Is your water and your fire dangerously un-fun? Replenish your joy levels with this all-natural herbal supplement. Lycopodium powder can cause terrible grain elevator fires, but now can be used for fun experiments with both water and fire.
Lycopodium powder comes from an all-natural source. It's the spore of a family of club mosses that look like combinations of Christmas trees and hedgehogs. Since it disseminates freely in the air and is extraordinarily hydrophobic, it has caused some terrible fires. The powder is incredibly fine and it's hard to wet down. It catches fire at a relatively low temperature, and when it does, it turns into a dimensionless fireball that can ignite other materials. People have used it as flash powder — both intentionally and unintentionally.
For the private individual, it's most often used for fun little experiments. The easiest way to experiment is to pour lycopodium powder on water, where it will generally drift around the surface. Stick your finger through it, forcing both the finger and the powder underwater, and your finger will come out utterly dry, and covered in equally dry powder. The spores are so hydrophobic that they form a perfect barrier. If you get a bucket of lycopodium powder, try playing around with it, forcing groupings of it underwater and having them come out again as perfectly dry powder. It's cool.
If you have a little more time, a fireproof area, and some safety goggles, it's time to break out the fire. Lycopodium powder is harmless en masse, as long as it sticks together. Pour a small mound of the powder onto a plate, and it won't light even if you stick a flame in it. It's only when it's dispersed in air that it can be set alight.
You can make a lycopodium flame thrower, or fireball, by setting up a stable source of fire well away from you, and squirting small puffs of the powder at it. There are all kinds of contraptions for doing this. Some people blow the powder through a straw, or from a dried out ketchup-squirter, or through a tube. It can be puffed up to surround the flame, or squeezed across it, or — carefully and in limited quantities — sprinkled down. As soon as the first of the powder catches fire, the entire puff spreads outwards in a rounded fireball.
Lycopodium isn't just used by pyros. Because the powder can be grown, doesn't spoil easy, and is hard to get wet, it's a popular product for all kinds of things. It's likely coating your vitamins, making up some of the dust in latex gloves, and makes up part of the dust that the police use when dusting for fingerprints. Which they will if there are suspicious fires in your area, so do be careful when you try this out.
[Via Angelo.edu ]