File puptcrit/puptcrit.0909, message 305


Date: Wed, 23 Sep 2009 22:37:47 EDT
To: puptcrit-AT-puptcrit.org
Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] Talcum powder


I think there has been some confusion about the combustibility of powders.  
Almost any powder, when  aerated can produce an explosion if ignited.  This 
has been known to happen in grain mills, or you may have seen  your science 
teacher blow the lid off a paint can by blowing powder into it  through a 
tube with a lit candle inside. The likelihood of a puff or two of  powder on 
a puppet stage igniting like this is extremely remote and poses little  
danger.
 
     -Steven->
 
 
In a message dated 9/23/2009 12:48:15 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time,  
joe-AT-dunfee.com writes:

> I  wonder if any of you have ever experienced it igniting  accidentally
>when using it for "smoke" or the  like.

Experiment!

The demonstrations I have seen involve  quantities about 1/2 table 
spoon "poofed" directly over a flame.  Try  it outside over concrete 
to be safe. If you start at this point or less,  and then build up, 
then you can see how  much  fire it  generates, and how safe you feel with 
it.

I have no idea the quantity  you would use.  The quantity needed for 
one of the giant puppets  mentioned reticently vs. a glove puppet 
would make a significant  difference in safety. Remember that corn 
starch is a normal household  substance used in your kitchen, where 
there may be open flame from a gas  stove. So, those quantities are 
generally accepted as safe.

Another  obvious issue is if there is open flame, a spark generator, 
cigarette  smoking, etc within reach of the poof.

I have read strong warnings on a  stagecraft maillist list that it 
should not be used on human-scale stages.  But, I get a sense that you 
would only use a small amount of powder, and  therefore the corn 
starch would be safe. But, personally, I would use  non-scented talcum 
powder.  Not so much for safety, but the fact that  it is a food 
product.  If it accumulates on your puppets, I might be  concerned 
that it would be a target for bugs.


Joe Dunfee   joe-AT-dunfee.com
Gordonville, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.  

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