Find all your DIY electronics in the MakerShed. 3D Printing, Kits, Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Books & more!


Here’s a cool video on how to make fireballs, catchy music too.

Phillip Torrone

Editor at large – Make magazine. Creative director – Adafruit Industries, contributing editor – Popular Science. Previously: Founded – Hack-a-Day, how-to editor – Engadget, Director of product development – Fallon Worldwide, Technology Director – Braincraft.


Related

Comments

  1. Pyromania says:

    My laptop is overheating now! XD

  2. Mike Benner says:

    Great Balls of Fire that is cool.

  3. Mike Benner says:

    Great Balls of Fire that is cool.

  4. Andy Berdan says:

    I’m considering making some larger versions to use with Contact Juggling (http://youtube.com/results?search_query=contact+juggling) — but they’d have to be around the size of a tennis ball.

    Would a larger version still exhibit the same properties?

  5. fosho4 says:

    Thats very cool.
    I don’t understand why it isn’t hot at the bottom though…

  6. wikityler says:

    Larger balls would have a larger surface area, thus a bigger/taller flame. Other than that, they would be the same.

  7. steve says:

    it doesnt burn?

  8. fosho4 says:

    Do you have to use cotton thread or can you use a thread that has a mix of polyester and cotton in it?

  9. Falco says:

    pure cotton ONLY
    if you use polyester, it will melt and then you have a big problem.

    the bottom doesnt get as hot because the flame is always hotter near the top, as heat rises and burns more at the top because there is more heated oxygen there.

    these get hot if hou hold them too long, but if you keep them moving, you wont even get burned.

    also, the video should have had more juggling.

  10. computerwiz_222 says:

    i believe that cotton is needed because polyester is synthetic and it would burn similar to plastic and produce an awful odor.

  11. Thorbjørn Kühl says:

    That’s all well and good, but this guy must have asbestos hands, a similar partytrick is getting some alcohol (preferably over 40%), lighting it and dipping your finger in it, it’ll get hot real fast so suck your finger to taste the booze and turn off the fire, and careful with the hot shot glass. it helps to dip your finger in some icewater first to cool it down, have fun and don’t wet your bed :)

  12. Timmy says:

    I have some kevlar fire juggling balls, which you soak. They burn if you hold on to them for too long, so I would imagine that Contact would be a no no.

  13. Shasta says:

    So I made these, and burned the crap out my hands. Granted, I’m a girl and maybe my hands aren’t as calloused as his might be, but am I doing something wrong? I can’t even hold it still for long enough to set down the lighter. Any hints?

  14. MB says:

    so I see I’m not the only one who instantly thought contact juggling. Fire sort of scares me though…

  15. Mr. Mustard says:

    For larger balls, not only will the flame be larger, but probably hotter, as more fuel is being burned.

    For contact juggling, the biggest problems will likely be you burning the hair off your arms and the backs of your hands, and maybe even your clothing catching fire. Make sure you wear a non-flammable fabric, and take precautions (a fire blanket and someone to assist in case of an accident) if you intend on trying it.

    Burns are painful, you really don’t want to be taking any risks with fire.

  16. Cooney says:

    Cool video, I gave this a shot and it didn’t work quite the way it was supposed to, that is, no blue flame on the sides, it got extremely hot, and the ball turned black within a minute. I used the same brand of lighter fluid and black 100% cotton string. The fabric was 100% cotton, but I’m sure thats where the problem lay. From what I can tell the fabric is supposed to act like a wick so that the fuel burns instead of the material. The material I used was from a regular t-shirt and was likely to smooth and refined to have the wick effect. Next I’m going to try the same material used in the video (fluffy baby fabric).

  17. Rob0 says:

    I did something similar years ago in high school and college, but using tennis balls and isopropyl alcohol. I’m not sure how the flame’s temp. compares, but I have the sense that the alcohol flame was lower. I did a lot of 3 ball juggling with this. You saturate the ball then bounce it a few time to get rid of the excess. Be careful not to get the alcohol in your eyes while doing that.

    If you do it for a while you will burn the hair on the back of your hands and knuckles a little – it smells a bit, but isn’t too bad – and hey a small price to pay for CHEAP fire juggling balls. It’s quite impressive looking (as long as you know how to juggle well…)

    When juggling the tennis balls & alcohol combo, you hands will eventually get hot, if you have a partner you can than have them steal the balls from your pattern (an easy trick to learn that looks good and keeps the fire juggling going longer). If you learn to swap back and forth via stealing then you can keep this going for several minutes until the alcohol burns off.

    You can also take a cotton ball and tie it to the end of a stick (or straight section of a coat hanger) and use it to try fire eating. Which is much easier than you might think – if you burn yourself it’s similar to a burn from hot coffee, not that bad.

    I once tried dipping my hands in alcohol and lighting them, that started to hurt very quickly – no burns, but it’s a tad painful. (Just a warning for anyone who gets too cocky thinking – heck I can juggle with this stuff and put it in my mouth – it doesn’t get that hot, why don’t I set my body on fire that’ll look REALLY neat…)

  18. Iulius says:

    i did this with the same materials he used, its extremely fun but hurts after a while. A trick to it is to put more lighter fluid in once the ball starts to brown, because that means the ball is burning instead of the lighter fluid.

    I tried to figure out how this works, I think you dont get burned because it is the fumes of the lighter fluid burning not the actual fluid (i learned that on survivorman). So the flame is actually an inch higher than your hand

    i highly suggest doing this, just make sure you use NAPTHAL based lighter fluid

  19. Iulius says:

    sorry i meant to say NAPHTHA based lighter fluid, thats extremely important

  20. Cory says:

    I tried this using some of the hints above, and yes it is fun! I used the fabric from a 100% cotton polo shirt I had were the fabric was what looked like a larger weave (If that’s what it’s called?) and veeery different then the under-shirt I was going to use originally. Didn’t have the right string in my house, though, so I used a cotton covered polyester string instead. It worked but did get too hot after holding it for about 4-5 seconds.

  21. Davis says:

    Can you use cotton balls instead of the fabric?

  22. BOB says:

    i wouldn’t suggest using it but u could try cotton balls i can’t gaurentee that useing cotton balls would work at all but if you want to take the chances of being burnt a little go ahead and try it…(i wuldn’t)

  23. fireman says:

    I have used these for years in my fire eating act!
    Tennis balls work well for juggling, but don’t try them your first time. Practice Practice Practice!

  24. Dave Wilson says:

    This is very cool and I’ve made this morning, worked great but had to douse it quick cause I’m at work! hehehe

    I’m wondering, is there some sort of gel or something I can put on my hands so I can hold the balls longer without rolling them around to keep my hands cool?

    Thanks.

  25. 786 says:

    can u give some names of lighting fluids

  26. Yeah says:

    Chillin. ALOT of people say it doesnt work and im not sure if I beleive the people that say it does work.

  27. Megan Comstock says:

    This totally works, i just did it. I used an old t-shirt and zippo lighter fluid and basically as long as you move the ball around it doesn’t hurt at all. I admit i was skeptical at first, and so put my hands in ice water just to increase the chances that i wouldn’t burn. But to my surprise it really didn’t even hurt. Just don’t be stupid and you’ll be fine. =)

  28. busyhands says:

    if you wet your hands you can hold them longer. you can play table football or socker with them

  29. lolo;lololo says:

    it dosen’t really work for me i used 100% cotton fabric andstring but it still burns my hands i also used the same fluid as him

  30. ben says:

    im going to try them tomorrow morning is charcoal lighter fluid … if ur dumb then(the stuff u light a grill) ok to use with it

  31. josh says:

    I just did this, i could only hold it for 3-5 seconds depending on how much i rolled it around. i used 100% cotton t-shirt fabric, cotton string, and the exact same lighter fluid brand he used.

    idk, maybe his hands are alot more heat resistant than the average persons? well anyway it was still sorta fun, i didnt get burned to bad.

  32. josh says:

    TIPS AND HOW I DID IT:

    1) the smaller ball and less fuel you use the better (must be enough fuel so the fabric doesnt burn)

    2) run your hands under cold water for 30 seconds prior to stunt.

    3) dont move around to much, the more you move it the more oxygen it gets = hotter fire.

    4) to make it go out, instead of closing it in your hands, i clap it like you would a bee. it goes out before burning your hands.

    this guy must have very heat resistent hands, so if you are like me and hot things burn you :) use my tips

  33. asas says:

    sdzfsdfsdfsdfsd

  34. adk says:

    any1 try covering ur hands in vaseline or something like that first?

  35. Peter says:

    Vaseline is petroleum jelly. Meaning: IT BURNS, and when it burns, it burns hot so if you accidentally light it on fire you’ll burn your hands to a crisp. DO NOT TRY IT!

  36. Cody says:

    Use aloe vera (pure, or near pure) on your hands before handling the ball. They keep it from burning very nicely. DON’T use Vaseline. It will burn the hell out of your hands and they will stay lit for a while.

  37. kne says:

    does lighters liquid work?

  38. james says:

    i used a zippo fluid and cut up an old cotton shirt.
    instead of using a string i cut up the shirt and i threaded the ball. wen i lighted the ball, it was really hot and black smoke kept smoking up.
    what am i doing wrong?

  39. justin says:

    hey. im trying to do this for a science project presentation. Words of adivce, help, or anything that is useful or will make the experiment better. THANK YOU SO MUCH!

  40. Mike Renolds says:

    SO I need to hide the cotton balls, twine, & light fluid from my teenage son now. This is great. If I had know about this when I was young I would have burned something down trying to figure out how big the “t-shirt ball” would get before becoming unmanageable.

    Thanks, I’m going to try this on my next day off, it looks fun, maybe I can try it out on the tennis courts with a tennis ball sized prototype of this concept. Will definitely video it if I do it.

    Mike
    http://www.tennisplaza.com

  41. Victor says:

    I found the secret you must dump out some lighter fluid from the bottle and fill the difference with water, something around two parts L-fluid one part water. I tried and it works but I don’t know the exact ratio mine didn’t look as bright but it was close. I know that it takes dumping some L-fluid out adding some water and mixing it. Make sure the balls are tight and when the cloth starts to burn it will start turning black, the amber’s will burn you. If it burns drop it. Experiment on your drive way have a water bucket or snow around and don’t use too much fluid.

  42. Victor says:

    I found the secret you must dump out some lighter fluid from the bottle and fill the difference with water, something around two parts L-fluid one part water. I tried and it works but I don’t know the exact ratio mine didn’t look as bright but it was close. I know that it takes dumping some L-fluid out adding some water and mixing it. Make sure the balls are tight and when the cloth starts to burn it will start turning black, the amber’s will burn you. If it burns drop it. Experiment on your drive way have a water bucket or snow around and don’t use too much fluid. I am still experimenting but I know it has to do with the ratio between water and lighter fluid if anyone else is brave enough they can help me figure it out

  43. Marco says:

    y dose your hand not catch on fire

  44. zo says:

    can i use butane gas for lightiening