1. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X9FjI2rGL_c

    Metabunk 2018-12-04 10-54-12.

    Starlite is one of those things that keeps coming up, and the story is repeated almost without question. An inventor, Maurice Ward, developed what he called a "plastic" that was flame resistant. He usually demonstrated this with a blowtorch, sometimes on an egg.

    The material appears to be a white paste that sets. When a flame is applied it chars and expands a bit.

    Here's a video describing the story:

    Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y7yVqY-z3fY

    The results of the egg test are at 1:12

    People have tried to replicate it, one Keith Lewis said he made some with "things you find in your own home"

    Source: https://youtu.be/c4VeYq-IOUo?t=37


    He strongly suggests it involved PVA glue. Luckily I had a bottle full of PVA glue from an old book-binding experiment.

    I was thinking about the simplest version you could make, and I decided that PVA glue plus baking soda would give a nice white paste. So I mixed up some of that. While doing that I found it's the ingredients of "slime", a DIY kids fun substance.

    PVA Glue is a mixture of PVA and a solvent. When the glue dries it just leaves PVA.
    Mixing it with baking soda (sodium bicarbonate, NaHCO3 ) creates a spreadable paste. Both substances are white. Baking soda by itself is quite heat resistant.

    I also tried it with aluminum oxide. This is grey, and more inert than baking soda.

    Here's my current batches. Still wet from the glue, so I will wait until they dry. You can see I gave them a go, but it seems like the solvent in the glue is buring off in the flame, so I need to wait until that evaporates.
    Metabunk 2018-12-04 11-25-17.

    Results to come....
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2018
  2. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

  3. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Some other similar coatings:

    Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JCoZEQsjNr4

    Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K7RDRjrfCII

    So the question becomes what does Starlite claim to be beyond an egg fireproofer. Well, Ward made some pretty extreme claims in interviews later in life.

    Extraordinary claims presented without evidence can similarly be dismissed. Where is this public raving of NASA? Who is Rudi Narangor? If you search for NASA + Narangor all you get is Starlite stories. Narangor does not seem to exist.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  4. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Besides ridiculous things like "75 Hiroshimas," there's a rather more banal claim in there:

    UL94-V0 is a test for flammability of plastics, the VO requirement is laughably simple:
    Video of the Boeing test exists:

    Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wxY8IXccik4
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2018
  5. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Seems like the Telegraph reporter was using a phonetic spelling, the NASA person was Rosendo "Rudy" Naranjo, who worked at NASA until 2001 and passed away in 2011.

    A supposed NASA memo mentioned him, and details some of the tests:
    Metabunk 2018-12-07 06-00-16.

    Nd:YAG lasers operate in very short pulses, so it's not really clear how much energy that actually is. 3750 W/cm2 for six minutes is pretty significant. But since all we have is Ward's recollection (or rather his claim), then it's not of much use.

    I'm going to let my coated egg cure overnight, and then try to duplicate the egg test. That's the demonstration that most people focus on, and I think it's really just a parlor trick.
    Metabunk 2018-12-04 15-35-18.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Dec 7, 2018
    • Like Like x 1
  6. Trailblazer

    Trailblazer Moderator Staff Member

    The "NASA memo" looks like a pretty poor fake to me: it looks as if someone has just used a basic MS Word template and pasted in a NASA logo. It's not even the correct logo: the font for the "NASA" letters is wrong, as is the orientation of the "orbit" in the logo, and the pattern of stars - they seem to have just used an amateur clipart version off the internet:


    Last edited: Dec 5, 2018
    • Useful Useful x 1
  7. Trailblazer

    Trailblazer Moderator Staff Member

    There are plenty of official NASA memos of various eras available online. It seems pretty clear the Starlite one is a fake - the layout and formatting are all wrong, even without the "smoking gun" incorrect logo.



  8. deirdre

    deirdre Moderator Staff Member

    even on that starlitetechnologies(.com) "History" page, the logo is different. (although the header is crooked and doesn't line up with left hand margin.. not sure how that would happen in a fax or printer)

    that page does also links to the Dateline episode with "Rudy" Naranjo. timestamp 4:08. Although Naranjo doesn't say anything like
    , unless i missed it. but i skimmed through the piece 3 times.

    (add: forgot the transcript sorry: it's very hard to hear, had to hook it up to my TV. sounds like he says "well the interest is because it does so many things and it is only one material" and a few seconds later "any place there's heat it will hav applications. any place where it's radiation [unintelligible] it has applications")

    Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=350&v=k6pzloHjnWc

    Chris Bennet in the about section of that video is claiming NASA stole Starlites formula.
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2018
  9. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Cooking breakfast.
    Metabunk 2018-12-05 09-57-47.

    Or rather, NOT cooking breakfast. That's six minutes of direct flame.
    Metabunk 2018-12-05 09-58-51.
    • Like Like x 1
  10. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    That was a mixture of PVA glue and Baking soda. It was also six minutes vs the BBC's three minutes, and I had the torch quite a bit closer.

    Metabunk 2018-12-05 10-43-29.

    Of course, my coating also looks a bit thicker.

    But I'd like to replicate it a bit better, so I'm going to try again, this time replicating the BBC distance (about 3 inches) and trying to replicate the intumescent properties.

    I'm thinking what we need is more carbon, so I'm going to use some icing sugar (very finely powdered sugar). Sugar carbonizes and should also create the gas needed to puff up the material.
  11. deirdre

    deirdre Moderator Staff Member

    in the Dateline video Wayne Maurice mentions flour, although im not sure if he was kidding.

    also.. the torch doesnt heat up the surrounding air? i was surprised your egg didnt cook a little at least since you had no protection on the back of the egg.
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2018
  12. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    I think this all popped up on my radar again because of the BBC Reel documentary, which was only just released. This segment gives a good explanation of how it works.

    Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3EjbxTCJGJ0

    It also shows some tests on samples provided by Ward's daughter, which seem to show more intumesence than the egg test.
    Metabunk 2018-12-05 10-59-32.

    But seems rather similar to the KingKote799 coating
    Metabunk 2018-12-05 11-00-54. 6
  13. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    It did cook a little, but only on the side that was "protected."
    Metabunk 2018-12-05 11-34-42.

    That's down to the things I mentioned above. The failure of the material to swell up (hence the decision fo more baking ingredients), the closeness of the torch, and the duration of the test (six minutes vs. three minutes).

    Another variable might the TYPE of torch. I'm using a very standard propane torch head, Bernzomatic UL2317 running on propane. Described as a 1/2-inch wide pencil flame.
    Metabunk 2018-12-05 11-52-15.

    The BBC torches seem to have larger nozzles.
    Metabunk 2018-12-05 11-38-18.
    Metabunk 2018-12-05 11-40-27.

    I'm not sure that this means in terms of the amount of heat supplied. The BBC torch is like this, a Taymar LG 870 Butane Blowlamp.

    Metabunk 2018-12-05 11-50-14.
    Which is butane, not propane. The BBC presenter says it's 1200°C.

    Just doing a search for temperatures, the internet says:

    Butane torch: 1,430°C
    Propane torch: 1,995°C

    Well, heck. No wonder my egg cooked a little. Hotter torch, much closer, twice as long.
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2018
    • Informative Informative x 1
  14. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Ha, the KK799 demo used butane too!
    Metabunk 2018-12-05 12-06-19.

    Intumescent paint guy did use a propane torch.
    Metabunk 2018-12-05 12-11-21.
  15. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

  16. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    This guy using his own composition "Aeromax Starlite" used a Butane/Propane torch
    Metabunk 2018-12-05 12-25-25.

    He also has a supposed thermocouple set up, which registers an initial peak of 1997°C, then decreases to 1665°C as the thermocouple gets hotter
    Metabunk 2018-12-05 12-30-25.

    Then goes back up to 1943°C after it has cooled down
    Metabunk 2018-12-05 12-31-29.

    So obviously those numbers are not the actual temperature. The thermometer is a Vichy DM6802A+, set to T1-T2 mode. There's a thermocouple plugged into T2. So it kind of looks like he set T1 to some high number. Maybe he just did not understand how it worked.

    You can't actually use a simple thermocouple to measure flame temperature like that. All you measure is how hot the flame makes the thermocouple, which is usually a lot less than the flame temperature.
  17. deirdre

    deirdre Moderator Staff Member

    didnt watch any cooking videos.. but can you tell if Maurice's egg cooked a little too? i see he cracked it and the yolk fell out, but so did yours.
  18. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Yeah, that's part of the showmanship aspect. I could quite easily post a video and get people convinced I'd reinvented Starlite.

    With the amount of moving around he did and the lower temperature, I think his egg probably did not cook much. I'm going to try again tomorrow with my 1/3 sugar composition and a torch setup closer to the BBC.
  19. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    I might be barking up the wrong tree with letting the glue dry on the egg. In this video

    Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3zcFPPvZETs

    Ward has a jar of spreadable paste which he applies to some honeycomb card, and to an egg.
    Metabunk 2018-12-05 14-18-02.

    It looks a bit like plasticine.
    Metabunk 2018-12-05 14-19-34.
  20. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    It also very closely resembles this:
    Metabunk 2018-12-05 14-44-19.

    That's baking soda clay. 2 parts baking soda, 1 part cornstarch, 1 part water. Combine baking soda and cornstarch in a pan, add water then heat and stir until it looks like that. Then put it in a bowl, cover with a damp towel for 15 minutes, knead it a bit, and then put it in a sealed container.

    I feel fairly confident that this will work just as well as Starlite at protecting an egg under BBC conditions.
  21. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    I'm cooking up some miracles!
    Metabunk 2018-12-05 17-35-41.

    My secret ingredient:
    Metabunk 2018-12-05 17-36-11.

    Burn tests tomorrow. I'm letting some dry.
  22. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Just doing some tests on the effects of flame distance on a butane flame (micro-torch, pencil shaped). Remember the temperature of a butane torch flame is 1,430°C

    At the base of the flame, 622°C
    Metabunk 2018-12-06 09-29-24.

    0.25" 725°C
    Metabunk 2018-12-06 09-30-50.

    0.5" 805°C
    Metabunk 2018-12-06 09-32-02.

    1.0" 976°C
    Metabunk 2018-12-06 09-32-48.

    1.5" 984°C
    Metabunk 2018-12-06 09-33-59.

    2" 874°C
    Metabunk 2018-12-06 09-35-01.

    At this distance the "hot spot" on the flame started to rise quite a bit, meaning some adjustments.

    2.5" 717°C
    Metabunk 2018-12-06 09-36-37.

    3" 691°C
    Metabunk 2018-12-06 09-37-39.

    Between 3" and 4" there was a rapid drop-off, and the upwards curve of the flame made consistent measurements difficult. But at 4" it did get to around 300°C. I was also able to hold my hand at the 5" mark where it was a bit painful, but not injurious.
    Metabunk 2018-12-06 09-38-40.

    Metabunk 2018-12-06 09-43-02.
  23. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Metabunk 2018-12-06 09-50-44.

    Hard to say how that translates to the BBC torch. It has a more diffuse flame, and of course, I'm measuring how hot my torch gets a cheap thermocouple, not how hot it gets an egg. The heat delivery is totally different.
  24. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    I wrapped the thermocouple in "Starlite" (Formulation: BSC+PJ.) After 1 minute it was at the boiling point of water.
    Metabunk 2018-12-06 10-04-35.

    However, I'm not convinced three minutes of this would cook an egg more than in one small spot. Also, this is obviously a terrible formulation.
  25. mmcwatters

    mmcwatters New Member

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  26. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    To get closer to the BBC experiment, I've bought a Blazer Big Shot butane torch, which has a flame about twice the size of the micro torch.
    Metabunk 2018-12-08 11-21-54.
    This is probably reasonably close to the BBC's Taymar torch in terms of power output. Looks like it's about 2.5" away from the egg, and the longer more powerful flame makes aiming it easier.
  27. Rory

    Rory Senior Member

    Wondered if you'd seen this comment on The Guardian website?
    One of those that's difficult to buy. But you never know...
  28. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Ha, a "party trick" with "some powder mixed with PVA glue"

    The egg thing is absolutely a party trick. Pretty much ANY white paste you apply to an egg will protect it from cooking for three minutes.

    Right now I have an egg coated in baking soda clay mixed with PVA glue. This will probably be the last test I do.
  29. Cedtomcat

    Cedtomcat New Member

    I think it would be interresting to also try it with an unprotected egg with the same parameters to see how much it cook.
  30. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    An unprotected egg will crack open in a few seconds.

    I wrapped an egg in three layers of aluminum foil to give a minimal amount of protection. It still cooked to 100°C in three minutes.
    Metabunk 2018-12-09 07-36-31.
  31. Cedtomcat

    Cedtomcat New Member

    Thanks, it was maybe obvious but I've never tried cooking an egg like that...
  32. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    This is what happens if you heat it directly (which I did just 20 minutes ago). About 5-10 seconds.
    Metabunk 2018-12-09 10-07-30.
  33. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    • Like Like x 1
    • Informative Informative x 1
  34. Miss VocalCord

    Miss VocalCord Active Member

  35. Rory

    Rory Senior Member

    Looking forward to seeing if your two-week-old samples fare better than Ward's. :)
  36. Mechanik

    Mechanik Member

    I came across this video today:

    The author, Nighthawkinlight, made his (if I recall correctly) with 10 parts corn starch, 1 part baking soda, and then enough PVA to make something that looks like Play-Doh or plasticine. He has some interesting comments about dry vs. wet, the insulating properties of carbon, and the use of sugar. Not a lot of details, but well done nonetheless.

    Most interesting is the showmanship, however. He literally formed it into a pancake, held it in his hand, and lit up the propane torch. He has another video where he melts 3 pennies on the pancake while holding it in his hand.
    • Like Like x 1
  37. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Yeah, I needed more corn starch to make more carbon.
  38. Leifer

    Leifer Senior Member

    Baking soda and baking powder is used in cooking to "leaven" the product before or during cooking. Meaning, it will add air bubbles to a raw cookie or cake mix, and "set", usually from the cooking (hardening) of the included beaten eggs.

    Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate, and will foam with a somewhat acidic catalyst (think of those school science-fair volcanoes).

    Baking powder is partly... baking soda, monocalcium phosphate, and sodium aluminum sulphate (plus a little corn starch). When mixed with water, it will become fizzy (activated).

    Cream of tartar is sodium bitartrate, and is used in stabalizing egg whites for merangue (yummy)....and a version is included in baking powder as the catalyst.

    The point is, all of these can become an airpocket-filled barrier, aka - used as an insulator if stabalized in their foam state..

    Aerogel is a type of industrial "foamed" open celled silica-type insulator, with remarkable properties...

    In the Hollywood special effects biz, we would add baking soda to Plaster of Paris, to make fragile "break-a-way" bricks or tiles, for stunt work or exploding miniatures .... they would break easily because the plaster would set, but was full of air bubble.
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2019
  39. Leifer

    Leifer Senior Member

    Interesting notes....
    PVA glue is supposedly a neutral PH adhesive (non acidic), so how would it create a bubble foam insulator if mixed with baking soda ? (Heating ? )

    Fire proof (intumescent) paint is mostly misunderstood. Such paint is not "fire proof", but "fire retardant", meaning it WILL char, but will self-extinguish itself within a few seconds or less, and not continue burning or smoldering.

    Sodium Silicate (or other salts) is added to the paint, or applied to or over flammable substrates, to retard flame.

    Often, we had to adhere to fire regulations, and our painted sets or Hollywood backdrops had to be fire retardant, applied by a certified applier. Fire Marshals would sometimes check by using a flame test (in a safe controlled manner)

    - were the Starlite tests done on corregated paper cardboard, or aerospace corregated epoxy panels ?
    (I have some epoxy samples, not easy to find...)
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2019
  40. Leifer

    Leifer Senior Member

    Fumed silica (aerosil, cab-o-sil), is usually a powder, and will not burn at reasonable temps.
    If I were to try to make a thin barrier and heat dispersive material, I'd use this to thicken it....its microns in particle size (5-50nm) and thermally dissapative.
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2019