10 March 2008

Watch This Space

The first question when assessing a story that one hears is, "Is it physically possible?"

You know what I mean--if a guy claims there were six guys inside an M-1 tank on patrol, you gotta figure the rest of his story is pretty sketchy.

So, in the interests of Science, I am going to fact-check the physical possibility of "Jen" and her MRE-heater cigarettes.

I am ashamed, as a Combat Engineer, to admit that I have never set an MRE heater or the crud inside them on fire. Never really had a good opportunity while I had the subject on my mind. Pyromania plays only a small part in my burning curiosity as to precisely how this works.

Tomorrow, I'll be at a range and MREs are on the menu for lunch. I should be able to snag a heater unused. I will stop by the "Smoke Shack" just outside East Gate and pick up rolling papers and low-grade tobacco. I figure that this will give me (a non-smoker) a far better chance to roll something that looks decent that my original plan, which was to buy a pack of cigarettes and slit them open with a razor blade.

Tomorrow, I'll do a test run or two and post preliminary results. However, Saturday my lovely Lady Wife will be present with a camera and stopwatch to run multiple iterations and post pictures and time-lines.

Does it burn?
Does it burn without spectacular pyrotechnics that could not be mistaken for normal cigarette burning?
Does it give off a smell that is noticeable?

I suspect (I remember you're supposed to have a hypothesis from all those stupid middle school science projects) that the answer is, respectively, yes, no, and yes. If that is so, we'll have to call this one "Busted". For it to be credible, it has to be yes, yes, and no.


Blogger Army Sergeant said...

I cannot believe you've never made MRE bombs.

Shame. Utter shame.

6:00 AM  
Blogger Just A Decurion said...

Every MRE bomb I made was made with water.

12:57 PM  
Anonymous Bill McD said...

I'm willing to bet your hypothesis will be shown to be correct. I can't think of any chemical heating system that doesn't have an odor if exposed to open air. If there were one that could be used, reliably, without odor, in a controlled manner... then it would likely see a lot of civilian use as well.

10:28 AM  
Blogger A Soldier's Girl said...

Actually, Bill, from some preliminary testing (mostly to see if we'd need to have fire/bomb-proof containers for our experiment) we've had a lot of trouble setting the stuff on fire at *all.*

Oh, and it's grainy, like sand, so it doesn't roll well, even mixed with tobacco. Also, if you get any in your mouth, it tastes horrible. Awful. Like you've just licked an engine block caked with salt.

7:11 PM  
Anonymous Bill McD said...

hmmm. Well, it's a chemical reactant, right? How's it normally operated? IE: are there multiple compounds that have to mix to begin heating?

It's a heating agent after all, not a combustible. It might not burn at all, but just warm up through chemical recombination.

And actually... I have licked a salty engine block, in a '72 Vega. On a bet. I lost. Ew.

11:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

MRE flameless heater magnesium can burn.

8:53 PM  
Blogger Just A Decurion said...

MRE flameless heaters can burn.

But you can't light them with a cigarette lighter. It takes a cardboard case and burning plastic to get the fire hot enough to ignite the magnesium.

You can't do it with a lighter.

12:43 AM  
Blogger A Soldier's Girl said...

The heating agent is designed to work with water, and produce heat through that chemical reaction.

Anonymous- I'm thinking we'll pick up a butane lighter to see if that lights it, but I'm not making any bets.

And seriously, very few folx are going to let someone light their cigaretter with a blowtorch, or it's miniature cousin.

1:03 AM  

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