This is a very cool little magic trick that can be easily and cheaply put together in a few minutes (took me about 20 minutes to do the sewing and
|such), and it’s one of those things that looks “impossible” such that it should harm you but it doesn’t, kind of like walking on red-hot coals (which works because ash is an extraordinarily good insulator and the millimeters-thin coating on the surface of the coals doesn’t|
allow the heat from the embers to transfer to your feet). What’s happening here is that the base of the flame is the coolest part, as is normally the case–I really tried to find an explanation for why this is the case online, but amazingly came up empty, the best I can do is to speculate that the reason that the base of a flame is the coolest part and it gets hotter as you go up is because as thing heat up they get less and less dense and therefore rise in an atmosphere (hot air rises, i.e. hot air balloon, etc.) which causes the hottest gases to rise to the top of the flame; if anyone knows better please feel free to comment, your insight will be more than welcome.
A Few Tips:
- When you’re sewing the ball together, I noticed that you can’t push the needle through that scrunched up ball of cotton with just your fingers, here’s what to do: put the needle in as far as you can with your fingers, then while holding the ball between your fingers, turn it upside down and press the back of the needle against a desk or table top pushing it through the ball of cotton. Now, you’ll find that you can’t pull it the rest of the way through with your fingers–take some pliers (I used the needle-nosed ones on my leatherman) and pull it through.
- You don’t need much lighter fluid, maybe 5 seconds worth (if you’re using the typical yellow plastic-bottled Ronsonol stuff with the itty-bitty spout on it), you definitely don’t want to douse it such it ends up leaking any fluid onto your hand once it’s lit because then that fluid will immediately ignite and you’ll end up screaming, waving your flaming hand around in the air and looking very silly, indeed.
- I am honestly very suspicious of the person that did this video, I really think they had some added help of some sort, probably petroleum jelly, as I found it very difficult to hold onto one of these things and couldn’t come close to replicating what they did in the video–I’ve heard that
petroleum jelly is often used to keep people from being burned when doing stunts on TV where they’re lit on fire, and several people who have tried this and commented on the video that
was posted on Metacafe (same video, not sure if it was posted there or Youtube first, doesn’t really matter) said that petroleum jelly does indeed make a big difference. Please, feel free to try and it and comment on your results. Here’s the video:
Additional Resources and Further Reading
A writer at About.com tries this through the instructions in the same video and finds that she’s unable to hold onto them either, hmmmm I’m really beginning to doubt the validity of this: How to make fireballs at about.com