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Lessons Learned from a First Hoop Burn

fire hooping advice
                   Author Jill Janosek spinning her fire hoop

Preparing for your first burn is an exciting and daunting task. The first step is research, which is most likely how you found yourself here! I started by looking through the files page in the Infinite Circles Community, they have a full section posted about fire safety and guidance written by experts. There is a ton of information posted there that goes much farther in depth, but today I would like to share the highlights from my first burning experience:

Getting the Fire Hooping Tools

If you want to burn you need the proper equipment, which can be broken down into a few basic parts:

a) A fire hoop. You can buy fire hoops that have built in wicks or you could go with quick wicks. I chose quick wicks because I wanted the versatility that comes with removable wicks. I purchased four and after some practice realized I would be more comfortable with three wicks to start, I attached them to my favorite hoop to be as comfortable as possible for my first time playing with fire! Now that I am a little more comfortable I cannot wait to move my quick wicks over to my ShelLED Hoop to add some light to the fire!

b) Proper clothing. You will want clothing that will not melt onto your skin if it catches fire, so stick to cotton, hemp, wool or jean clothing. You may see experienced fire dancers in crop tops or similar clothing items, but I would suggest having some sort of sleeve for your first burn. Sleeves will help keep your arms protected in case the wicks get hot and end up touching your arms. It is also helpful to have a hat or hood to protect your hair! If you cannot find a hat or hood, be sure to at least moisten your hair a bit and tie it back before getting started.

c) Fuel for your wicks. There are two forms are fuel that are commonly referred to when preparing for a burn the first one is white gas and the second version is lamp oil. These can be found in your local hardware store near the camping sections!

d) You will also need a few other items to make sure your first burn is safe and enjoyable. You will need a dipping tray, something that you can pour the fuel into to properly soak the wicks. A great suggestion I received was an old soup can thoroughly cleaned out! You will also need a fire extinguisher. this is just as a precaution, but you can never be too prepared!

 

Getting Comfortable with your Fire Hoop

Before you start lighting anything on fire it is highly recommended that you spend a good deal of time playing with your new prop. Fire hoops are significantly heavier than your standard hoop, get used to the weight and wick placement. Test our your favorite tricks and see where the hoops goes as you play. Pay close attention to the wick placement and the difference in movement due to weight. Get comfortable because it will only become more daunting the less practice you have. Some moves that I found easiest to start with were isos, wobbles, and vortexes. Keep it simple!

SAFETY FIRST!

Make sure you always have an experienced fire expert on hand for your first burn, have them double check your prop and explain how they inspect for frayed wires or anything else that may become hazardous. Ask questions, and have them talk you through the entire process from the first dip, through any safety procedures, all the way until the flames go out.
Dipping the Fire Wicks

You will pour some of the fuel into your dipping tray and place the end of each wick into the fuel, once they are properly soaked let them sit for a moment to make sure the fuel is not dripping. At this point do a final check of all your equipment and make sure your clothing is on snug, and comfortable.

Light that Fire Hoop Up!

Have your safety/ fire expert take a lighter and start the flames. Have fun, be safe, and listen to your safety!
One thing that I did not expect for my first burn was how short the amount of time the wicks stayed lit. The wicks were only lit for about five minutes before they started to go out on their own. If you are done before the wicks have gone out you can simply blow them out like a candle.

Burning is an exhilarating experience and one I know many flow artists plan to do. Each person who tries will have an entirely different prospective on what is the scariest part, for me it was anything on body because of the way the flames seemed to move so fast. For others the loud noise of “woosh” whenever the hoop pushed though the air that added an extra element of fear. But this is just another reason why it is important to have an experienced burner help you through the process! Ask questions, do more research than you think you should, and stay safe my fiery friends!