Fire Balloon at CCC


I’m not entirely convinced that this is a good idea, but it’s beautiful in this video by gurkenwurst! – Link

20 thoughts on “Fire Balloon at CCC

  1. mike.b. says:

    I saw this done on an episode of Mr. Wizard actually!

    He used a dry cleaner’s bag to hold the air and a little assembly of drinking straws to keep the bottom open and a little piece of tinfoil suspended underneath. And as a fuel, he used a single peanut. When he lit the peanut it sustained a small flame.

  2. pelrun says:

    I made these a few times when I was young, both at school and at home. We used a big garbage bag, wire, and a small cotton ball soaked in a bit of methylated spirits for the heat source. (only a little metho, or you melt holes in the top of the bag and all your hot air escapes…)

    Though every one of those times we had the bag tethered so it couldn’t fly off and set something on fire…

  3. Vermin says:

    Yep dry cleaner bags or really cheap (thin and light) garbage bags).

    Straws or wooden kebab skewers to for the tray support and to hold the bag open.

    Chips off a fire-lighter block or cotton wool buds soaked in methylated sprits also work well as fuel (not too much = too heavy).

    Works best on a really cold and still night.

  4. JPMartineau says:

    Now, that’s a great way to start a forest fire.

    Definitely not a good idea unless you’re in the desert.

  5. ildenizen says:

    Yup. Ditto on the done that as a kid! My dad enthusiastically supported all pyrotechnics that happened as a result of our ballon tipping and lighting!
    We made these with tissue or rice paper, carefully cut out and glued together, with a small wire neck and cotton ball.
    A safer idea is to hold the balloon over a BBQ. It does not go as far, and does not have the same night time appeal however.

  6. LukeBoss says:

    fire balloons like this are traditional here in brazil.
    its a VERY bad idea, they start huge forest fires.
    i wouldnt recommend that.

  7. says:

    The thing that gets me is the guy who had it didn’t know anything about it. Someone asked him if he made it and he said “No, I bought it.” Another guy asked what he was using for fuel, twice, and he said he didn’t know because he had just bought it.

    This is what makes this dangerous. Someone who doesn’t know anything about it decides it would be a good idea to send fire flying away without any notion of how long it will burn or where it will end up. The first post talked about using a peanut for fuel. This is how it should be done.

  8. Jetlag says:

    For ideas on how to MAKE your own, Skylighter has an ad for theirs here:

    I like the idea of the “balloon” being paper and also fire retardant.

  9. FunnyPolynomial says:

    Seeing the night sky filled with these things at the Loi Krathong festival in Thailand was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever experienced.

  10. shoomaker says:

    I have made maybe a hundred of these balloons with dry cleaner bags and thin wire. I use a tinfoil cup to control the burn rate and hold a cotton ball soaked in white gas. I can attest to the fact that there is some danger associated with this hobby. In the early days I burned up a bush and had to go ask a homeowner if i could borrow a ladder to put out the fire that was burning on his roof. With a little practice and figuring out the ideal conditions, I was able to get the ballons to rapidly accend at least 1000 feet, taking them qiuckly away from flamable obstacles. These high flying balloons would burn out long before they came down.

    White gas also seems to smother easily, so several times when a ballon hit a tree, the envlope smothered the flame. There is always the chance of error, so I prefer to fly now only on rainy Pacific North West days.

    Many times I have watched people walk or drive by and stop to stare up into the sky. The affect of the slow-moving or stationary, flickering, yellow flame glowing on the dry cleaner bag is unique. People ask what it is. Nobody has ever seen anything like like it.

    This project is good for many happy hours of entertainment.

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