Copyright © Hana Priest
The below information is specific to the fire fuel available in Western Australia.
If you want the quick answer...your best option is Recosol G, available through either Hana Priest, at Dangerous Delights (contact) or Omega Swift, at Fyregear (contact). This fuel is ideal for use on all fire props, as well as the best option for fire breathing. The only thing it's not good for, is vapour tricks (for this you need Shellite, available at most hardware stores).
What are your fire fuel options in Perth, Western Australia?
KEROSENE is the most readily available fire fuel, as it can be purchased from all hardware stores. It's also the cheapest. However, it's the most smokey and smelly of the fuels, and leaves a lot of sooty residue on your fire props. It's unpleasant for an audience when performing, due to the volume of smoke and the strong smell. Some people get headaches when exposed to Kerosene.
Fire props using Kerosene are easy to light, burn with a good orange flame and have a good burn time (the length of time it talkes for all the fuel to burn out). Kerosene is suitable for fire eating, body tracing and fire breathing, however, Recosol G is a much better option.
If you are just looking for a cheap fuel to use for your backyard spinning and you don't mind the smoke and the smell, then Kerosene is your best option (Recosol G costs double).
CITERONELLA is like Kerosene (see above) but with addatives to keep the mozzies away and alter the smell.
LAMP OIL is very oily and thick in comparison to all the other fire fuels. It produces less smoke than Kerosene and doesn't produce as much odour, making it more pleasant to use.
Lamp Oil has a good burn time but is slow to ignite (compared to the other fuels). The flame slowly creeps up your fire prop after ignition, rather than the whole prop catching fire at once (as with the other fuels). It also burns with more of a red flame, that's noticably different to the orange flame of other fuels.
Lamp Oil is suitable to use on all fire props but the slow ignition time is a nuscience if performing or spinning in windy conditions, when props are difficult to light. Shellite can be used to make it faster to light, buy dipping your props briefly in Shellite, after dipping in Lamp Oil.
SHELLITE Aside from Lighter Fluid, Shellite is the most volatile of fuels suitable for use with fire props. It lights instantly, burns quickly and feels slightly hotter than the other fuels. This fuel needs to be handled with care, as even the vapours from the fuel are flammable. It's far easier to set your clothes and hair on fire if spinning with Shellite, than it is with other fuels. It's also easy to accidentally set your fuel container on fire. So if you are spinning with Shellite, always place a lid on your container after dipping and wait at least 30sec after extinguishing, before re-dipping your props.
Shellite is, however, the best fuel to use if you're doing vapour tricks and transfers. If you want your skin to stay on fire after a body trace, do a hand transfer of flame from one prop to another, or make candles while fire eating, you need Shellite.
Shellite can also be used to make it faster to light a prop soaked in Lamp Oil, buy dipping the prop in Shellite, after dipping in Lamp Oil.
If you are from overseas...Shellite is the equivalent to "White Gas" or "Coleman's" in the USA.
COLEMAN'S CAMP FUEL is much the same as Shellite (above) in terms of it's use and properties. It can be purchased from camping stores and is cheaper than Shellite.
ALCOHOL Beverages with an alcohol content of 60% (120 proof) or higher are volatile enough to be used on fire props, but they produce a poor flame. Fire eaters and fire breathers may consider using a high proof alcohol, instead of the other fuels, due to the lower toxicity. However, the amount of alcohol you ingest from just a few fire breaths, can be significant and make you quite drunk. This is then a dangerous condition which to be in, while working with fire.
LIGHER FLUID can be used on fire props but it's very volatile. It lights instantly, burns quickly and the flame is very hot. It's also quite expensive to purchase in quantities sufficent for use on larger props.
The only thing Ligher Fluid really gets used for by fire spinners, is squirting some over the top of wicks dipped in another fuel, in order to get those props to light faster. For example when using Lamp Oil or if you have charcoal poi/staff.
RECOSOL G is the best fire fuel we have available in Western Australia. Over the past 10 years, several fire performers have approached distributors of fammable liquids in WA, to test their various fuels, to find the one that works best. By best we mean: lights easily; has a nice, big, bright, flame; a good, long, burn time; isn't too smokey or smelly; doesn't create much residue on fire props; is suitable for use on all fire props, including fire eating, body tracing and fire breathing; and isn't volatile, making it realively safe to work with. Recosol G came out on top.
Recosol G, however, is not readily available. You won't find it in any stores. It needs to be purchased from an indistrial chemical supply company in large quantities (over 100L at a time). Hana at Dangerous Delights and Omega at Fyregear, purchase it in these large quantities and then on sell it by the litre. It's costs double that of Kerosene, but is actually cheaper than all the other fire fuels.
PETROL or DIESEL are NOT at all recommended as a fire spinning fuel. These fuels are highly volitile and highly toxic. Don't use them. Ever.
All flammable liquids suitable for fire spinning are toxic. You are burning liquid chemicals. All fuels should be treated as toxic to your body, whether making direct contact on your skin, mouth or eyes, or through enhaling the vapours or smoke. Even though some fuels are safer to use than others, no fuel should ever be considered "safe".
Always obtain a Material and Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for which ever fuel you are using, so that you understand it's properties and can take appropriate precautions when dealing with that fuel. This includes what to do if the fuel gets in your eyes or is accidentally ingested.
Always keep any fuel in a clearly marked fuel container. Water bottles or other drink bottles are not suitable, as it's easy for the fuel to get mistaken for water and drunk by accident.
SDS - Safety Data Sheet
Copyright © Hana Priest and Jed Fowler
What is an SDS?
Who should read an SDS?
Why should I read the SDS?
Where do I get an SDS?
Copyright © by Pele
Can my clothing burn?
Can flame resistant clothing save me?
Why use flame resistant clothing?
What does the fire service use?
What makes clothing burn faster?
What is safe?
Wear tighter clothing which is less likely to catch against your fire poi or staff as it passes your body and will have less oxygen between them and your body.
When I say "better protection" I mean a few seconds like 3 to 4 sec at best. Your clothes could catch on fire behind you and you could be unaware until it is too late. You must have a spotter or safety person watching over you at all times, holding a wet towel or fire blanket. Safer clothing will give them extra time to put you out.
When smothering the flame, be sure to cover the performer so as to push the flame away from and not into their face or air ways.
How can I protect myself further?
What about my hair?
Other General Safety Information
Copyright © Hana Priest
Safety check of equipment
Have a fire blanket, wet towel, appropriate fire extinguisher and first aid kit, all readily available. This will also include checking that the first aid box is fully stocked and fire extinguisher is pressurised and ready for use.
If you are not 100% sure it is safe, then don't light up!
Your personal safety
Safety of others
Removing excess fuel
Lighting the equipment
First Aid For Burns
Copyright © Doc Lightening
Of all the injuries that fire performers accumulate, burns are probably the most common. This article aims to teach performers how to identify the three main classes of heat burns and the appropriate first aid for each class.
This article is not intended to cover general fire safety nor does it cover chemical, electrical, or cold burns. Please do remember your basic fire safety rules, and also remember that if you catch on fire, STOP, DROP, and ROLL.
Classes of burns
First Degree Burns
Second Degree Burns
Third Degree Burns
How do I care for a burn?
For First Degree Burns
After the skin has been cooled, do not apply lotions or salves. Leave the skin uncovered and dry. Most first degree burns resolve after 1-2 days. For pain while the burn is healing, put cold, wet cloths on the burned area and you can take ibuprofen if necessary.
For Second Degree Burns
The burn will usually resolve with minimal to no scarring within 7-14 days, although it may take as long as three weeks. Once the blisters burst on their own, try to trim off the dead skin with fine scissors. This is painless and helps to prevent infection. For pain while the burn is healing, put cold, wet cloths on the burned area and take ibuprofen if necessary.
If the skin is broken do not immerse in water as this can lead to infection. Cover the burn in a clean, dry dressing (gauze works nicely) and go to the nearest emergency room.
For Third Degree Burns
When to seek immediate medical attention for a burn?
When to seek medical attention during normal working hours?
Remember: When in doubt, seek medical attention for a burn. Burns are
complicated medical injuries and may require very advanced care for severe
Fire & Circus
© 2018 Perth Fire Group