The two main types are LYCOPODIUM POWDER and CUSTARD POWDER, and they are used for
fire-breathing. Some magicians also use lycopodium for small flashes and fire effects.
Lycopodium, which produces the brightest flame, is the spore of club moss, and resembles
a fine yellow powder. Custard powder is the stuff you find in the market. Either
can be blown into a cloud and lighted into a ball of flame. Powdered milk works too.
The usual procedure with lycopodium is to hold a small amount in a tube which you
blow through and light. (MSDS on Lycopodium is not very informative: it kills frogs
at 6 gm/kg -- the equivalent dose for a 150-pound human is about nine pounds.) With
custard, I’ve been told that you take a deep breath, pour a quantity into your mouth,
and spray into a torch. Blowing through a tube would probably work too. As with all
fire-breathing, the best way to learn how is directly from an expert.
The fire hazards of powder are obviously much less severe than those of liquid fuel.
I haven’t heard of serious physical or medical injuries, though one user claims that
lycopodium is poisonous. I have heard reports of asthma attacks by people with pre-existing
conditions. I do know that prolonged breathing of coal dust gets you black lung disease
and prolonged breathing of bakery flour gets you white lung disease, both of which
are debilitating or fatal (as well as explosive). And I have too much imagination
(and I’ve read too much science fiction) to be comfortable with putting any amount
of a vegetable spore in my lungs, so I’ve never tried it. And I can’t stand the taste
of custard. Lycopodium can be purchased through magic supply stores and in some pharmacies.
Magicians commonly use flash paper, flash cotton, or flash string to produce bright
flashes of fire. These are all forms of nitrocellulose and are extremely dangerous.
When not in use, all flash products should be stored in water in a sealed plastic
bag, and locked in a fireproof box. Dry out only what you are going to use within
24 hours. Making your own flash stuff is exactly as safe as making your own dynamite,
and there are a surprising number of fingerless ex-magicians who can tell you about
it. Of course you can’t juggle flash paper, but you can fire it out of a “hand cannon”
or from an electronically controlled pyro cannon or flash pot. Rock musicians do
this all the time. They also have licensed pyro technicians do it for them because
they are just entertainers, and not really suicidal maniacs.
Are you a Juggling artist or performer who uses Glowsticks, Glowstick Liquid Rave
Dance, Twisters, Nunchaku, Poi, Spinning, Staff, Twirling, or Fire, and uses Dance
Music with their Art and would like a link or a disabled artist who has an art or
entertainment site that has Tips, Videos, Photos and would like a link. Click on
Add your Link.