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Equipment, Procedure & Safety

Equipment

  • Fire poi
  • 5l Bucket made of stiffish plastic with a lid that seals

Keep bucket sealed to prevent evaporation or splashes & spillage when transporting.

  • Pegs (2 per fire poi set)
  • Plastic bag or container to store fire poi
  • Towel
  • Lighter
  • First Aid kit / Burn treatment
  • Plastic box with lid to contain above

Clothes

  • Cotton pants and T-shirt / vest

Synthetics ignite easily and melt. Black or dark colours are preferable for not showing up black soot marks.

Fuel

  • Citronella oil (indoors)
  • Paraffin (outdoors)

Paraffin can be used indoors for a short period if the space is large and there is adequate ventilation but it is not recommended as it gets quite smoky and smelly. You can mix paraffin & citronella oil to mask smell.

It is essential to have enough fuel to be able to completely cover poi heads after your last burn.

Be aware that paraffin can spontaneously ignite if it gets very hot. This is rare and only a risk if many fire poi heads are immersed repeatedly in the same fuel bucket containing an inadequate volume of fuel. If paraffin gets hot, add more fuel. Do not hold an open flame above fuel bucket.

Procedure

Do not light up on your own. Always have a friend to help and to mind equipment. Make sure your friend is aware of proper procedures and can smother flames with the towel.

  • Set up equipment away from audience.
  • Make sure you have adequate fuel.
  • Towel should be slightly damp and on hand.
  • Soak fire poi heads in fuel for a few minutes.

About 5 – 10 minutes is good for a first burn. The longer you soak them, the more fuel they absorb up to a point (saturation) and the longer they will burn. Average burn time is 4-7 minutes.  Peg chains to top edge of bucket to prevent the chains from sliding into the fuel. In the event that handles fall into fuel, be sure to dry them off with a towel before use. Or better still, hang out in the sun until dry.

  • Lift poi and let excess fuel drip back into bucket.
  • Spin off excess fuel well away from people, animals and valuables (eg. car paint can be damaged).  This is to prevent fuel spinning off into the audience or your eyes.
  • Light poi from the side – never from underneath – and away from fuel bucket.
  • Peform within your competency range. Be calm and controlled – no wild swings ever. Pay attention at all times.

If you stop spinning and/or wish to transfer burning poi to someone else, pendulum them gently to prevent flame burning vertically up toward your hands.

If your chains get tangled, don’t panic. First try holding the handles slightly apart and bouncing poi up and down. If the tangle is slight, often one head will bounce over and untangle. Otherwise hold them slightly further apart and assess which chain is tangled and try bounce the appropriate head and chain over. If the chains are well knotted you may have to extinguish flames to untangle. Rather drop them if you are anxious (only if you are outdoors and not onto dry grass) – try not to drop the handles in the flames – then smother flames with a towel.

  • At the end of a burn, either:
  1. Spin fire poi hard, when you can see that flames are dying out, to extinguish.
  2. If you choose to end a burn before the flames are out, hold poi still and smother the heads completely in one move with the towel. It is easier to smother one at a time and to have someone help you.

It is then essential to get fire poi heads back into fuel as soon as possible. This is because while there is flame, the fuel is burning whereas once the flame has been extinguished, the poi head material is burning (smoldering). Take care of your fire poi and they will last much longer.

Take care not to breathe in the smoke/fumes from the poi heads when you return them to the fuel bucket.

  • At the end of a burn session, leave poi heads in fuel until they have cooled down before removing them to store. Seal bucket tightly.

You can store the fire poi with the heads in a plastic bag (not the handles, they will soak up paraffin).

Do not allow poi heads to get wet with water as they will be very difficult to light up again. If it is unavoidable, hang poi out in the sun to dry. This may take a few days of hot weather. It will still take quite a few burns to get rid of water completely and for fire poi light up properly.

If you get paraffin on your hands, wash them with soap and water. Paraffin can burn your skin and be absorbed into your bloodstream.

Dispose of paraffin bottles responsibly

If you have access to a recycling depot that accepts plastic then recycle (unfortunately East London no longers has facilities for recycling plastic), alternatively, return bottles to the store where you bought paraffin for re-use. Do not throw into garbage – apart from being an environmental hazard, it would be unfortunate should someone repurpose the bottle for drinking water.

Laundry

  • Wash fire clothes separately (or everything will smell of paraffin).
  • An apply-and-add-to-the-wash type stain remover works well on soot marks.

Practising with your fire poi unlit

  • Hang fire poi in the sun to dry. (Beware of rain.)
  • Wrap poi heads in clingwrap or a plastic bag and secure with sticky tape or elastic bands. This is to prevent any paraffin left in poi from spinning out onto you and to prevent black soot marks.

Exposure to the smell of paraffin for a long period of time can make you feel ill

  • Don’t leave paraffin container / paraffin-soaked poi in car for longer than necessary.
  • Don’t store paraffin container / paraffin-soaked poi in living area at home or camping.

First Aid / Burn treatment

  • If you exercise proper caution and restraint and perform within your capabilities there is no reason you should get burnt. Please be responsible.
  • Sign the indemnity form. Blaze Firedancing School is not responsible for your safety.
  • You will receive one lesson in First Aid and Fire Safety as part of your Beginners Poi Course.
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