We built a swirling vortex of fire over 4 metres tall for the crowds at EMF 2018

It was great!


For those who don’t know, EMF is a fabulous festival of geekery, where there are all sorts of making, hacking and technology, with talks on topics from tweetable wedding dresses through how to dispose of dead bodies, to animatronics for movies.

Last time we were at EMF we heard rumours that they wanted more fiery installations so we started thinking and researching. And what we decided on was to run a firenado.

Check out these great videos from twitter:

Firenadovideo from @nataceae

Firenado video from @DrFootleg


Firenado video from @TheArduinoGuy

We use ten 18-inch 80W fans to swirl air in towards a fire pit with a 50cm paella dish full of burning fuel (isopropyl alcohol and barbecue lighting fluid). As the air is drawn in the vortex accelerates, just like bath water down the plug hole. The extra air makes the fire burn hot and the flames get bigger, growing the vortex into a column of fire. This column of hot rising burning gas actually acts as a chimney drawing the air in at the bottom even faster.

The crowd seemed to enjoy the fire and we certainly did! Fortunately the only fire engine that needed to attend was Mark’s Hack Racer Rule Zero!


Thanks EMF for sponsoring us (and trusting us) to do it. Also I want to give a quick mention as we took a lot of inspiration from the Firenado YouTube videos from NightHawkInLight and Unallocated Space; thanks guys!

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