In the autumn of 1935 Harry Price organised the most high powered investigation of firewalking ever made. Kashmiri Kuda Bux, wearing a black frock coat and trousers, walked steadily and deliberately over the 11 foot length of a charcoal and log pit heated beyond the melting point of steel. There were no signs of blistering on the soles of his feet.
Price concluded that the secret of fire walking involved three factors: the short contact time of each foot on the glowing embers (with a limit of two steps per foot); the low thermal conductivity of burning or burned wood embers; and confidence and steadiness in walking.
Various other experiments have also been recorded. Jearl Walker, professor of physics at Cleveland State University was particularly intrigued by the research of Johann Gottlieb Leidenfrost, an 18th century German doctor who observed that if water was dropped onto a very hot surface, the drops danced about for a longer period than if the surface was cooler.
Jearl Walker lying beneath a bed of nails
He concluded that this “Leidenfrost effect” must be the secret of fire walking—that at a high temperature perspiration on the fire walker’s feet forms a protective layer long enough to prevent injury. Walker was courageous enough to put his theories to a personal test. He constructed a five-foot bed of hot coals in his back garden. He stated, “I suddenly found it remarkably easy to believe in physics when it is on paper, but remarkably hard to believe in it when the safety of one’s own feet is at stake. As a matter of fact, walking on hot coals would be such a supreme test of one’s true belief in what one had learned that I have suggested that graduate schools might substitute it for the PhD examination in physics. On one side of the pit of red-hot coals would be a line of fresh PhD candidates. On the other would be the physics professor with a handful of certificates. If a graduate student really believed in physics, he would stride across the coals without hesitation.”
In 1982 a team of doctors and students from the medical faculty at Colombo University, Sri Lanka, took part in an extraordinary event designed to highlight the superiority of medical science to magic and superstition. Vasectomies were on offer on the spot, there were educational stalls for family planning and medical treatment for snake-bite and venereal disease, and doctors staging demonstrations of fire walking. They deliberately flouted religious taboos as the doctors ate pork and imbibed alcohol while walking on red-hot coals without harm. The intention was to show that such fire immunity is a scientific phenomenon and not related to spiritual faith.
***This is not the first time we’ve tackled firewalking at the Gimcrack. you can reread the previous post here
I don’t think these shoes would offer much protection