Fuel suggestion

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Years ago, I had a friend who was into chemistry and pyrotechnics. He found (this was the good ol' days, when you COULD find this stuff on the net) some anarchy files -the Jolly Roger cookbook, etc- and came up with a substance that was apparently some kind of very basic napalm. I don't know about that, but I *do* know that it provides a hot fire that burns for a long time.

It's also quite easy to make:

Ingredients: Petrol, styrofoam.

Method: Take the styrofoam. Dissolve it in the petrol until it is saturated. Saturation requires a LOT of styrofoam; I remember once we were able to dissolve about 500mL worth of styrofoam in no more petrol than would have filled a bottletop.

You'll have a sticky goo. The firmer the better.

How effective is this stuff? A bottletop worth will burn for roughly five minutes. The flame is consistently hot, giving off about three or four times the heat of a regular wood fire. It requires a hell of a lot of wind to put out, and even then I'm not totally sure if it WAS put out or just smouldering. What I do know is that you can wave a torch of it (stick with a gob on the end) like a drum majorette for several minutes, and the fire will not go out.

We never used more than a hundred mL or so of this stuff at a time, so I can't talk about large quantities. However, I'd hesitantly guess that you could keep a fireplace warm all night on a bucket of this stuff. That's maybe..a litre of petrol? Less?

Just a bit of information, FWIW.


btw, we also performed a couple of experiments with tar pebbles. They seem to be a pretty good stabiliser. If you wanted to, uh, smash open a road or something (we got ours from potholes, but if you want more than a few grams then I don't know where you'd look) adding tar to the mix (as a secondary reactant, set off by the heat of the "napalm") then it could slow the reaction down and make it burn for even longer.

-- Leo (leo_champion@hotmail.com), November 24, 1998


Yep, I made this concoction several years ago myself and while I can think of a couple of outdoor situations in which it might come in handy (no, we're NOT talking violence/arson here), it's definitely not something you'd ever want to use indoors or in a woodstove. It does burn very hot. And the fumes are terrible.

And don't get it within 50 yards of your food stores or you'll be eating petrol-flavored rice for the duration :-(

In the highly unlikely event you were trappped outside and all the wood was wet and you just happened to be carrying a small quantity of petrol and a used polystyrene cup, it might be useful to get the wood burning.

But don't let any of the burning dripping goo get on you - it doesn't 'rub off' - you just end up frying a larger patch of skin. You won't be able to blow out the flame either. You have to smother the hot burning plastic against your skin. (One of the more painful lessons of my youth :-(

Oh yeah, one other thing...if there are any air pockets in your gooey little balls, the can expand rapidly causing the burning mixture to sputter and splatter (and don't rub that eye! Just press your hand hard into it and smother the flame out. Sorry, I can't remember how you get your burned hand unglued from your burned eye.)

In all, I'd recommend the Tom Brown firestarting methods before using this one.


-- Arnie Rimmer (Arnie_Rimmer@usa.net), November 24, 1998.


This is a FOOL suggestion.

I second Arnie.

-- No Spam Please (anon@ymous.com), November 24, 1998.

The very best emergency firestarter is a road flare. Burns hot and can't be put out no matter what. A 30 minute flare will dry out wet wood and start it burning to the point where the fire will dry out its own wood in anything short of a hurricane. I can't take credit for this - picked it up from one of Niven and Pournelle's collaborations.

-- Paul Davis (davisp1953@yahoo.com), November 24, 1998.

Leo is having you on again, another student "rag", oh what fun it is to be back at skool.

-- Richard Dale (rdale@figroup.co.uk), November 24, 1998.

AW, C'MON Richard, don't you recognize the formula for Coil Dope, DIY type ????? Any Ham would recognize it.


-- Chuck, etc (rienzoo@en.com), November 24, 1998.

I think I'll stick to my original 'hard to start fire' plan. Portable propane torch.

-- MVI (vtoc@aol.com), November 24, 1998.

If I were a roving bandit who wanted to rove into someone's defended house, I'd put this stuff on my arrows.

Of course, when the house burned down it'd destroy all the stuff I'd wanted to take from the place anyway, but it's always nice to have a fire..


-- Leo (leo_champion@hotmail.com), November 26, 1998.

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