangerous. Putting them on/inside your body and exposing them to flames is extremely dangerous. Before you even consider something like this, read our safety tips. We've had years of experience, our share of accidents and have developed a relatively safe method of blowing fireballs.

Ideal stream

Ideal stream and distance from ignition

Various fuels

Various fuels

Ignition Source

Ignition source

Fireman's hand covered by wet towel

Fireman's hand covered by wet towel

A failed shot starting the floor on fire

A failed shot starting the floor on fire

Burned chair and carpet

Burned chair and carpet

Technique

What we tell most people blowing their first fireball is "pretend it's a trumpet". You want not to spit in stream of liquid, but a cloud. Practice with water first. Try and get a good mist.

Fuel

A flammable liquid is needed. Your best bet is high-proof grain alcohol-- anything 150 proof or higher should work. Our alcohol of choice is 190 proof pure grain alcohol. It's not a cheap source, but "safe" (i.e. non-toxic) to put in your mouth. WARNING: High proof alcohol *will* numb your mouth in a matter of seconds! Even though you will only have it in your mouth for a few seconds, your mouth will probably go numb afterwards. Other liquids we can not vouch for. See list of what can be used.

Ignition

You will need an ignition source. Anything that burns with an open flame will work. We've used a number of sources, but the best was a propane torch. It has a strong flame that isn't easy to blow out. Also, an empty glass bottle (like an empty wine bottle) with a toilet paper wick doused with grain alcohol works pretty good. Whatever the source, make sure you can either be placed in a stationary location on something non-flammable or held from a distance. Chances are, it will get covered in flammable liquid and start on fire. Don't use a lighter-- the person holding will get burned and you risk melting the lighter the having it blow up. We've tried things like teki-torches as well, but they usually end up starting on fire and falling apart. Don't use a fire pit as an ignition source!

In most cases, you will need someone to hold the ignition source. It's a good idea to cover their arm with (including their hand) with something somewhat fire resistant. A leather coat or a damp towel will do the trick. If you have the ability to attach the flame source securely to a pole, even better. Keep in mind though, duck taping your flame source to a broom handle might seem like a good idea until the duct tape burns off or gets wet and allows the flame source to fall!

Emergency Team

Have an emergency team on stand-by. This is especially important if you're just getting started. Wet towels and a phone for emergencies are a must. A fire extinguisher (preferably C02-- doesn't make a mess) and burn ointment are a good idea if you have them. You will also want someone on stand-by with a "chaser"-- water, soda, beer; something the dragon can rinse their mouth with after they blow their fireball. Trust me, you'll want to.

Location

Although we often do fireballs indoors, THIS IS A BAD IDEA!! We completely trashed carpet, burned furniture and window blinds, started walls on fire and didn't get our security deposed back. Outside on pavement, sand, gravel or dirt is good. On grass isn't recommended, especially in dry weather.

Spectators

Don't allow anyone to be in front of the dragon. Even if you've measure out where the fireball reaches, droplets might still reach an onlooker and ignite (we've had a video camera person start on fire doing this). It's best to have everyone stand behind the dragon. Standing to the side can work as long as they are several feet away. Keep in mind, a large amount of heat comes off fireballs (you'll often see people squinting or backing away in shots because of this).

The shot

Taking a shot of fuel. The amount of liquid the dragon put in their mouth will determine the size and duration of the fireball. We recommend to new people to take a small shot. You can work your way up as you become more familiar with doing fireballs. The only limit to the size of the shot is the size of your mouth, but take caution.

Once the shot is in the dragon's mouth, proceed immediately with the fireball. Gain alcohol is extremal potent and hurts just to hold it in your mouth (it will also be getting absorbed into your blood). It works best to have someone manage the fuel bottle who can give and take the fuel as soon as a shot has been taken by the dragon. They might also hold the chaser drink as well. MAKE SURE TO WIPE YOUR CHIN AND MOUTH AFTER THE SHOT. You don't want your face covered in flammable liquid!

Keep the flame about 18 inches (45 cm) from your mouth and position it above your mouth. You want to blow the fireball upward. DON'T BLOW A FIREBALL DOWNWARD! Heat rises and blowing down can cause the heat to come back at your face and you can get burned. In addition, don't blow a fireball into the wind or into a fan (yes, someone has done that before and they did get burned).

Take a large breath and begin spitting. The faster you allow the fluid to exit your mouth, the larger (and shorter duration) the fireball. If you're just getting started, try and expel the shot as quickly as possible. As the fireball nears completion, pull back away from the flame. Get as much liquid out of your mouth as you can and keep high pressure on the stream of liquid you expel. This is the best way to prevent your face from starting on fire.

Properly executed fireball

Properly executed fireball

Fire-team

The fire-team should be armed with wet towels and/or fire extinguishers. They should watch the dragon. In the event of a failed shot, make sure the dragon is ok before worrying about any other fires. Most fires are ground fires from unburned liquid. This is the result of a shot being ejected too fast (although some of the best fireballs are created this way). Fires spots often occur when droplets hit the ground. Little spots, such as the size of a quarter can easily be stomped out. For larger fires, simply drape the wet towel over it. If you're on concrete, dirt or other non-flammable ground, you don't have to worry about ground fires. Once the flammable liquid burns off, the fires will burn out.

Post shot

After completing a successful fireball, you will likely want something to wash out your mouth. Water and soda work, but speaking from personal experience, beer seems to do a better job. Take a generous mouth full of chasing liquid and swish it around and spit it out. It is normal for your mouth to go numb after grain alcohol. The amount of time varies on the time the alcohol spent in your mouth. The more fireballs you do, the longer your mouth will be numb. I've felt numbness more then four hours afterwards from two big fireball shots. Drinking liquids will help relieve the numbness. On the plus side, a grain alcohol fireball will disinfect the hell out of your mouth.

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