View Full Version : Something flammable a hospital patient would have access to?

02-23-2018, 08:25 AM
It's been a while since I've actually been in a hospital patient room. I have a character who is going to burn his tattoo off using a lighter after he's been admitted. It's quite large and on multiple parts of the body. The lighter won't last long enough to complete the job, so I was looking for something to amplify it.

If it helps, the character is also a former thief, so you can be a bit creative in your suggestions if he needs to be sneaky about getting it.

Also, the story is set in 1980s France, if that makes a difference.

Thanks for any suggestions.

02-23-2018, 08:40 AM
Every room has oxygen.

Anna Iguana
02-23-2018, 08:45 AM
Rubbing alcohol, alcohol-based hand sanitizers like Purell...

02-23-2018, 09:36 AM
Every room has oxygen.

O2 is not flammable, it only creates part of a triad: fuel, oxygen and an ignition source.

I suggest acetone. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acetone) We use it as a solvent in the hospital to dissolve tape adhesive.

02-23-2018, 05:20 PM
The OP said he wanted something to be used as an amplifier, though, which concentrated oxygen can be.

02-23-2018, 08:50 PM
The OP said he wanted something to be used as an amplifier, though, which concentrated oxygen can be.

Oh. :D

02-23-2018, 10:50 PM
If it's set in the 1980s, the whole entire room is probably flammable and your character would need to be careful not to burn the whole building down. Bed sheets and all sorts will burn and fire retardant fabrics weren't really a thing until the 90s or thereabouts.

I'm not entirely sure what your character is trying to do, so I've suggested a couple of things in case they help:

If you want something to put on the skin that's flammable: Vaseline (petroleum jelly) or other similar oil-based skin product. Some of these oils are extremely flammable and there has recently been alerts put out about various emollient creams for eczema or similar because they contain flammable oils. It would cause severe burns but probably would get rid of the tattoo.

If you want something that he can hold while it burns, but will burn longer than a cigarette lighter, cotton would do. Maybe bedsheets or another sturdy cotton or mostly cotton fabric. you can dip a small part in the lighter fluid so it'll catch alight more easily. (while being careful not to have lighter fluid on his hands when he lights the lighter.) Things like paper and artificial fibres like nylon would burn too quickly.

Bear in mind that if he's giving himself extensive burns over his body, that can have serious medical complications (beyond the obvious ones such as extreme pain and scarring). What percentage of his body is covered in the tattoo? Look up the medical implications of burns to that percentage of the body.

02-23-2018, 11:49 PM
yep...oxygen. There's a reason why smoking is prohibited in home where o2 is set up, and yet people still come in with nasty burns because they didn't shut off their o2 before lighting up a cigarette. Yes...many people on oxygen still smoke....I see it in home care all the time.

02-24-2018, 12:55 AM
1980's France?
I don't remember when the big crackdown on smoking started in Canada, so what are the chances that, in France, he has a package of smokes (why he has a lighter) and gives himself cigarette burns at least over some of the tattoos? And, is it a metal lighter or a cheapo plastic disposable? Because if it's plastic, even if there's plenty of fuel left, if it's 'on' for too long, the plastic will warm and soften and the metal striker top will will 'pop' off- my dad used to use a lighter to seal the ends of nylon ropes.

Ooh, if smoking is allowed, there will probably be a smoke-shop, which would carry lighter-fluid!

02-24-2018, 01:19 AM
When I was in England in 1987, it seemed like a smoking free-for-all -- wherever, whenever. Ten years later it had changed quite a bit.

02-24-2018, 06:34 AM
Smoking is not allowed in hospitals by that time in France, but he gets the lighter (and cigarettes) from another character that visits him just before he burns himself. The type of lighter isn't specified, so it can be either.

02-24-2018, 08:30 AM
The OP said he wanted something to be used as an amplifier, though, which concentrated oxygen can be.

Not every hospital room has "concentrated" oxygen. In fact, most do not. But nearly everything made of cloth is flammable. And there will be plastics, in the forms of tubing, etc. A potentially bigger problem will be source of ignition.


P.K. Torrens
02-26-2018, 12:30 AM
Wha? Most hospital rooms/wards do have oxygen nowadays. I canít think of a hospital Iíve ever worked in that didnít.

Back in the 80ís, youíre probably looking at a lot more gas bottles/portable oxygen, as the piping and infrastructure wasnít the same.