4B70.10 Fire Syringe
Adiabatic compression, ideal gas law
This fire syringe consists of a glass tube with a tightly-fitted piston inside the tube. When the piston is pushed down quickly, the air inside the tube is compressed. The quick compression of the air in the tube causes a rapid temperature increase that ignites a low flash-point material such as a small piece of flash paper.
-  Fire syringe
-  Tweezers
-  Straw
-  Long Q-tip
-  Long wire
-  Foam
-  Lubricant
- Small pieces of flash paper
-  Safety glasses
- Swab out the tube to make sure the inside of the tube is dry and free from any residues.
- If the O-rings on the plunger appear to be dry, apply lubricant to the 'O' ring and spread the lubricant thoroughly by working plunger up and down several times.
- Take a small piece of flash paper from the container using tweezers and position it at the bottom of the tube.
- Insert the ignition tube into ignition tube housing.
- Refrain from touching the flash paper by hand to avoid introducing moisture to the paper.
- Put on your safety glasses.
- Place the fire syringe on top of the foam.
- Raise the plunger to its highest point.
- Hold the housing firmly and quickly push down on the plunger.
- If ignition does not occur, try pushing down more forcefully or replace the piece of paper with a smaller piece.
- Remove any combustion residues using a long wire and a Q-tip.
- PIRA 4B70.10
- Instruction sheet accompanying Science Kit Fire Syringe
- Sutton H-179; Freier P214; DHP He-5; Miller p190; Edser p266
- H. Balfour, "The Fire-Piston" from "Anthropological Essays Presented to Edward Burnett Taylor in Honour of His 75th Birthday," Oxford, 1907
- The old web site had dead links labelled "The Firepiston: Ancient Firemaking Machine" and "The Amazing Firepiston"
- Don't attempt this at home!
If you have any questions about the demos or notes you would like to add to this page, contact Ricky Chu at ricky_chu AT sfu DOT ca.