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Old 01-18-2013, 06:38 AM   #1
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Setting a body on fire after pouring alcohol on it

In one of my current WIP (Vampire Killer #02), there's a scene where the MCs are fighting a vampire, and their holy water gets wasted, so MC #1 goes to the fridge, gets out a flavored malt beverage (a "wine cooler" without actual wine), pours it on the vamp, and sets him on fire. He'll then burst into flames and get destroyed. How plausible is this? These drinks are typically around 11.2 fluid ounces, 3.2% of which is alcohol. Would that be enough, or would she need something stronger?
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Old 01-18-2013, 06:51 AM   #2
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NOPE...those type of drinks are more water than alcohol.

You need something at least 80 proof or higher...
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Old 01-18-2013, 06:55 AM   #3
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If she's got time to get to the fridge, then I have to assume fang-face is incapacitated. Why not just set his clothes on fire? Otherwise, she'll need to grab hard liquor or some sort of flammable cleaner from under the sink.
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Old 01-18-2013, 07:41 AM   #4
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Historical note. The term 'proof' developed to prove that there was booze in something. I think 80 proof is about where you get certainty of fire. In ye olde days, folks would try to light things on fire to prove that there was alcohol in it, if it lit that was proof.
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Old 01-18-2013, 10:45 AM   #5
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I don't know if you can work it in but pure methanol burns without a flame, so maybe your MC grabs a bottle of mentholated spirits. At the very least it would be fun trying to describe the vampire burning alive without any visible fire.
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Old 01-18-2013, 11:11 AM   #6
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crème brûlée torch

Pam in a can

This is flammable. No, I'm not going to tell you how I know.
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Old 01-18-2013, 11:13 AM   #7
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Charcoal lighter fluid. Diesel. Grab a can of WD-40 or spray paint or old-fashioned aerosol hairspray, and light the spray stream with your bic for an impromptu flame-thrower...
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Old 01-18-2013, 11:21 AM   #8
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crème brûlée torch

Pam in a can

This is flammable. No, I'm not going to tell you how I know.
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Charcoal lighter fluid. Diesel. Grab a can of WD-40 or spray paint or old-fashioned aerosol hairspray, and light the spray stream with your bic for an impromptu flame-thrower...
I can't help but wonder how our two top ladies are so knowledgeable and so suddenly responded within minutes of each other.

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Old 01-18-2013, 11:37 AM   #9
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I've lit all of the things on my list at least once. And a bunch of other stuff I dismiss as being not particularly practical under the described circumstances, like phosphorous.

I was a total firebug kind of a kid (and did a lot of props and special effects work for college theater).
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Old 01-18-2013, 02:53 PM   #10
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I'm not sure - I've tried to set fire to tequila a couple of times and it didn't take (don't ask, student days).

I think you're better off with something like drain cleaner, aerosols like furniture polish or deordorant would work too - like a mini flame thrower, but the risk of burning yourself is quite high. As others have said, meths works well too.
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Old 01-18-2013, 05:54 PM   #11
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Another p[roblem with using alcohol is that alcohol flame is not very hot. Even if you used 151 rum, the vampire might just have some burned hair and clothes (clothes might just get cleaned instead). Petroleum distillates are much better for burning things.

A wooden spoon through the heart would be more likely to kill a vampire.

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Old 01-18-2013, 06:09 PM   #12
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Old 01-18-2013, 06:23 PM   #13
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Vampire...wooden spatula through the heart...
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Old 01-18-2013, 06:38 PM   #14
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We used to blowtorch cockroaches with Right Guard when I was in the navy. Never did set the room on fire or blow up a can in the hand.

Alcohol, in the form of 80 proof or better seems much more likely to be within reach though.
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Old 01-18-2013, 07:10 PM   #15
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I don't know how well vampires burn. But humans don't burn very well. A gallon of gas, lighter fluid, et cetera, are not likely to cause immediate death, although the prognosis for ultimate survival would not be high. You're looking at gallons (plural) of gasoline to result in definite death within minutes. And people have been known to run while totally engulfed in flames. Human skin is a good insulator of heat and for quick death, you need to raise core temperature significantly.

Best of luck,

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Old 01-18-2013, 08:09 PM   #16
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Charcoal lighter fluid. Diesel. Grab a can of WD-40 or spray paint or old-fashioned aerosol hairspray, and light the spray stream with your bic for an impromptu flame-thrower...

Anyone who's ever seen the original Buffy movie knows this.
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Old 01-18-2013, 08:42 PM   #17
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FYI - when dealing with alcohol, proof = 2x actual percentage of amount of alcohol. So something that's 80 proof would be considered to have 40% alcohol.
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Old 01-18-2013, 08:43 PM   #18
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Thanks for the responses, everyone! I think I'm gonna go with the can of Pam (or I might say "cooking spray" to avoid any potential legal problems.

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Vampire...wooden spatula through the heart...
Hehe. The problem with that is my series is sticking closer to actual vampire mythology, and I've read that wooden stakes merely serve to hold the vampire in place, and you have to kill them via another method.
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Old 01-18-2013, 08:48 PM   #19
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That is semicorrect. The stake has a both literal and symbolic function. Since vampires are magic, the symbolic is just as important, as magic is all about symbolism.

The preferred method of actually killing the vampire is decapitation. apparently both are necessary. Perhaps the body could retrieve the head if not nailed down. I've never read that, but it seems to follow.
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Old 01-18-2013, 08:58 PM   #20
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Well, if she's desperate enough to do something really stupid, she could grab ammonia and bleach from under the sink and douse the guy. You'll end up creating Hydrochloric acid on the surface of his skin (highly corrosive), but it will also make a highly toxic gas, so she'd have to get out of the room really fast and hold her breath.

Another consideration is that anything aerosol - cooking spray included - can be used to make a fire sprayer if she holds a lighter in the stream. Just make sure she lets go of the lighter before she lets go of the sprayer.

If you're going old school, then consider the toxicity of silver to vampires. Heirloom dinnerware, maybe granny's silver serving set, will have pure silver knives in them.

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That is semicorrect. The stake has a both literal and symbolic function. Since vampires are magic, the symbolic is just as important, as magic is all about symbolism.

The preferred method of actually killing the vampire is decapitation. apparently both are necessary. Perhaps the body could retrieve the head if not nailed down. I've never read that, but it seems to follow.
It's not actually. Vampires as "magic" isn't part of the older lore at all. Vampires were bodies without spirits (which is why they cast no reflection). In other cultures, they're other things/

The decapitation part came along somewhere around the dark ages, as did the idea of the stake (read up on Dom. Augustin Calmet and his treatises involving the story of a supposed vampire who thanked him for the stake in the heart as it gave him something to beat the dogs off his grave with). In those instances, even decap. wasn't enough - you had to fill the mouth and neck with garlic and bury the body in a lead-lined coffin.
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Old 01-18-2013, 09:15 PM   #21
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By 'magic' I meant supernatural. Manipulating the supernatural is called 'magic,' and yes, it does involve symbolism. Vampires are repelled by crosses, which are symbols.

Frankly, the idea that there is some kind of authoritative canon for this sort of thing is a bit silly. An author can pick or choose which legends or popular beliefs he or she wishes, or make them up. I was merely remarking on the universality of belief in the use of symbols to perform magic.
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Old 01-18-2013, 09:55 PM   #22
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If you're going old school, then consider the toxicity of silver to vampires. Heirloom dinnerware, maybe granny's silver serving set, will have pure silver knives in them.
Sorry for going OT - do you have any sources for silver against vampires pre 20th C? First I heard of it was Blade, which obviously isn't a "traditional" vampire story.

I grew up with silver being just for werewolves, but now it seems to be for vampires too, and I'm curious if it has any basis in the traditional European myths.
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Old 01-18-2013, 10:02 PM   #23
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Silver was considered a blood cleansing agent. Any "evil" said to be tied to or carried in the blood was thought to be cured, killed or repelled by silver. It's also tied to Romanian legends/beliefs in the mystical power of "pure" metals and has been a part of the lore from eastern Europe for centuries.

ETA -- I may be wrong about this one, but IIRC, the caveat about the cross hurting a vampire was that it had to be one made of pure silver. Over time, that part of the myth eroded. (i.e. -- it was the cross that repelled the vampire, but the silver that burned it.)
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Old 01-18-2013, 10:33 PM   #24
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Thanks Cyia.

Crosses as vampire-repellant largely grew from Christian rebuttals of the legends, and silver sounds pre-Christian - it's possible that they converged before diverging again?
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Old 01-18-2013, 11:06 PM   #25
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*opens notepad, picks a pen. 'Silver is good also against vampires'. Puts away the pad and the pen. Goes back to WIP.*

ETA: *Opens notepad and picks the same pen. 'This needs further testing.' Puts away the pad and the pen. Goes back to the WIP with a sigh.*

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