How Fire Breathing Works

Other Fire Arts
A fire eater extinguishes a burning prop in his mouth.
A fire eater extinguishes a burning prop in his mouth.

Performers often use fire breathing as their grand finale, incorporating other fire stunts, juggling, magic or sideshow-style performances into their shows. Some other fire stunts include:

Fire eating: Performers create the appearance of eating fire by extinguishing a burning prop in their mouths. They can hold burning fuel in their mouths, since the surface of the fuel and its fumes burn, leaving the skin of the mouth unburned. Fire eaters can use also the burning fuel to light other fire props.

Spinning poi requires strength, flexibility and centrifugal force.

Juggling: "Just about any juggling prop, you can add fire to," says Garner. Props frequently used for customized for use in fire juggling include DiabolosDevil sticks, Torches and Staffs

Poi: Poi twirling is becoming increasingly popular in fire acts. Historically, Maori women used poi, which are balls on cords, to maintain arm strength and flexibility. The performer swings the poi very rapidly, and centripetal force keeps the cord taut. Burning poi create a dramatic display of fire and light.

For more information on fire breathing and related topics, check out the links below.

Related Articles

More Great Links


  • Benedetti, Winda. "Rings of Fire." Seattle Post-Intelligencer, July 3, 2001.
  • Burkhardt, Olaf, et al. "Electron Microscopic Findings in BAL of a Fire-eater after Petroleum Aspiration." Chest Journal, American College of Chest Physicians, January 27, 2003.
  • Fire Breathing.
  • "Fire Breathing Safety." Home of Poi.
  • National Fire Protection Association
  • North American Fire Artists Association.