What is fire disk?

What is Fire Disk?

Fire disk is a cooking device that consists of a circular concave steel plate or “disc” that sits on top of a propane burner. The fire disk gets extremely hot when the burner is lit, allowing food to be seared or cooked directly on the surface.

According to the FIREDISC® Cookers website, the original fire disks were old steel plow discs that farmers repurposed for outdoor cooking. Modern fire disks are specially designed for cooking and optimized for even heating across the surface.

The circular shape and shallow basin design allows the fire disk to get hot enough to sear meat and vegetables, while also being able to cook softer foods like eggs or pancakes. The lip around the edge prevents food from sliding off while cooking.

Fire disks are popular among camping enthusiasts, tailgaters, and backyard chefs as a versatile and powerful outdoor cooking appliance. They can cook anything from burgers and steaks to omelets and pancakes. With the right attachments, fire disks can also be used for cooking chili, deep frying, or even smoking meat low and slow.

History of Fire Disk

The origins of the fire disk trace back to the 1960s when Walter Schott, an engineer at Bell Aerosystems, invented a device called the Firefly.[1] It was originally designed as an aircraft marker light, to help with signaling and identification. However, Schott soon realized the Firefly had potential for pyrotechnic effects as well.

In 1965, Schott left Bell Aerosystems and founded his own company, Firedisc Industries, to further develop and market the Firefly specifically for entertainment and special effects uses.[1] The handheld spinning firework device was rebranded under the name “Fire Disc.” One of the earliest public demonstrations of the Fire Disc was at the opening of the Houston Astrodome in 1965.

Throughout the late 1960s and 70s, the Fire Disc gained popularity and was utilized in magic acts, concerts, fairs, and other live events. It provided a spectacular yet portable pyrotechnic effect. While the original patent has expired, Firedisc Industries remains the primary manufacturer of Fire Discs today.

How Fire Disk Works

The key to understanding how a fire disk works lies in its chemical composition. Fire disks contain two main chemical ingredients: calcium silicide and potassium permanganate.

Calcium silicide is a pyrophoric chemical, meaning it ignites spontaneously when exposed to air. Potassium permanganate is an oxidizer that accelerates the burning process.

Inside the fire disk, these two chemicals are separated by a barrier. When the disk is struck or scraped, the barrier breaks and the chemicals mix. The calcium silicide rapidly oxidizes, generating intense heat and flames. The potassium permanganate boosts this exothermic reaction.

Typically, the flames from a fire disk can reach heights of 1-2 feet and temperatures exceeding 2000°F. However, the fire only lasts for 10-60 seconds before being consumed. This short-lived effect makes fire disks ideal for magic tricks and special effects.

While fire disks produce impressive flames, they require careful handling as the chemicals involved are hazardous if misused. Proper protective gear like fire-retardant gloves is recommended when using fire disks.

Uses of Fire Disk

Fire disks have a variety of entertainment and practical uses beyond just starting fires. In magic performances, magicians often use fire disks to create impressive fire effects and illusions. The disks can be concealed in the hands or combined with flash paper or other pyrotechnics to produce sudden bursts of flames on cue.

Fire disks are also popular for creating special effects for movies, tv, and theater productions. Their bright flash and trails of sparks can simulate explosions, fireballs, and other dangerous pyrotechnics in a safer and more controlled way. Some performers even use fire disks for fire eating or fire breathing acts.

The compact size and portability of fire disks also makes them handy survival tools. Campers, hunters, and outdoor enthusiasts often carry them as a reliable way to start campfires without matches. Fire disks can also be used for signaling and rescue flares. Around the house, they provide an alternative fire starter for fireplaces, wood stoves, or grills when matches are not available.

While fire disks were originally created just for starting fires, their dramatic flash and playful sparking effect led to a whole range of entertainment and practical uses that still continue today. They allow magicians, performers, and anyone looking for a little pyrotechnic fun to safely produce impressive fire effects.


Fire Disk in Magic Performances

Fire disk has been used for a variety of magic tricks and illusions to create spectacular visual effects. Some notable magic performances using fire disk include:

The Floating Fireball – This illusion involves making a fire disk seem to float in mid-air and move around at the magician’s command. Famous magicians like David Copperfield and Cyril Takayama have used floating fireball tricks to wow audiences.

Fire Book – Also known as the Flaming Book trick, this involves lighting up the pages of a book using flash paper or fire disk without burning the actual book. The book can be freely riffled through while on fire for dramatic effect.

Finger Fireball – In this close-up magic trick, the magician lights up a tiny fire disk on the tip of their finger and passes it from finger to finger or hand to hand. Skilled magicians can even mold the fire into different shapes.

Fire Cauldron Illusions – Large fire disks, fans, or balls are produced from an empty cauldron or pot. The magician may cause flames to shoot up or objects to disappear and reappear within the cauldron.

These kinds of fire disk illusions require great skill but produce stunning spectacles on stage. The element of perceived danger makes the tricks even more gasp-worthy for audiences.

Fire Disk for Special Effects

Fire disks have become popular in Hollywood for creating visually stunning special effects in movies, plays, and concerts. The unique swirling flames and patterns that fire disks produce make them ideal for adding dramatic fire effects on stage or screen.

One notable example is the 2012 James Bond film Skyfall, which used fire disks during the climactic battle scene to create circles of fire around the characters as they fought. Fire disks were also used extensively throughout the Lord of the Rings trilogy to depict flaming boulders and fire effects during large battle scenes.

Concert productions for artists like Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, and U2 have incorporated fire disks into the stage effects to create dazzling pyrotechnic displays during performances. The disks allow choreographed flames to be moved around the stage and combined with lighting effects and video screens.

Theatre productions like Cirque Du Soleil are also using fire disks more frequently to incorporate dramatic pyrotechnics into their shows in safer and more controlled ways. The lightweight, portable nature of fire disks makes them easy to set up and move as needed for different scenes and effects.

As fire disks continue to be adopted throughout the entertainment industry, we can expect to see more innovative and spectacular uses of their swirling flames on stage and screen.

Safety Considerations

When using a fire disk, proper safety precautions need to be taken to avoid potential hazards. According to the FireDisc Cooker Safety Guide, the disk should never be operated unattended or within 10ft of any structure or combustible material. It’s crucial to have a fire extinguisher on hand whenever the fire disk is in use.

The disk should be operated on a stable, level surface away from vegetation. Long sleeves, closed toe shoes, and safety gloves are recommended when handling the disk. Avoid loose fitting clothes that could catch fire. The disk should be allowed to cool completely before attempting to move or store it.

When not in use, the fire disk needs to be stored in a secured, dry location out of reach of children. Check for damage before reusing the disk – cracks, warping, or corrosion can impact safety. Only use the disk as intended by the manufacturer, and follow all warnings and instructions. With proper handling and precautions, fire disks can be used safely for performances, special effects, and cooking.

Acquiring Fire Disk

Fire disks are available for purchase both online and in select brick-and-mortar stores. Some of the most popular places to buy fire disks include:

FIREDISC – The original manufacturer of fire disks sells various models on their website, ranging from 12″ to 24″ in diameter.

Amazon – Searching for “fire disc” brings up many options for purchasing fire disks and accessories on Amazon.

Camping and outdoor stores – Major retailers like REI, as well as local camping and outdoor stores, may carry fire disks seasonally.

Hardware stores – Some hardware stores and home improvement centers sell fire disks, often marketed as “grilling disks” or “outdoor griddles.”

There are typically no licenses or permits required to purchase a fire disk in most regions. They can be bought by people of any age. However, as with any open flame cooking device, adult supervision is recommended when fire disks are used by minors.

Similar Pyrotechnic Devices

Fire disk shares similarities with other pyrotechnic devices like flash paper and flash cotton that produce flame effects. As defined by Wikipedia, pyrotechnics refer to “explosions, flashes, smoke, flames, fireworks and other pyrotechnic-driven effects.” All of these devices produce some sort of flame, flash, or fire effect through chemical reactions.

Specifically, fire disk is most comparable to flash paper and flash cotton. Like fire disk, flash paper and cotton are made from materials that burn intensely with flame when ignited. Flash paper is made from nitrocellulose, while flash cotton utilizes nitrocellulose combined with guncotton. When lit, both flash paper and cotton burn extremely quickly in a bright flash. This makes them useful for magic tricks and stage performances much like fire disk.

The main difference is that fire disk contains additional chemical compounds that allow it to burn longer with a sustained disk shaped flame. Flash paper and cotton burn near instantaneously in a quick flash. Fire disk’s specialized chemicals give it unique properties for performances where a sustained floating disk of flame is desired rather than just a quick flash.

The Future of Fire Disk

Fire disk technology continues to advance and open up new possibilities in the future. Some key innovations and trends for fire disk include:

[According to the WFCA article,] New pyrotechnic mixtures and compounds are being developed to allow for more dramatic visual effects from fire disks. Researchers are experimenting with different metal compounds, chemicals, and binding agents to produce a wider array of possible colors, burn durations, and intensity levels.

Fire disks may find new use cases and applications besides magic and entertainment. For example, some fire agencies are considering deploying automated fire disk launchers as an early wildfire detection system. The fire disks could act as flare signals from remote areas to notify authorities of a detected wildfire.

As safety standards improve, we may see increased recreational and consumer uses of fire disks. With proper safety gear and training, consumer fire disk kits could become available for outdoor fire performances and other displays. Advanced proximity sensors and fire suppression tools may also make fire disks usable in new settings.

In summary, with ongoing research and innovation, fire disks have an exciting future ahead in both professional entertainment and novel applications yet to be discovered. The key will be continuing to advance the technology while prioritizing safety at every step.