Friday, December 09, 2005

Flaming Serendipity

Fire Spinning (something I often indulge in) requires, fundamentally, fuel. There are other prerequisites too but fuel is an interesting variable because it controls the safety and duration of a performance. Coleman's fuel (camping fuel) is the cheapest I've found, at around $5/gallon here. The flame is almost white, and burns very hot. The only problem is that the burn time is not very long and it does not have a very high flash point.

Second on the list is Kerosene. I've not tried it but it is supposed to produce very long burn times, but a dim, smokey flame. Around $7-8/gallon (cheaper for larger sizes). Often mixed with Coleman's 50/50.

Ethanol is useful for colored flames, but produces toxic fumes and destroys wicks, supposedly. Even isopropyl alcohol (70% by volume) will light, but that produces a bluish flame, and does not burn very long.

Finally, there's lamp oil, or liquid paraffin. I've tried a 50/50 mix with Coleman's, which produced slightly longer burn times than pure Coleman's, though nothing about which to write home. Normal lamp oil is also a bit smokey and smells when burnt. Regular is about $8/gallon. Ultra-pure lamp oil has none of the odor or smoke of normal lamp oil but is also much more expensive: about $15/gallon at K-Mart and $30/gallon at Pottery Barn.

What? Pottery Barn?

Normally, I wouldn't buy ultra-pure lamp oil at Pottery Barn, what with it being twice as expensive as K-Mart. But take note, pyros, because during their holiday sale (at least when I was there today browsing), they have 22oz. bottles of ultra-pure lamp oil for $.99! That brings down the per gallon price to around $5. Very nice. I cleaned out the shelves and bought 8 >)

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