For the ultimate daredevils looking for their next exciting stunt: Pay attention. Fire-walking is the act of walking barefoot over a hot bed of embers or stones. It sounds impossible, but the practice has existed for several thousands of years.
Many culture practice the art of fire-walking for healing, initiation and faith. It is a test of endurance and faith. You have different parts of the world that participate in this ritual, such as the Eastern Orthodox Christians in Greece, the tribal Bushmen in Africa, Japanese Taoists and Buddhists, Polynesian tribes and Hindu Indians in South Asia.
In America, it was commercially introduced in the 1970s when author Tolly Burkan sparked interest in the study of fire-walking. Courses and classes were offered to those willing to learn. It is not so much used in a religious ceremony, but instead as an alternative health remedy.
But how do we not burn our feet on the hot coal?
When two different temperatures meet, the hotter matter will cool off and the cooler matter will heat up. This will happen until they reach a mutual temperature. Fire-walking is possible because of physics:
The foots temperature tends to change less than the coal because coal has a low specific heat capacity. The blood in the foot will carry the heat and spread it to the rest of the body. Since you are walking fast, no new heat is generated when the coal cools down when it hits your foot. Confused? Just watch.
In the Hindu tradition, Singapore holds the annual fire-walking ceremony a week before Deepavali- the Festival of Lights.
Fire-walking was even on Season 3 of The Office in the Beach games episode where the final stunt was to walk across coals. Dwight did something you shouldn't do at home. (Pam actually did it, but unfortunately, there is no video of it.)
If you are going to try this, make sure you know what you are getting yourself into. Don't do this alone and have people around you in case you get hurt. Try not to run since running pushes your foot deeper into the coal, resulting in the risk of burning.
Would you practice the art of fire-walking? Why/Why not?