Phenomena

Fire-Breathing

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In this high-speed video, the Slow Mo Guys demonstrate fire-breathing. Rather than using a liquid fuel like kerosene, they utilize cornstarch, which is both easily flammable and non-volatile thanks to its powdered form. Blowing out the cornstarch creates a turbulent jet of cornstarch and air. Combine that with a combustion source, and the cornstarch quickly deflagrates, meaning that the flame propagates via heat transfer. When neighboring regions of cornstarch become hot enough, they ignite and the flame front expands. You can observe this in the flame growth shown in the video; just after ignition the cornstarch jet is much wider than the fire and it takes some time for the flames to catch up with the jet. Although a liquid-fueled fireball operates by the same principles, it can look rather different. For comparison, check out this high-speed video of a WD-40 fireball. And, hopefully it goes without saying, but don’t try this stuff at home. (Video credit: The Slow Mo Guys)

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