Make a DIY self-igniting flaming arrow (on second thought...)

Whether you want to fight off the zombie hordes or just be popular at school, knowing how to make these flaming projectiles could be a critical survival skill.

Michael Franco
Freelancer Michael Franco writes about the serious and silly sides of science and technology for CNET and other pixel and paper pubs. He's kept his fingers on the keyboard while owning a B&B in Amish country, managing an eco-resort in the Caribbean, sweating in Singapore, and rehydrating (with beer, of course) in Prague. E-mail Michael.
Michael Franco
2 min read

Flame on! Video screenshot by Michael Franco/CNET

Shooting arrows is fun, but you know what makes the activity even more fun? That's right, fire!

Thanks to a new YouTube video from tinkerer NightHawkInLight (who introduces himself in his profile simply as "Ben"), you too can be shooting flaming arrows in your own backyard in just a few simple steps. Specifically, this involves outfitting an arrow-launching slingshot with a 9-volt battery and attach a tuft of steel wool to the shaft of an arrow.

When you pull the slingshot back to prepare it for launch, the steel wool comes in contact with the battery's terminals, and a current passes through it, causing the metallic filaments to burst into flame. At that point, it's probably best not to get too caught up in the science of the thing, though, because you have just a few seconds to launch your flaming projectile.

That's it. With one simple invention you can terrify your neighbors and lay siege to those insidious weeds on your lawn.

Of course, just because you can do something doesn't mean you should. Keep in mind the statement that kicks off the video: "Fire arrows can be dangerous in every way that normal arrows are with the obvious additional risk of potentially causing fires wherever a spark may fall. I film projects like this because they're entertaining and interesting to learn about, but please, do not try this at home."

Instead, you could consider checking out some of NightHawk's other cool videos, such as the one that shows you how to pick a lock using hairpins or make a rocket engine using pasta as the solid fuel source. That's right. Pasta.