Whether you are new to firehooping or a pro, it is a shared responsibility and honor to uphold the highest integrity with the artform in regards to the safety of the public and the environment. Here we have listed some basic guidelines and additional resources. Please consider doing your own research to make informed decisions regarding fuels, safety procedures, insurance and first aid.
Our fuel of choice is a mixture of Coleman white gas (aka camping fuel) and lamp oil (pure paraffin). Both can be found at hardware or outdoor recreation stores. We use a metal paint can to mix the fuels in. Whatever you choose to use, make sure it has a lid.
Coleman white gas is highly combustible and ignites easily! White gas burns bright, hot and clean, making it less smoky than other fuels and most desirable for indoor performance. However, it burns fast, so expect a shorter burn time. Lamp oil takes awhile to light, especially in cold or damp weather but burns longer. By using a mixture of the two, we feel we have the best of both worlds. Quick, dynamic light and longer burn. Look for "99% smokeless & odorless" lamp oil!
Natural fibers – cotton, wool, leather and silk. Synthetic fibers melt to you skin resulting in dangerous burns. They also catch easier.
Wear clothing that fits snuggly to your body. No huge flowy skirts or pants. Be careful when choosing costume pieces – feathers won’t melt, but they will catch quick. A hat or bandana is a great idea, or add cotton or wool yarn to hair for protection.
Kevlar sleeves. Protect your forearms! They are especially liberating when using twin firehoops. You can get them here.
First of all, make sure you have a secure dipping station, away from large groups of people, preferably backing to a wall or some other boundary.
When your station is set up, dip each wick into the fuel mixture squeezing off any excess with a chemical glove. After all your props are dipped, take time in a secure location to spin off excess fuel. Please note that these fuels are toxic and harmful to the environment. Choose your location wisely. I prefer to spin off in gravel or concrete lots.
If you have awhile to wait before you burn, you can preserve the fuel on each wick with a baggie. These fuels will evaporate. White gas evaporates quickly.
Before burning, replace all lids on each fuel container and store your dipping materials far AWAY from your burning location and other people. Flames can travel and transfer back to ignite the fuel source if not covered!
Always make sure you have a fire safety – never burn alone. Your fire safety should have access to a dampened (not soaking) towel or duvetyne and should be paying attention! Work out your method of handling unexpected fires ahead of time. Make sure you have a clear method of communication.
If you have long hair, wrap it up or spritz it with water first. I like to use rosewater that you can get in any natural foods store.
When you are done spinning you can extinguish each wick with the towel or duvetyne, suffocating it by cutting off access to oxygen OR you can spin until they go out. The lamp oil/white gas mixture should last about 4 minutes depending on wick size.
For more information on fuel choices, fire safety and first aid, we recommend this article from Home of Poi.
If spinning fire in public spaces, we highly recommend obtaining performers' insurance. Visit North American Fire Artists Association for insurance companies that cover fire artists and guidelines on obtaining fire permits.
We strongly encourage you to get involved with your local fire spinning community and online forums for additional support, inspiration and camaraderie. Visit our resources page for more info.