I am never happier than when I have time to explore my favorite passions of wood carving, whittling, wood turning and wood burning. That’s because I love searching for ideas and technologies to share with friends here. However I felt a jolt like electricity traveling up my spine when I stumbled over a report detailing just how dangerous fractal wood burning really is. Did you know there have been a number of fractal wood burning deaths?
Are Lichtenburg and Fractal Wood Burning the Same Thing?
Yes they are. German physicist Georg Christoph Lichtenberg was working with primitive electrical devices in the year 1777 when he discovered patterns of electrical discharge. He learned to sprinkle powdered materials over them, so he could etch the pattern onto a sheet of paper. If you played with a magnet and iron filings at school then you know what I mean.
Birth of Pyrography: Mother of Lichtenberg Wood Burning
The general idea of burning impressions into wood is actually nothing new. In fact, there is evidence Ancient Egyptians and some African tribes practiced the technique early in known human history. Hot pokers, even sunlight through a magnifying glass can create images in woods such as sycamore, bass, beech and birch.
However Amateur Lichtenberg Fractal Burning is Dangerous
The report into the dangers of fractal wood burning we mentioned earlier, appeared in the Journal of Burn Care and Research on March 30, 2020. The authors described injuries suffered by an amateur after they trialed lichtenburg wood burning using a discarded microwave cooker.
However, low voltage fractal wood burning with a car battery may be safer. Consider this aspect carefully when you consider a Lichtenburg wood burning machine for sale on ETSY.
However, the unfortunate person in the medical report suffered a 2,000 volt shock from their ‘lichtenburg machine’. This delivered ‘full-thickness electrical burns to their neck, chest, and bilateral upper extremities’, as it followed lines of least resistance internally. Multiple surgeries followed to restore their appearance to a semblance of normality.
But They Were Not the Only Victim of Electric Wood Burning
The researchers who prepared the report in Journal of Burn Care and Research, decided to find out whether this was an isolated incident. To their horror they discovered another 21 incidents simply by scrolling through news reports.
- There were 17 deaths (80.1%) and four serious injuries (19.9%).
- The incidents occurred over three years (July 2016 to July 2019).
- The victim’s ages ranged from 17 upwards. Most were males under 50.
Three of the survivors had significant upper extremity injuries leaving them scarred for life. Two of them suffered cardiac arrest resulting in permanent damage to their hearts.
The researchers ended their report by observing fractal wood burning is associated with devastating high-voltage electrical injuries and death. Prevention efforts should be focused on the potential risks of this art form,’ they recommended strongly.
That’s why I posted this article to alert you to the possibility of high voltage fractal wood burning deaths. I dedicate the rest of this post to exploring one of my favorite hobbies, safe wood burning art AKA pyrography which I encourage you to try.
Are Lichtenberg Machines Legal in U.S. UK and Canada?
Government regulations generally control electrical networks in buildings wired directly to mains supply. Hence plug-in devices generally fall outside these rules, although there are consumer standards. However, the internet exists outside of this network, and you have to rely on the reputation of supplier and brand.
- The American Association of Woodturners banned fractal burning on its website after hearing of several fractal wood burning deaths.
- The Association of Woodturners of Great Britain decided not to promote the practice because there are no safety standards.
- Electrical Associations in Canada are following Ontario’s warning it is extremely dangerous to use high voltage lichtenburg generators.
How Do You Burn Lichtenburg Wood Safely?
The problem lies with the high voltage of some equipment. However, a fractal wood transformer might make lichtenburg wood burning safer, without the risk of a fractal wood burning death. That way you could be able to produce stunning fractal wood burns so gorgeous your friends queue up to find how you did it.
Would you like to give safer fractal wood burning a try? If so we recommend the following tools and materials as a starting point:
- Electric or MIG Welding gloves, electrical insulated rubber safety footwear , an electrical welder face mask with balaclava or hood and a leather welding apron
- A commercial lichtenburg wood burner with safety certificate. You may have to hunt around to find one of these.
- Two table spoons of baking soda mixed in one gallon water
Do not attempt to modify or adapt the word burner. Arrange your work with the probes safely in their stands, and the foot controller on the floor below. Spread the liquid solution across the wood lightly with a paint brush.
Experiment with the electrical probes until you have the desired effect. Unplug the electrical burner before you remove your welding gloves, insulated rubber shoes and face mask.
Wood Burning Art Versus Fractal Wood Burning
Fractal wood burning is random, aggressive, and can be downright dangerous in terms of the evidence we found. Wood burning art AKA true pyrography appeals to our creative instincts instead. It is safe fun provided you take sensible precautions. Here’s a quick video to explain what happens when you heat wood.
We have loads of examples and guides showing how you could start doing wood burning art safely and quickly. Catch up on neat ideas for Christmas gifts here. Follow your heart with crazy animal ideas while having fun. And when you are really flying after leaving fractal wood burning behind, how about something as ambitious as this following the wood grain.
Wooden Schooner Flying in the Power of Imagination