Fire breathing is the act of creating a fireball by breathing a fine mist of fuel over an open flame. Proper technique and the correct fuel create the illusion of danger to enhance the novelty of fire breathing, while reducing the risk to health and safety. When using the correct fuel, it will only light when sprayed into a fine mist increasing the surface area of the fuel so that the fuel/oxygen/heat ratio is balanced enough to cause combustion. Safety Performing with fire has many inherent risks. Having an actively spotting trained safety assistant with an appropriate fire blanket and fire extinguisher is an appropriate best practice when fire breathing and is a mandatory clause in most insurance policies for professional fire breathers. Training The vast majority of professional fire-breathers are apprenticed by a seasoned professional and it is strongly recommended that teaching oneself is avoided due to the extreme risks. Most people who are taught fire breathing and eating skills are seasoned performers in their own right and are taught under the condition that the skills are not passed on until they become a recognized fire performer in their own right. Virtually all recorded incidents of serious injury by fire breathing involve untrained individuals, often while under the influence of alcohol. Using an incorrect fuel is usually a strong contributing factor. Flash point To increase safety, fire breathers must avoid highly combustible fuels such as alcohol, spirit-based fuels, and most petrochemicals, instead using safer combustibles with a higher flash point (>50 °C). Due to its relatively safe (~90 °C) flash point, paraffin, or highly purified lamp oil, is the preferred fuel for fire breathing. Although corn starch has been cited as a non-toxic fuel, the hazards of inhalation increase t
e potential risk of lung infections. Wind Determining wind direction is extremely important when fire breathing. To determine the wind direction a fire breather will watch the flame on their torch and only breathe downwind. Breathing fire in high wind, or unpredictable wind, is not recommended. Many professional fire breathers/eaters will only perform indoors (with appropriate insurance and safety checks) as this removes the wind as a factor. Self-ignition With fire breathing, the greatest risk of self-ignition (lighting the clothing or costume) comes from using lower flash point fuels (like white gas) on the fire breathing torch. Untreated 100% cotton clothing is adequate for most experienced fire performers. Polyester clothing is not recommended, as it can easily melt, drip and stick to the skin when ignited. Flame-resistant treated cotton (i.e., Westex's INDURA fibre) or synthetic aramid-type fibre (i.e., DuPont's NOMEX fibre) long-sleeve shirts and trousers are recommended for fire performers (in general) who use the more combustible fuels on their torches. Non-flammable materials such as metal and leather are often recommended as costume choices, but as a lot of 'body-burning' techniques require bare skin it is often said that the less clothing worn the better.[by whom?] Many performers perform topless and it is not unknown for performers to perform almost or completely naked, usually female performers. This is usually not meant as an overtly sexual act but rather it increases the amount and variety of different techniques that can be utilised; with no clothing (or body hair) there is a markedly reduced risk of injury, especially to novice performers. Body painting is often used with nude fire performers in lieu of a costume, sometimes to give the impression that the performer is actually wearing a costume.