Fire balloons, also known as sky lanterns, are miniature hot air balloons. They have been used all over the world to celebrate certain cultural holidays.They originated in the East and are used by the Japanese for their annual Festival of Lights Celebration. Historically fire balloons consisted of paper bags filled with hot air. Today thin plastic bags are often used. Fire balloons spotted in the night sky have sometimes been mistakenly identified as UFOs.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
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Things you need
- Plastic produce bag
- 1/8-inch strips of balsa wood
- Birthday cake candles
- Clear plastic tape
- Stick matches
Take a thin, plastic produce bag commonly found in grocery store produce departments. Scrunch the bag up around its opening and blow into it to check that it's airtight.
Lay the mouth of the bag flat on a table and measure the diameter of the opening. A standard size produce bag will be about 15 inches across.
Cut two pieces of 1/8-inch wide balsa strips just long enough to span the diameter of the bag opening. Use scissors to cut the balsa wood.
Lay them on a flat surface making sure they're perpendicular to each other and tape them with clear plastic tape where they intersect in the middle. Pick them up and wrap the tape underneath the balsa wood.
Cut two small birthday candles in half with the scissors. On the two bottom halves, peel away the wax to reveal the wick.
Light a full-length birthday candle and drip hot wax on one strip of balsa wood about 1 inch from the point where the two strips of balsa intersect. Press the base of one of the cut candles into the hot wax. Make sure the candle is sitting vertical, straight up and down. Repeat for the remaining three candles and corresponding three strips of balsa.
Carefully pick up the balsa wood strips with the candles attached and carefully place the bag over candles. Tape the bottom edge of the bag at the end of each strip of balsa. Make sure the bag is stretched evenly over the four balsa end points.
Carry the fire balloon outdoors after dark. Hold the produce bag by its sealed end or have someone else hold it. Light a stick match and reach up under the bag to light the candles sealed with wax to the balsa wood strips.
Release the fire balloon once the lit candles inside of it have created enough hot air that it begins to rise.
Tips and warnings
- Do not release a fire balloon unless the ground is damp from rain or dew to prevent starting a fire.
- Never release a fire balloon when foliage is dry due to not enough rainfall.
- Don't release a fire balloon where it might float over buildings and start a fire.
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