There are a number of fuels used by fire performers around the world. Inconveniently the same fuels go by different names in different countries and different fuels can go by the same name. Because of this Firetoys LTD cannot categorically recommend any fuel, and the user must take responsibility for their fuel choice and consequences caused.
NEVER USE PETROL, GASOLINE or DIESEL. These fuels have low flash points, burn at very high temperatures and are explosive, the opposite of the properties required for fire performance. The vapour from an empty one-gallon container of petroleum-based fuel can explode with the force of dynamite! On still days these vapours can disperse slowly so are still explosive sometime after the liquid fuel has been removed from the area.
Never burn a fuel you are unsure about. Ask your supplier for the manufacturer’s safety data sheet (MSDS) for the fuel in question.
The only fuel we recommend is UK grade standard paraffin (also known as kerosene, Parasene and other brand names in the UK). This fuel is often referred to as lamp oil or kerosene in other parts of the world – if in doubt consult the MSDS. Paraffin has a number of qualities that are good for fire spinners:
- It burns at a relatively low temperature.
- It has a high flash point – the temperature at which it will ignite from a naked flame – making it relatively hard to ignite by accident.
- Paraffin only burns when oxygenated or aerated which means it only lights when absorbed in a wick (at normal temperatures). Puddled paraffin on the ground will not ignite (at normal ambient temperatures) making it much safer than other fuels.
- Paraffin is not particularly volatile which means it will not explode readily unlike many other fuels.
Paraffin has some downsides too:
- It’s toxic and can contain toxic additives.
- It’s smelly, smoky and leaves a residue on props.
- It’s environmentally damaging and should not be spilt and excess fuel on props should be contained.
If you do get fuel on your skin it should be rinsed off immediately. Should paraffin come into contact with your eyes they should be rinsed while held open for 15 minutes and you should seek out medical advice. If swallowed do NOT induce vomiting but drink plenty of water and seek medical advice.
In the UK paraffin is often sold in thin plastic containers. Ideally, it should be transferred to a metal or thick plastic jerry can. This should be safely stored away from children and heat sources and be labelled appropriately.
Should you require a fuel other than paraffin we advise contacting professionals both in the fuel industry and performers.