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Thread: Materials to demonstrate how things burn

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    Materials to demonstrate how things burn

    We are running a fire based meeting on Saturday for our Cubs.

    4 bases:

    - fire lighting
    - treating burns
    - fire theory
    - how things burn

    For the "how things burn" section I want to give the cubs a collection of everyday materials that they can burn on a fire so that they can appreciate how different things catch light and burn. I was thinking of things like: tent material, clothing, a plastic bag, a pen etc.

    Can anyone suggest any other materials that would be good to include?

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    You could include something like alcohol hand cleansing gel. It burns with no flame so just looks like it's sitting there, but, if you wave a wee bit of tissue over it, it'll catch fire.

    It might demonstrate how something can be burning, but it not be obvious. (Mind and buy hand gel with alcohol in it though... Been down that road... )

    Meths works for this too.

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    I can think of a few things that would be good to exclude or, at least, burned only by a consenting adult at a safe distance. Burning plastics produce toxic smoke. The worst are probably polystyrene and particularly PVC. The tube of a BIC pen is polystyrene so if that is the pen you were thinking of burning take care. A disposable plastic bag is, and a reusable probably is, polyethylene which is less toxic.

    A quick google took me to
    http://www.wecf.eu/cms/download/2004...g_plastics.pdf
    which could be a useful.
    John Russell
    ex-CSL now ACSL 1st Pinhoe Exeter Devon
    Cubs don't care how much you know, but they need to know how much you care.

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    ESL and DESC ianw's Avatar
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    Pringles
    Doritos
    Hula hoops
    Paper
    Cotton wool balls
    Cotton wool balls with a smear of Vaseline on them
    Birch bark
    Paraffin
    Meths
    Ian Wilkins
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    Quote Originally Posted by pa_broon74 View Post
    You could include something like alcohol hand cleansing gel. It burns with no flame so just looks like it's sitting there, but, if you wave a wee bit of tissue over it, it'll catch fire.

    It might demonstrate how something can be burning, but it not be obvious. (Mind and buy hand gel with alcohol in it though... Been down that road... )

    Meths works for this too.
    When I were a lad I made ramps and things on my bedroom floor to jump my dinky cars over. I thought it would be fun to jump them through a ring of fire. I made the ring with cotton wool wrapped round a bit of wire and soaked in meths. When I lit it I couldn't see it burning so I poured some more meths on straight from the bottle. I dropped the burning bottle pretty sharpish, and my brother and I managed to smother the fire with the carpet. We moved our bedroom around to hide the evidence from our parents and it wasn't until several years later during redecoration that they were puzzled by the scorched floorboards.
    John Russell
    ex-CSL now ACSL 1st Pinhoe Exeter Devon
    Cubs don't care how much you know, but they need to know how much you care.

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    A small puddle of petrol to show why you should never ever start a fire using petrol - light it from a distance with a taper tied to a long stick and stand well back.

    A cloud of powered milk, flour or mashed potato powder to show how clouds of fine dust produce spectacular fireballs - on second thoughts that might be too tempting for them to reproduce!

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    Senior Member BalooNav's Avatar
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    can you get hold of some magnesium ribbon?

    Sent from my SM-G903F using Tapatalk

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nick View Post
    A small puddle of petrol to show why you should never ever start a fire using petrol - light it from a distance with a taper tied to a long stick and stand well back.

    A cloud of powered milk, flour or mashed potato powder to show how clouds of fine dust produce spectacular fireballs - on second thoughts that might be too tempting for them to reproduce!
    Flour is quite spectacular:
    1. Nominate chosen well-behaved cub. Make sure hair is tied back, necker off or on backwards, etc.
    2. Pour half a cup of flour onto a plate, spread it out over the plate.
    3. Give cub plate + drinking straw
    4. Cub puts one end of straw in mouth, other end in flour. Hold plate + flour about a foot away from the fire, and blow (towards flames).

    You might want to try this out yourself first to see how to get it to work.

    Afterwards, discuss why so many flour mills burnt down in quite spectacular fashion...

    It also demonstrates the need for lots of surface area (you can try burning a lump of flour, nothing will happen). Hence, discuss why when making a fire, you start with kindling/cotton wool / small twigs, and not bloomin' great logs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nick View Post
    A small puddle of petrol to show why you should never ever start a fire using petrol - light it from a distance with a taper tied to a long stick and stand well back.

    A cloud of powered milk, flour or mashed potato powder to show how clouds of fine dust produce spectacular fireballs - on second thoughts that might be too tempting for them to reproduce!


    Petrol - actually is NOT a good example on its own. You can extinguish a lighted taper in petrol. The outcome varies depending upon the temperature. If the temperature is low and the vapour from the petrol is low, it will not ignite, or may ignite and extinguish itself. If the temperture is warm, it will give off more vapour and the vapour will light. - A good example of requiring the stochiometric mix.

    1/ take a saucer from the fridge/ freezer and put a little petrol init and try and light it. Chances are you will find it difficult to light
    2/ take a warm saucer and repeat the experiment - the chances are the petrol will light readily.

    Alternative.

    A/ Put some parafin in a saucer and try and light it. It will extinguish the flame. (I've had an eedjit thrust a burning firestaff into a pan of parafin and the flame went out).
    B/ Repeat with Petrol ( warm saucer)
    C/ Repeat with Meths - use a longer taper - esp. if the saucer is warm!!!

    D/ go back and repeat but each time soak a small piece of wood in the fuel. They can then see how they each impact the accelleration of the fire. - (Meths is rubbish as a fire starter - but excellent at removing eyebrows.)

    Good opportunity to demo parafin lamps - wick and pressure.
    Ewan Scott

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    Nawyecka Comanch'": "Means roundabout--man says he's going one way, means to go t'other" Ethan Edwards - The Searchers



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    This isn't a burny burnyy thing per se.

    But our Scouts love seeing the Magnesium Permanganate/Glycerol/wee touch of water method of fire starting...

    (Edit. I'd quite like to see this done with the mixture under some pressure or contained... I think it might be, ummm, interesting...)

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    Quote Originally Posted by BalooNav View Post
    can you get hold of some magnesium ribbon?

    Sent from my SM-G903F using Tapatalk
    Just don't do what I tried to do as a lad, and light it from one of those old-fashioned electric bar fires in my bedroom -- luckily I just got an electric shock as I was holding it in my hand; I dread to think what would have happened if it had lit... Lesson learned
    A week of camp life is worth six months of theoretical teaching in the meeting room. Baden-Powell

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    Another thing you can try, sort of related to burning things are match candles, or mandles, or ummm, catches?

    Standard box of matches, some toilet roll, and candles or tea lights.

    You roll your match in some toilet roll keeping the match tip out in the open, just maybe three or five turns (if you see what I mean). Meanwhile, have a tea light lit so the wax is all melted or just melt some candles in an old tin pot.

    Dip your candle-rolled-in-bog-roll until it sodden with melted wax and allow to dry/solidify fully.

    You end up with a waterproof match, that when lit, burns a lot longer (like minutes) and a lot more steadily. We spent a night at Scouts doing it and it went down well as an activity.

    I suppose it could be used to show why a candle works as it does, the wax keeps the wick burning steadily, as it does with the matchstick. It's particularly good with long matches.

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    We ran a similar session, inspired by a Scout getting a bit close for comfort to the fire in his sleeping bag on a remote Bushcraft camp.

    The important ones for us was demonstrating a tent and sleeping bag burning and how quick it can be.

    Also did Petrol/ Diesel/ Oil as well as more day to day items to prove the point.
    --
    Dan Sheehan
    Group Scout Leader
    9th Muswell Hill Scout Group

    District Training Adviser
    District Executive Member
    District Appointment Advisory Comittee
    North London District Scouts

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    Almonds burn quite nicely when you get them lit because of the oil in them. I guess some other nuts will too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by daveb123 View Post
    Almonds burn quite nicely when you get them lit because of the oil in them. I guess some other nuts will too.
    We have in the past made almond pop corn.

    You take a paper clip and bend it so that you can skewer an almond so it's held up right. You build a tiny tripod out of tin foil with a concavity at the top big enough to hold a pop corn kernel. Light the almond. Place the tripod over lit almond, adjust for optimal heating. Wee drop of oil and a kernel goes into the concavity - and wait. (Sometimes quite a long time.)

    It's all about when it pops... You can see it swell up but don't know when it'll eventually pop. It won't have your eye out or anything, but it's fun...

    This can also be done with tealights instead of almonds.

    (Hint. Make a batch of pop corn in the kitchen as the kids are doing this...)

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