An artificial abrasive made of long, fine steel shavings; used for scouring kitchen utensils and for shining and polishing metal objects. Works well, but chews up the metals, and sometimes pokes your skin. Not something you wanna use on your teflon pan.

Steel wool also makes very good and relatively safe fireworks. All you need is a lighter, a coat hanger, and a piece of soap-free steel wool.

Straighten the coat hanger and make a small hook on one end. On the other end, make a right-angle handle with enough wire to be able to spin the length of wire in your hand easily.

Fray one end of the steel wool so that it fuzzes out to individual fibers. Embed the other end on the hook and press it there firmly so that it stays in place when the wire is spun. Test it, spinning the wire rapidly. the steel wool should describe a circle and stay on the wire even at high speeds.

Light the steel wool at the frayed end with the lighter. as soon as it starts burning, spin the wire. A huge wheel of sparks will fly from the steel wool, and will continue until it is consumed. The flying embers burn out very quickly, and create a very dramatic effect. The best place to do this is in the middle of a street, and for maximum safety be sure to orient the direction of spin so that the wheel goes along the street, not perpendicular to it.

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