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Flour seems a very innocuous material. A fundamental component of cooking, flour is seemingly nothing to be feared. But properly applied, flour can be a terrifying pyrotechnic surprise. After reading about spontaneous combustion and the nature of fire, I surmised the following:
  • Flour is a complex sugar.
  • Sugars are flammable. For example, wood, which is mostly cellulose, is quite flammable, but the same applies to Cheerios, table sugar, etc.
  • The flammability of any material is highly dependent on its surface area, because a higher surface area:mass ratio permits more oxygen to react with the fuel at once, breaking it down and releasing energy.
  • As many inexperienced cooks know, flour, undampened, can make a horrible fine cloud of powder all over the kitchen if a mixer is turned on.
And so I considered this knowledge. The natural conclusion of an adolescent male resulted.

In my backyard one evening we had a small fire. I surrepiticously obtained some flour from the kitchen. After some failed attempts at flame, I developed the HongPong recipe of Flour-Fireballery:

  1. Obtain about 1 cup of flour. Most any variety will do. However, it must be dry and fine. The finer, the better your results will be.
  2. Cup your hand in such a way that the end of your hand angles upwards, creating a streamlined dish shape.
  3. Fill your hand with the flour. Crouch low and aim towards a small to medium-sized campfire. (Perhaps act like you are warming your empty hand)
  4. Smile and talk with those around you. Suddenly ask, "Hey, what is that in the coals? It looks like a semiprecious stone! Look, right there!"
  5. Inhale deeply (without drawing in the flour!) and blow as hard as you can on your cupped hand. Optimally, try to angle the flour cloud upwards, above the flame.
  6. If you have done this correctly, a fine particulate mist will be over the fire. When the lowest particles catch fire (remember, flour's a sugar) it will spread rapidly, creating a fireball about 2 ft.^3 or so. The finer and wider the mist, the better your results will be.
  7. Enjoy a hearty laugh as those around you sputter in rage.

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