The “I’ve set fire to stuff” badge (LEVEL I).


In which the recipient has set fire to stuff, all in the name of general scientific curiosity. (AB)



  1. As a kid, I lost quite a bit of leg hair discovering that model rockets burn considerably faster at sea level than they did at a 5000 foot elevation summer camp. Fortunately I was using a stove lighter, so quite a bit of leg hair and a sulfurous smell were the only damage incured from this one.

  2. aerosol cans + lighters = flamethrowers, fear, FUN!
    We actually did measure the length of the flame from different sources. (Aquanet Hair Spray FTW!)

  3. Nature center teacher. If I can’t blow something up with my students, why bother going to work? Plus, we are excellent barbecuers.

  4. Was curious to gain some firsthand knowledge of how much difference in ignition there was between a steady spray and a fine mist – of vodka on a campfire. Quit a bit by the way. Sometimes it best to trust the literature.

  5. I think there should be a category for accidentally setting fire to your lab equipment. I was not curious in the slightest as to how well Delrin burned in a laser cutter. Alas, there was a blind spot on the work bed from where I was sitting, and I didn’t notice the flames until they had burned off a large chunk of the upper left hand corner of the piece of 3/8″ Delrin I was cutting parts from. The flames were really low, just larger than the thickness of the sheet itself, and slowly consuming it. I turned off the machine, doused the flames with a CO2 extinguisher (which wasn’t really necessary; I could have pulled the piece out and doused it in the sink), and went off to get the shop manager. The machine wasn’t damaged at all, and we were back to business as usual by the next day.

  6. I filled a fire extinguisher with gasoline, pressurized it to 80 psi with my air compressor, and then lit the gasoline that came out with a propane torch. The flame was ENORMOUS and the heat was felt 25 feet away.

    I’ve also filled a paint sprayer with gasoline. The flame that came out of that was hotter due to the fine mist, but it was a hell of a lot smaller.

  7. I can’t compare my anecdotes with these guys, but if you heat up stearine to ~300 C, the flame was huge considering how little stearine there was (according to me, I assume there’s people who disagree). The flame was easily close to a meter high, and it “flamed up” in an instant.

  8. I once put aluminum covered butter in the microwave. The aluminum started to spark. I was very close by and I quickly opened the microwave door. However the aluminum and butter was already on fire by that time.

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