'Hot Spot' - Hot tin foil effect

Discuss your favorite close-up tricks and methods.

Postby Guest » 11/29/02 12:34 PM

Another question (inspired by the forum discussion on the relative safety issues of different smoke machines)...

A while ago (15 or more years?), I purchased an effect from Cliff Lount's Magic Studio (based in Bradford, UK) called 'Hot Spot' .

I imagine that the effect is reasonably well known - i.e. (stripped down to the bare-bones) - you take a piece of silver foil and tear it into several pieces - each piece is rolled into a ball - and given to a different spectator. The nominated spectator finds that their piece of foil is becoming hot (it really does get hot).

Now, about 7 years ago, I found the bottle containing the material for this effect - but only found a residue in the bottle. I added water, and hey presto (!) - I had a fresh mix of material for lots of repeat performances.

Anyway - fast forward to about 2 years ago and the Blackpool Convention. When I mentioned the effect to Cliff Lount who was there, he was *extremely* dismissive of the effect and said that he would no longer consider marketing it - and that I should have ensured that I'd washed my hands thoroughly after each performance. (As a teenager back when I got the effect, I can't say that I always did this immediately).

So - can someone tell me:

(A) What the dangers were with this material (or even what the material was - if the effect is no longer being marketed - then I guess 'tipping' won't affect things)
(B) If there are other approaches to this effect (other than the 'Bluff and Guff' / 'Hot Coin' -style approach) that are safer? I liked this effect - since it seemed so impromptu - i.e. I just needed someone to be eating a foil-covered chocolate item (e.g. Kit-Kat) and with my hands apparently empty - I was set to go.
(C) When are my fingers going to drop off?
(D) Does anyone want to buy several guitars, card-indexes - and pairs of gloves (in the event of 'C')



Postby Guest » 11/29/02 01:41 PM

The danger, I believe, was that small amounts of the chemical could be inadvertantly touched to the mouth or eye producing cumulative mercury poisoning.

Postby Mike Powers » 11/29/02 05:11 PM

I believe that this item was taken off the market after a child died having ingested the chemical. It is a mercury compound and Whit is correct that the cumulative effect of small ingested amounts is very dangerous.

Mike Powers
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Postby cataquet » 11/30/02 05:24 AM

This effect is dangerous as when you touch the chemical, you are absorbing small amounts of mercury, so with excessive use (unquantifiable), you are slowing poisioning yourself.

There are various versions of the effect. In one case, the chemical is applied to the foil using a pen. So, I would take out a pen and write "hot" on the foil. Using this applicator, no one comes in direct contact with the chemicals. However, the mercury will tend to crystalise, so the pen will either stop working or not apply any of the mercury to the foil. Worse yet, if the pen ran in your pocket, you'd be covered in a potentially hazardous ink.

So, unless you're a chemist and familiar with handling hazardous substances, stop now.

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Postby Guest » 12/02/02 09:02 PM

Whoa! Thanks guys! (I think). Now, my paranoia will really kick in. I used to carry a small pill-box with cotton-wool soaked inside - and would think nothing of soaking my finger to get a big ball 'really' hot. What should I do now? Swallow some sulphur tablets? (only joking).

I just wonder when the next effect is going to be taken off the market for being dangerous after years of use.

I think "Passer's Cramp" will be the next document ailment.

Thanks again guys - you've made my night!

Postby Ruben Padilla » 12/04/02 07:02 PM

Years ago this effect was marketed as "Hypno-Heat" and I purchased over a dozen envelopes of the stuff (with the foresight that I might not be able to get it later). I have enough little tabs to last a lifetime. I've performed it many times and always made sure to wash my hands following my set. So far I've had no problems and I expect thatkdkl kl;el kdl;l93kl kl; iiooew lala...

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Postby ADG » 12/04/02 08:03 PM

Greetings DK......as well as performing magic for several years now, I'm also a pharmacist. The trick is safe as long as you wash your hands or carry along a packet of Handi-Wipes. Occasional performance of the trick is okay as long as you don't do it 24/7; and even at that, there is more mercury in applying merthiolate or mercurochrome to small cuts or abrasions than there is in the white powder. The danger involves the ingestion and not the topical use. Also, very little of it is absorbed thru the fingertips since it has more callous tissue than other parts of the body; especially if you're a guitar player. Therefore, you're more apt to die from a lightning strike than from kidney failure for performing the trick. Anyways, leave me the guitars since I'm also a fingerstyle blues/jazz guitar picker.
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