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Playing With Fire

(28 Posts)
FantaIsFine Sun 22-Jan-17 19:57:40

Literal title; no idea where I should post!

Fire is fascinating and I always as a child (can't for the life of me remember at what age, to do with my question) loved playing with melted wax/poking things into the fireplace/fab when you throw sugar on a fire or transition metal salts that make a nice colour.

I'm a scientist by background and do stuff like fish dissection, vinegar/bicarb lava and the like with Godkids etc, for fun. I'm not a teacher.

This may be an incendiary - see what I did there? - question but: at what age do you feel it's okay for a child to be allowed to experiment with fire/lighters/matches, under supervision and in a curious way with an understanding of hazards, not freestyle pyromania? Safety is paramount but I don't feel like that's my actual question, I think there's more to it (?)

I ask because of doing some experiment stuff with a child who wanted to try out some fire stuff. I would never of course do so without parental approval, just interested in any thoughts on this point.

Should I prepare for a flaming...? I might be WAY overthinking and overcautious.

Thanks in advance

formerbabe Sun 22-Jan-17 20:01:41


I wouldn't allow at any age.

namechange20050 Sun 22-Jan-17 20:08:54

There's a forest school near me and they cover starting fires etc at age 5.

namechange20050 Sun 22-Jan-17 20:13:50

There's a forest school near me and they cover starting fires etc at age 5.

PeridotPassion Sun 22-Jan-17 20:20:20

Not sure it's quite what you mean but ds1 (age 8) came out of school with a candle that he'd made last week. He was very excited and begged to light it himself.

He's never used a lighter or matches before but we let him light a match to do it himself. He was fascinated, it took a couple of goes for him to light a match without it instantly going out but he did it. He then asked to do one more because he loved the smell (so do I!) so we let him light one just to blow out. Then of course ds2 (6, nearly 7) begged to do the same and it seemed unfair to say no, so he also lit a match and blew it out.

We followed it up with a chat about fire safety, about how you never ever light a match without either dh or me being there etc and I feel confident that they took it in and understood and wouldn't (not that they have access to the matches anyway).

dollydaydream114 Sun 22-Jan-17 20:21:35

I wouldn't allow at any age.

Then they won't be able to take part in science lessons at school or participate in Brownies/Cubs.

My dad is a scientist and he was always doing supervised experiments with us, including stuff that involved fire. Obviously the emphasis was always 100% on safety, but it's all part of how kids learn science. It's also part of how they learn fire safety - for example, my dad showed me how incredible flammable some materials can be by holding scraps of fabric in a flame with tongs. That was how I learnt that it's a very bad idea to run around near the gas fire with a billowy nightie on.

Oysterbabe Sun 22-Jan-17 20:26:49

I did all that stuff too smile
I'm going to say 10-12 depending on the child as I think that's about the age I started.

harderandharder2breathe Sun 22-Jan-17 20:35:11

"Playing" with fire nope. That's a dangerous attitude to give children. Fire is not a toy.

Learning to cook on s fire or build a fire correctly, yes. My Brownies (age 7-10) are allowed to toast marshmallows over a tea light, or on a campfire. With the fire, only a few at s time, they're reminded about how to keep safe. The older Brownies and all the Guides (age 10-14) have learned fire building at pack holiday or during guide meetings. Again, working in small groups with adult supervision especially the for the brownies. The Guides cook on a fire and disposable BBQs.

Awwlookatmybabyspider Sun 22-Jan-17 21:05:07

Sorry, but. There's no bloody away I'd allow that. As pp says. Fire is not a toy. There's no going back once a child is maimed or burned to death.

FantaIsFine Sun 22-Jan-17 21:33:34

Thanks for feedback.

I am astonished at the responses "never allowed" which is why my question was "at what age". I perhaps trivialised my post with the title, but sadly I've never been able to resist a pun.

FWIW I agree with Oyster in terms of appropriate age, WITH supervision, WITH fire hazard background knowledge and I think generally informal scientific experimentation enthuses generations of potential genii. It has to be at some age, my question is when.

I suppose a follow up question for those who won't permit guided experimentation is when your children are legally permitted to buy fireworks, how do they know the safe way to deal with lit stuff when they can do so with no guidance?

helpfulperson Sun 22-Jan-17 21:33:43

If it happens within the right situation ie scouts, guides, forest schools, outdoor learning, with interested parents etc I would say 5 upwards when they can understand the difference between in controlled circumstances and 'playing' with fire. I do alot with scouts and it is interesting to hear their reaction as young people who use fire for cooking and understand how to manage it to those who don't get it and light random fires in woodlands etc.

LovingLola Sun 22-Jan-17 21:37:49

We allowed ours to light fires, candles etc. at the age of 5 - but under our supervision. Matches and lighters were never ever left around for them to play with or experiment with...

Wishforsnow Sun 22-Jan-17 21:43:04

Kids normally go to forest schools in reception year so age 5 and light fires and cook. Formerbabe did you wait until 18 or is it still never?

CommonFramework Sun 22-Jan-17 21:44:04

Ds is 9. Since he was 7 we have lit fires with him - he knows how to set and lay a fire, how to light it and keep it going, can use a flint, can light a candle and blow it out. He loves putting things in log burners on holiday - so do I!

But it's always with our supervision. He is wary of fire and respects it. But it's a great skill to have.

HecateAntaia Sun 22-Jan-17 21:44:54

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

flumpsnlumpsnstuff Sun 22-Jan-17 21:46:24

At guides we teach them how to build and light campfires from 10 and cook as well although chicken is a no-go grin

formerbabe Sun 22-Jan-17 21:51:34

What HecateAntaia said.

Op...You asked me about shop bought fireworks. I don't believe they should be allowed to be sold to the general public. I'd never buy them...I'd absolutely discourage my children from buying them when they are adults.

In my own home, I don't allow candles. They are a pointless risk in my opinion. I can't see any point in learning how to light a fire. I've never had to and see no reason why I would ever need to. I don't smoke so don't have matches or lighters in my home. We have a gashob and I've explained the dangers to my dc, though they are never in the kitchen unsupervised if it's on.

Starypjs Sun 22-Jan-17 21:53:26

We had a coal fire at home when we were kids, mum and dad taught us to lay it and light it when we were about 10. dad also taught us about camp fires ie lighting and extinguishing them safely at about the same age. Teach em to respect the flames and explain the science of fire. I will always remember my sil spending a good few grand on a log burner she had no clue how to light or control.

Cel982 Sun 22-Jan-17 21:53:35

I was fascinated by all that stuff as a kid as well, OP - I remember when we were about 11 or 12 my best friend and I used to experiment with lighting different things (cotton wool burns particularly dramatically) - always outdoors, of course. I don't think it's unusual - fire is pretty fascinating, and it's perfectly normal for a child to want to investigate such an interesting phenomenon.

NoobThebrave Sun 22-Jan-17 22:01:32

I think anything forbidden can have an appeal and lead to secret tries.... Fire is facinating to many!! My son was allowed to be involved in 'safe' fire from about 6. He understands safe use of matches and fire and was capable of making a fire and cooking a meal on it from about 8 (obviously with supervision). We have also made candles, burnt things to see what happens etc etc. Children are curious, I am all for safe exploration. My son has helped cook from 3, he used the stove from about 6; he has only ever had a slight burn once. Being curious and having life skills are fab, curiosity leads to a keenness for learning. If the parents are OK with it then lucky kids having someone to do science with them smile

EagleIsland Sun 22-Jan-17 22:14:39

From the age of 10, to learn to light fires and cook on them.

I was always allowed to experiment as a kid. At 13 I had a air rifle. I would shoot at things in the garden AB examine the damage. I would melt the lead pellets into different shapes to see the change in effect.

PaulAnkaTheDog Sun 22-Jan-17 22:16:33

I thought this was a thread about a Sweet Valley High book and hoping for a Sweet Valley High loveathon.

Bitterly disappointed. angry

Crumbs1 Sun 22-Jan-17 22:17:04

Mine held sparklers under close supervision from about 7. The attended bonfire parties and hurled things on fire from about the same age. They could light the wood burners from about 12.

DJBaggySmalls Sun 22-Jan-17 22:20:52

8-12 depending on how sensible and mature they are. Loving fire doesnt make you dangerous.

Weedsnseeds1 Sun 22-Jan-17 22:27:25

I grew up with open fires in the house and knew how to light them from a very early age.We also had regular garden bonfires, BBQs, cooked on camp fires etc. I let a friend's child aged about 6 light a BBQ ( under supervision) and you'd think I'd allowed him to go bull running in Pamplona. Honestly didn't occur to me after a lifetime of setting fire to stuff ( and, yes, throwing on chemicals as described by OP, with the full encouragement if my scientifically trained father) was an issue.

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