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Flammable Bouncing Balls

  1. Oct 16, 2005 #1
    No, I'm not crazy, nor will use them in an unethical manner. I simply want a novel subject to photograph for Advanced Photography (The judges probably haven't ever seen such a thing.) and to use on the 4th etc. I've tried setting bouncing balls on fire, doesn't work. How can I make them, or one from scratch, that is flammable to the point where it won't go out even when bouncing at high speed into the sky?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 16, 2005 #2
    I remember hearing about the "flaming balloon". Basically, this guy filled it up with hydrogen, soaked it in acetone, and then lit it and let it fly.

    I guess you could try soaking the balls in some flammable solvent like acetone and then lighting it. I doubt this will work. Ideally, you'll need some sort of fuse so you won't burn your hand off.
  4. Oct 21, 2005 #3
    So what does the acetone do in the balloon trick? Make the balloon latex itself flammable?

    Where do I get fuses? I've wondered this for years, because the fuses that are on some fireworks aren't nearly long enough. So I've wanted to modify them to give me time to get away and actually enjoy watching the thing go off; instead of running for my life.
  5. Oct 21, 2005 #4


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    the acetone put on the balloon is what would burn at first. If the actual rubber of the balloon was burning, it wouldnt stay a balloon very long, it would pop. It is like the trick where you put alcohol on your hand, then light your hand on fire. As long as you do it right, your hand is safe while the alcohol burns.
    Coating a ball with just about any type of flamable liquid would work. Light it on first, roll it off a table, and quickly take the picture.

    As for fuses, a really cheap-o verion I have come to use in some circumstances is a piece of paper. tear a paper strip and set it against the object you want to light, light the other end of the paper, and (assuming the paper doesnt blow away or go out), the fire will evenually move toward the other side.
  6. Oct 21, 2005 #5
    Ah, makes sense.
    If I have to do it that way, so be it. I'd much rather alter the chemistry of the ball itself, without ruining the bounce. Bouncing balls are intentionally made non-flammable correct? They're made from polymers made from hydrocarbons. You can't ask for much better burning stuff than hydrocarbons or materials made from them; so what's added to keep them from burning well?

    I've used those, but I was thinking more along the line of fuses with gunpowder, or whatever it is, in them that makes them burn fast.
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2005
  7. Nov 27, 2005 #6
    As much as I would love to see a Flaming Bouncy Ball, the melting rubber sticking to the surfaces of bouncing and the introduced shrapnial would be a turn down.

    Also try soaking the polymer balls in Kyrosene (spelling), for 10-15 minutes and see if that does the trink in breaking down enough of the surface for the ball to ignite. Most of those balls are very dense, and very smooth on the surface, that makes it hard to get enough oxygen to combust. Also another idea is porting the ball by drilling many small holes in the structure to allow it to vent while keeping its bouncy qualities.

    Its like trying to light Flour, you cant light a pile of Flour setting on a table, but if you vaporize it, your gonna need to regrow your eyebrows for a month.
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