Torch (juggling)

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Torch juggling in Salamanca, Tasmania

Juggling torches are one of various props used by jugglers. Torches are usually commercially made props that are made of wood and/or metal with a wick attached at one end. The wick is impregnated with a flammable substance (usually paraffin) and ignited before use.


The two most common wicks used with juggling torches are:

Both materials come in reels of material ranging from 13mm to 180 mm wide and up to 100 m long. Around 40–80 cm of wick is wrapped onto each torch. In general, it is best to use hard limiting devices, such as nuts and bolts, to hold the wick onto the shaft of the torch.


The torch is usually constructed around a wooden dowel which runs the length of the torch from the knob (base) to the top. The lower 8-10 inch section is fitted with a handle, and is the section the juggler uses to catch and throw the torch. The handle can be covered in spiral wound plastic, cloth or leather. The middle of the torch is often larger in diameter than the handle and this section helps to balance the torch and makes it easier to juggle. The upper portion of the dowel is often covered in metal (usually aluminium) with the uppermost section covered in a wick. The wick is wrapped around the top of the shaft several times and secured with screws into the wooden core.

Torches as described are commercially available from all the main juggling/circus skills manufacturers such as Renegade Juggling (as pictured above), Dubé, Beard, Flames 'N Games, Mister Babache, Henrys, Play, Infinite Illusions and cost anywhere from around 15GBP to around 25GBP each. The Ivan's Torch by SupremeFire retail at up to 105GBP ($199.99 USD) per torch.


The most common fuel used with juggling fire torches in the US is white gas, or Coleman fuel. Beginning torch jugglers usually use some form of lamp oil (like barbecue lighter fluid or kerosene) since it burns cooler than white gas and is easier on the club itself. Alcohol is generally not considered a good fuel for juggling torches. In the UK fire jugglers almost exclusively use paraffin (kerosene) or lamp oil - treated paraffin that emits less smoke. [1]


It is possible to buy flammable juggling balls. Gloves are often needed but not always; fyrefli juggling balls for example are designed so the flame sits a few centimeters above the hand. Ball juggling is easier than club juggling, and with juggling fire balls, any stage performances look impressive. However, juggling necessarily requires the hands to alternately grip the flaming balls for 1 or more 'juggling beats'(usually around 0.5 second), known as 'dwell time'. This restricts the size of flame and the duration of the burn to avoid overheating the hands, even with gloves. For these reasons all commercially available fire juggling balls use a smaller wick and flame than standard juggling torches. Some enthusiasts have attempted to overcome this problem using fuel-soaked balls of kevlar rope and welding gloves or similar, but have been unable to achieve more than 30 seconds of useful juggling before the gloves catch fire.

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