Notes on breathing colored fire.

3/16/4 Tuesday

Composing a mail to a poi-style fire-performer. Not sure how much of this stuff applies! But it occurs to me: I should try CuCl with lamp oil...

3/15/4 Monday

The DorkBot talk was almost totally successful. Except for the fact I was a little reluctant to give up the stage! Great oohs and aahs from the audience, always wonderful to hear. Great venue, great audience, great help from friends who prepared the space by draping a tarp over an offensive streetlight. Thanks Nick, Sara, Jesse, Furry!

Some post mortem scribbles...

  • Copper chloride reacts! I had a somewhat frightening suprise when I mixed up some dry powder for a finale... in the past I've done CuCl + fine magnesium powder + other stuff, which worked well. This time, the CuCl had obviously become hydrated; it was a bright green powder instead of the usual military greenish brown. When I shook up the powder to mix itl, it quickly became very hot and steamed; I think the Mg was pulling O off of the hydrated CuCl... and probably liberating H2 in the process. Scary! Lesson: Don't use hydrated CuCl, or maybe Lesson: Don't use Mg with anything that'll make it react!
  • I need to add a towel to my kit; one dedicated to fire.
  • The 300-mesh iron was a great success!
  • * Can I get steel this fine?
  • * 100-mesh iron to add to the mix?
  • It'd be good to dial in some size mixes - try several until I come up with good-looking mixtures.
  • I need toothbrush + paste + floss in-kit!
  • Pack a better table with me?
  • More water.
  • * Dromedary-bag style suck?
  • My shot-bottles need labels.
  • Try color mixes?
  • Plan color + powder mixes.
  • Plan the whole performance! This will help with wrapping things up cleanly afterwards... making on-the-spot performance decisions while growing drunker is a mistake!
  • Call out for questions explicitly; repeat them before answering.
  • Praise/name/involve assistants.
  • Bring mic. stand! Even if I can do w/o it, it'll help with mouthwashing sooner.
  • I need a better copper container!
  • Also better container for dispensing copper/powder mixes - plastic and plastic-lidded transparent airline liquor bottle would be good... I currently use one of my shotbottles for this, which is NO GOOD as I end up drinking (copper) from it later on.
  • I need a bottlebrush for cleaning... or some other kind of shotbottle that's easier to clean, or easier to come by.
  • I need to get fireworks-grade boric acid; this is more likely not to be sodium-contaminated.
  • Some science to try: comparison blows with warm + cold boric-acid solutions.
  • ?? potassium nitrate?

3/9/4 Tuesday

DorkBot talk tomorrow! I got this page updated, and pointed to by ''

I haven't been able to corraborate the lithium rumor... and skylighter just started carrying it! I think I'm not going to worry. Fresh health references on the main page.


I heard from someone that might know that lithium combustion products may be carcinogenic. I'm holding off on any further experimentsx until I can find out more...


I just got some new chemicals today, from Bryant Labratories in Berkeley. Really nice, talkative guy behind the counter!


  • Lithium chloride
  • Lithium iodide
  • Oxalic acid
  • Acetic acid

I'm going to mess with the acids later, but I'll be trying the lithiums tonight...

First, are they toxic? I think I'm OK wrt lithium, as it's prescribed to bipolar folks in gram doses, and I'll be absorbing at most milligrams. Choride is in salt... how about iodide?


In the event of the detonation of a nuclear weapon or the release of radioactive material from a nuclear reactor, the most likely treatment of internal contamination would be the use of potassium iodide or iodate to prevent radioiodine from accumulating in the thyroid. The recommended daily dose of potassium iodide is 130 mg for adults, 65 mg for children 3 to 18 years old, 32 mg for children 1 month to up to 3 years old, and 16 mg for infants less than 1 month old. Potassium iodide must be taken shortly before exposure or within several hours after exposure to be effective. Both the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the FDA have approved the use of potassium iodide in emergencies. Potassium iodide is widely available through the mail and the Internet. Too high a dose will result in iodism, but the risk of serious side effects with the recommended dose is extremely small.

I think I'll be OK.

First tests!

Lithium iodide is bitter as hell. Lithium chloride just tastes salty. Lithium chloride is moderately exothermic when hydrating - it made the alcohol hot when I mixed it. Both show color, but the chloride shows it much better. Pretty good color on breathing fire, and good color on the torch itself, but the color is FANTASTIC on steel wool. Deep deep fuschia.

I might need to retire the potassium!