Fire-Breathing: How to Breathe Fire Safely

How Fire-Breathing Works

Fire breathing women
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Firebreathing involves breathing a fine mist of fuel over an open flame to form a fireball. It's playing with fire in a big way, so there are obvious risks involved. It's adult-supervision-only time. Never attempt fire-breathing with a flammable fuel because this carries a risk of the fire traveling back to you and setting you on fire.

Additionally, most flammable fuels are toxic. Here's how to breathe fire with a nontoxic, nonflammable fuel.

Do this project outdoors, not because of the risk of a fire but because you're going to make a big mess with the fuel, which is cornstarch. A video tutorial of this project is available if you would like to see what to expect.

Firebreathing Materials

  • A large container of cornstarch
  • A large spoon
  • A large glass of water
  • A large flame

How to Breathe Fire

  1. Fill your mouth with a big scoop of cornstarch. Do not breathe in any of the cornstarch. The biggest risk from this project is inhaling cornstarch, which could damage your lungs (like any fine powder). Laughing is your biggest threat here. The cornstarch doesn't have a bad taste, but the texture is very unpleasant.
  2. Blow the cornstarch out over a large flame. There is a trick to this: Try to whistle out the cornstarch. It's easy to blow out a candle or lighter, plus it puts your hand in harm's way. Use a big burning piece of cardboard. You could blow the starch over a campfire, but be careful not to blow it toward anyone or anything that might catch fire.
  1. Repeat as desired and then swish the water around in your mouth. Spit it out and repeat to clean your mouth. The big advantage of using cornstarch over flour (which would also work) is that the cornstarch rinses out pretty easily.

How It Works

A mass of cornstarch will not easily burn (try it), but when you disperse the starch into a fine powder you can ignite it as a fuel.

Starch, like sugar or flour, is a carbohydrate and can be burned. In fact, the dust burns instantly. If you've heard of a grain elevator explosion, this is the most common cause. A much smaller quantity of starch is used for this firebreathing trick.

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Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "Fire-Breathing: How to Breathe Fire Safely." ThoughtCo, Feb. 8, 2018, thoughtco.com/how-to-breathe-fire-safely-607487. Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. (2018, February 8). Fire-Breathing: How to Breathe Fire Safely. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/how-to-breathe-fire-safely-607487 Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "Fire-Breathing: How to Breathe Fire Safely." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/how-to-breathe-fire-safely-607487 (accessed May 27, 2018).