Fire and You
This is fire. Fire is dangerous. Keep that in mind when fire scrying. Light your fire in an open area, leave space around it. Indoors is okay, but leave a window open nearby for ventilation. Also be aware that your fire alarm will probably go off if you are indoors and don’t turn it off.
Take a large bowl, or cauldron, that won’t burn. I use one of those big silvery metal salad bowls. It has taken on a nice burnished, rainbowy look from all the fires. Put the bowl on the floor or on a low altar. Leave at least two feet of room all around it. Put a towel under it if you don’t want what is beneath it to be scorched. You can surround it with large rocks to keep it from being knocked over if you are going to have people moving or dancing around it or if your bowl has a round bottom. Make sure that any animals and small children are safely occupied elsewhere.
Pour in a cup of rubbing alcohol. Light it on fire with a long match or already lit long candle. The fire won’t roar up instantly, but it will do it quickly enough that you will be grateful for the length of the match. Lighters (the short ones) are a good way to get burnt. I use one of those long barbecue lighters both for safety and reliability in the often windy conditions of outdoor rituals.
One cup of rubbing alcohol will probably get you 10 minutes of flame. Plenty of time for a good vision. Let the flame burn out naturally. Do not refill the bowl while the flame is burning. I lit myself on fire once this way. I was careless and did not respect the flame. It reminded me of respect, completely destroying a Lughnasad ritual in the process.
The flame will probably be between two and two and a half feet high. The higher the alcohol content in the rubbing alcohol the hotter the flame will be. Ninety-nine percent fires will also leave more ash and be more likely to set off the smoke detector. Start with the seventy percent until you get comfortable with it. The first time, it will look much bigger than you expect. Practice before using it in ritual. Start with one half cup and work up.
In case of emergencies, probably a spill, don’t panic. Look at the fire to see if it will actually light anything else on fire. Unlike wax/oil fires, you can put rubbing alcohol fires out with water so keep a lot handy. The alcohol will float at first, but then go out. Smothering with a damp towel also works. Just drop the towel over fire. Ninety-nine percent alcohol will produce more interesting fires, but seventy percent will hurt less if you are burned. A bottle of burn cream or a fire extinguisher, even though you will probably never use them, will greatly reassure the pyrophobes around you.
When I first started doing scrying bowls, everyone told me I had to put Epsom salt in the alcohol, but no one knew why. Epsom salt makes the flames more even and less wild. When using ninety-nine percent, this can produce the occasional ring effect (a ring effect is like a smoke ring of fire), but overall, the effect of Epsom salt is minimal. Using sea or table salt produces random flashes of gold color late in the burn. Using boric acid, instead of a salt, will give a much more pronounced effect turning much of the fire bright green. Epsom salt and rubbing alcohol are both in the pharmacy part of a large grocery/drug store. Boric acid will be by the contact lens stuff (it is a cleaner). Sea salt is by the food.
For the salts, use as much salt as you do alcohol. For the boric acid, put in as much as you have alcohol, then add more until it gets thicker and souplike. Mix the stuff well and let it sit for a while before lighting. Additives usually decrease burning time. None of the additives are good after burning. They will be smelly, crusty, and you will actually have to scrape out some bit of the boric acid. Throw this stuff away after each use.
Here is a list of all the things you will need or may want for the fire scrying: A metal bowl, rubbing alcohol, a damp towel, a pitcher of water, a long candle, matches, or lighter, burn cream, fire extinguisher, Epsom or other salt, boric acid.