How to Use Flash Paper For Magic Tricks

how to use flash paper

Flash paper is one of the easiest ways to enhance magic tricks. Like a real-life Harry Potter, you can make things appear and disappear inside a flash of flames at your fingertips. From adding an amazing burst of excitement to a new magic trick you learned to helping make the the best fire magic tricks, flash paper is one of the most versatile magic accessories a magician can own.

Yet, since it’s also extremely flammable, flash paper is dangerous if not used correctly. So, here’s how to use flash paper.

Know What You’re Using

Flash paper is actually just one of many different types of flash products available to magicians at magic shops. It comes in a variety of different sizes, shapes and colors, and there is a difference between flash paper and flash cotton, and everything in between. There are even flash gum wrappers and flash bills available.

So, what is flash paper?

Flash paper is a highly-flammable form of a chemical called Nitrocellulose. When exposed to a significant heat source, like the flame of a lighter or match, flash paper will combust into a brilliant flame. Flash purper burns instantly and leaves behind no smoke or ash.

If the big scientific words above didn’t make it obvious, we want to emphasize that you should never attempt to make flash paper. People have actually died using flash paper like this. You should only ever buy flash paper, flash cotton and other flash products from reputable magic shops where professional magicians learn their tricks, like the Vanishing Inc. magic store.

Before you head online and start searching “magic trick store near me” or “where can I buy magic tricks”, it’s important to remember that flash paper should ONLY be used by adults, or under the direct supervision of adults, who have taken the time to learn how to use flash paper safely. This includes properly storing flash paper when it’s not in use.

How to Safely Light Flash Paper

lighting flash paper gif Since it arrives wet to prevent accidental combustion, flash paper must be dried out prior to performing with it. When storing flash paper, leave it wet and in a dark cool area away from any heat sources like a radiator, oven or direct sunlight. You can then start drying it out approximately 24 hours before using it. Leaving it dry for any longer is dangerous and increases the chances of the flash paper igniting unexpectedly.

When you first start using flash paper, it is suggested to only use it outside away from any flammable objects. Hold the flash paper with tongs well away from your body. Light a long match or grill lighter and bring it close to the flash paper. You’ll see that the flash paper ignites immediately. Pay attention to how quickly it burns. Do this many times before attempting to use flash paper in a magic trick or hold it in your hands while performing.

Attempting to light flash paper in your hands before you are comfortable with it could lead to a dangerous gut reaction. It’s natural to get scared when you see a flame and instinctively want to throw the lit piece in the air. This is one of the most dangerous ways to use flash paper.

Instead, you want to have a loose grip on the flash paper. You then simply release this grip as the flame approaches your fingers. This controlled release enables you to safely use flash paper without causing any danger to those around you. Just like when you learn magic tricks, using flash paper requires practice.

Unique Way to Use Flash Paper

Once you are comfortable with lighting flash paper, there are a lot of creative ways to use flash paper. You don’t always need to ignite flash paper with a lighter. Some magicians prefer to dip the end into the flame of a candle, use the tip of a cigarette or even create a magical spark with a hidden hand flasher or finger flasher.

All of these methods require ample practice to see how the flash paper ignites. It is not suggested to use them in performance until you fully understand how they work. When you perform for an audience, please make sure they are a safe distance away.

While there are safe ways to use flash paper, please remember that there is no foolproof way to prevent accidents from happening. You should always be prepared with a fire extinguisher in close proximity.

where to buy flash paper

Adding Flash Paper to Magic Tricks and Magic Props

From close-up magic to parlor and stage magic, There are so many great flash paper tricks. Some of the obvious ones are the classic coin magic trick where you produce a coin at your fingertips or adding some flare to your appearing cane routine. However, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Some magicians prefer to disguise the flash paper, flash cotton or other flash products as another object. They then integrate it into other magic props. For example, rolling the flash paper into what looks like the wick of a candle or using colored flash string that looks like a strand of hair they pretend was plucked from someone’s head.

As flash paper is designed to look like paper, that also means it can be written on or drawn on. You can draw a picture of a small object and then make it appear out of thin air, you can pretend it's the wrapper on a piece of gum, you can write an IOU message for $100 and then instantly transform it into a $100 bill and so much more. There are so many uses for flash paper.

It’s important to emphasize how we said “drawing” NOT “printing” above. If someone ever asks if you can print on flash paper, the answer is a resounding “NO”. Printers can get hot, and heat makes flash paper ignite. So, we remind you to NEVER print on Flash Paper.