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Firewalking How To and Why It Works Will Power

Updated on April 4, 2012
(India) Sri Lankan Firewalker.
(India) Sri Lankan Firewalker.

Firewalking Skeptic Magazine


Story By: Cow Flipper

On Fire Walking:

Firewalking has been practiced as a religious right of passage for thousands of years over many different cultures from India's since 1200 BC to the Native Americans of North America. You may think that walking across some hot coals without shoes would be easy but the truth is your mind will be telling you as you near the heat that you are about to get seriously hurt. Overpowering this primitive flight response and taking on the challenge to do it shows your ability to conquer fear and do what it takes to survive. This facing of a natural fear is played out in many cultures. In India it is a mystical religious art of magic It is empowering and shows ones faithful devotion to their religion.

Firewalking Today:

Modern day culture uses the act of firewalking as a confidence builder. Many NLP experts and life coaches use firewalking to build up their clients self esteem. They instill in their clients a sense that they can do anything by changing the way they think and taking the first steps by just going for it and conquering unfounded fears of the unknown. They tell the people that their mind allows the soles of their feet to redistribute the heat of the embers around their entire body, that it is a physiological biological action through mental control that allows them to walk across a 1200 degree bed of glowing coals. But the truth is that it is not super natural by any means.

How It Is Done:

Fire-walkers walk across hot coals heated to a thousand degrees or more with their bare feet. These coals are prepared and laid out in a narrow pathway for the fire walkers to walk through. You would think that the soles of their feet would get burned as they traverse the short path of eight to ten feet in length. But they are somehow able to make the span unharmed and with little discomfort.

Why Don't They Burn? The Physics Behind Firewalking:

The reason they are not burned is a question of physics. The soles of our feet though covered in skin do not conduct heat very well. They insulate our feet and if they do not touch heat but for a second will not be burned. Moving quickly through with liter steps will allow the foot to remain unharmed. Even the coals themselves will insulate the heat away from the sole of the foot. So it is much safer than one would believe.

Is It Still A Useful Motivational Tool?

Yes it is. Even if the person walking across the hot coals knows that science says that their odds of getting seriously burned are low there is still the fear something will go wrong. Knowing that in and of itself means you can over come your fears. Having faith in yourself to accomplish things you are afraid of allows you to move forward in life and not be stunted by irrational thinking.

Risks Involved:

  • People do get burned when firewalking. If they do not move fast enough it allows the thermal conductivity in the coals to burn the soles of their feet.
  • If you run through the coals this will make the coals turn up and run over the top of the foot burning the less dense flesh on top of the foot.
  • Watch out for foreign objects especially metal objects that conduct high heat easily.
  • Coals that have not burned over a long period of time since coals have water in them which increase heat and conductivity. It is best to wait until the coals are white and glowing red before you try a firewalk.
  • Wet feet can cause the coals to stick to the foot, a moist foot is fine a wet foot is dangerous.


None of what I have talked about here is in no way suggesting that you should do this. It is a dangerous activity and should never be tried or done without proper medical and emergency staff on hand. Never try this on your own or at home.


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    • Faceless39 profile image

      Faceless39 6 years ago from The North Woods, USA

      Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting. Love, love, love this hub! It's interesting to note that different cultures use different lengths and widths of fire pits. You're very welcome to read my poem, Firewalk, here:

    • klurbauer profile image

      klurbauer 6 years ago from Brink of Insanity ;)

      I just stumbled on this article while I was browsing around, but I'm glad I did. I can honestly say it's one of the most interesting articles I've read in a while. I kind of like reading articles on more unusual topics and this definitely fit the bill.