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How Does Coal Walking Work?


(Upbeat music) (creaks) – Okay, BrainStuff, it’s me, Jonathan. Let’s say you’re in
Northern Greece or Bulgaria or maybe Polynesia and some
villagers convince you that, you know what, walking
barefoot through fire can’t be that bad, I’m willing to
risk third degree burns to participate in their bonding ritual, thereby demonstrating the
awesome power of my faith. But is it really mind over
matter like some people say? How do people walk on hot coals
without burning their feet? Well here’s the good news,
there is a scientific answer. It involves heat
conduction and insulation. For it to work, coal walkers
light the fire well ahead of time and let it burn
down to non-flaming coals. I repeat, they’re walking
on coals, not fire. See, the lightweight
carbon structure of coal is actually a poor conductor of heat. This means it takes longer for
the heat to transfer to human skin than a good conductor
would, like a burning metal pan. Water also has a high
thermal capacity which is why coal walkers let the
wood burn down first so the embers don’t retain water. It also helps them to pat
down and spread the coals so there’s a flat surface
that prevents their feet from digging in and scooping up hotter embers. If they keep moving, each step should absorb relatively little heat. That’s why they’re coal
walkers and not coal standers, otherwise their feet would
sink and burn like bacon. Finally, you ever notice how most coal walking is done at night? Well, that’s because coal walkers cover their path with a layer of ash. If the sun were up, you’d
see this, but at night the glow is still visible
through the layer. Ash is also poor at conducting heat. It blocks some of the warmth
coming from the coals, transferring the heat even
more slowly to your feet. Even with this information
about conduction and insulation, coal walking
can still be dangerous. Sometimes a hot coal
might get stuck to a foot. Tripping and falling can even be fatal. And watch out for misinformation about the physical principles behind this stunt, there’s some claims out there
that are simply not true and I wouldn’t want any
BrainStuff fans to get hurt. That said, now that we know
there’s science involved, what do you think about the
whole mind over matter claim? Is there more to this trick? Let us know your thoughts
in the comments below and don’t forget to click the
subscribe button for our channel. I promise it won’t hurt so
long as you do it at night and cover your screen with ashes. Don’t really do that.

Jean Kelley

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97 COMMENTS

  1. Joey Posted on April 2, 2015 at 10:29 pm

    Well hypnosis and self-hypnosis can definitely manifest in a physical way. 

    I have seen someone been hypnotized. The hypnotist laid a plain piece of paper in a person's hand who was under hypnosis. The hypnotist told the person this piece of paper was actually burning. The person let go of the piece of paper and felt sever pain in his hands. Sure this could be bullshit, but there was actually severe redness, indicating a burn wound, on the place where the paper was laid.

    Reply
  2. Leeann N. Posted on April 2, 2015 at 10:30 pm

    very very very nice

    Reply
  3. Gwolfsoun Posted on April 2, 2015 at 10:38 pm

    Well I definitely think its mind over matter because they're smart enough to use science. Sounds like using mind to over matter to me.

    Reply
  4. only half bad 333 Posted on April 2, 2015 at 10:40 pm

    I learned about this trick on the tv show,Penn & Teller: Bullshit!

    Damn I miss that show :/

    Reply
  5. Sandrine P Posted on April 2, 2015 at 11:03 pm

    In my home country (Reunion Island), Hindu people walk on coals. Some of them walk very slowly and others run through it. It's still pretty amazing.

    Reply
  6. Selena C Posted on April 2, 2015 at 11:28 pm

    This was talked about on MythBusters, but great video anyways.

    Reply
  7. Osiris Malkovich Posted on April 2, 2015 at 11:46 pm

    I always thought it was just a trick. Thanks for doing this video!

    Reply
  8. Sad Guroo Posted on April 2, 2015 at 11:52 pm

    I do hot metal sheet walking

    Reply
  9. Gson 72 Posted on April 3, 2015 at 12:17 am

    I wish YouTube allowed memes. Pictures r better then words

    Reply
  10. Itskelvinn Posted on April 3, 2015 at 3:34 am

    Wrong. God protects them because they have faith.

    (Just kidding)

    Reply
  11. Sir Reelist Posted on April 3, 2015 at 6:39 am

    Coal walkers are such cheaters.

    Reply
  12. TheMonyarm Posted on April 3, 2015 at 7:57 am

    We don't do coal walking in bulgaria

    Reply
  13. Stephen Mortimer Posted on April 3, 2015 at 9:06 am

    3,901 views …212 likes (apathy) 3 thumbs down (same % stats as votes for Putin)  It comes to me that Der Vogelbaum might have some thoughts on "juicing up" the stats??

    Reply
  14. Superbigdildoman Posted on April 3, 2015 at 11:54 am

    Why the fuck would you walk on hot coal

    Reply
  15. eowbvrwjer Posted on April 3, 2015 at 4:04 pm

    Hmm was on natgeo yesterday

    Reply
  16. elmonte5lim Posted on April 7, 2015 at 4:57 am

    Whatever happened to 'the leidenfrost effect'?

    As an explanation for protection during coal-walking, it seems to have fallen out of fashion.

    Reply
  17. RICHARD DAMROW Posted on April 8, 2015 at 2:46 pm

    Of course mind over matter. An unprepared mind midway may panic and stand still or dig deeper to accelerate.

    Reply
  18. dbsirius Posted on April 29, 2015 at 8:22 am

    You spoilt the magic…

    Reply
  19. Alex M. Chong Posted on May 13, 2015 at 3:03 pm

    This video sounds like yet another claim.

    Reply
  20. Equilibrium Posted on May 29, 2015 at 11:50 pm

    I'm so mad! Mario Lopez's finding love show on VH1 had the girls walk over coal to prove their love to him, and I thought that was so insane, but apparently they weren't even doing anything that crazy! I understand reality TV is sort of fake, but I just feel disrespected right now.

    Reply
  21. Pratik Sb Posted on June 7, 2015 at 8:14 am

    Why does white roads ( Concrete ) make so much noise than Dark roads..?

    Reply
  22. Dirtboxhor Posted on July 1, 2015 at 12:37 am

    Or take a lot of drugs and and be doped outta your skull.  That works too.

    Reply
  23. Ian Tabor Posted on September 4, 2015 at 4:30 pm

    I have done it and it truly is mind over matter, in fact i have done it multiple times. neither time have i gotten a fire kiss.

    Reply
  24. PREPARE 2 PREVAIL Posted on September 11, 2015 at 11:19 am

    Great video. I have conducted several fire walks over the years, with martial arts groups I have been involved with. I have used the experience to put the "mind over matter" rituals used by faith groups and personal growth organizations into perspective. By enabling a person to experience the powerful psychological effect of "walking fire", and then — afterward — explaining the physical / physiological reality of the exercise, encourages discussion, debate and practical education among participants.

    Reply
  25. uncipaws Posted on November 11, 2015 at 7:23 pm

    Thanks. So to safely "firewalk", have a good amount of charcoal no longer burning, just glowing, spread it evenly on a stone floor, cover it with a layer of ash and walk on it (and do it at night because only then you see the glow)?
    I'd love to do this for entertainment at a group event next summer if I find volunteers to participate. But I don't want to be responsible for injuries. I'm already more resistant to hot road surfaces than most others I know, so I'm confident I'd remain unhurt.

    Reply
  26. iDropAll Pkers Posted on December 16, 2015 at 12:21 pm

    I was once in my home country and the villagers had a HEIGHT of coal, they convinced me to be hypnotized and that I would be able to walk through it perfectly. They video taped me.

    It was no stone underneath, it was hot coal as I felt the extreme heat before I even got into the hypnotic state. And the coal was deep. It was not one or 2 layers it was like 5 layers of coal. They hypnotized me and made me walk through it (as I volunteered) and no damage was done.

    After that I came out of the hypnotic state by their wish and I was amazed. They then made me to do another thing in another hypnosis which was to touch a cool stone. A lot of others felt it as well and my mother held her hand on the same stone as the same time as me, when I was hypnotized, they made me burn my hand on the cool stone by just telling me to feel like it's hot. I got some minor burning damages but it was amazing. Explain please?:p

    Reply
  27. Nicolas St-Gelais Posted on February 13, 2016 at 6:18 pm

    some people walk on red hot metal grills without getting burnt. Some people can extinguish cigarettes on their skin without getting burnt. Science explains some of it but there is definitely an un explained side to this apparently related to ones state of mind http://www.firewalking.com/research/theory/

    Reply
  28. Jack Kenway Posted on March 6, 2016 at 11:43 pm

    Well there you go, I've always heard people say that walking on hot coals is mind over matter or they have some kind of connection with the spirit world… but no there's science behind all that, thanks guys!

    Reply
  29. Sotoshi Koruto Posted on December 3, 2016 at 9:09 am

    on my uncle birthday we were cooking bacon with coal in the floor out side and the ground just explode why?
    and also i got coal in my foot arm and also lips taste bad 😛

    Reply
  30. Prakash Besra Posted on April 15, 2017 at 3:23 am

    They do it at night because compared to day , night has relatively low temperature and also moisture in air brings down the overall temperature.

    Reply
  31. PrestonHD Posted on April 20, 2017 at 3:14 am

    I've actually burned my feet recently with 1st 2nd and 3rd degree and I now think this is so damn stupid. Plus they were ashes and I DID cook like bacon. (I also had to run through it to get out.)

    Reply
  32. JeRome Welch Posted on June 6, 2017 at 10:24 am

    I believe the practice of walking on coals is based in conquering ones fear… Peace love your work. Thank you!

    Reply
  33. kapura Posted on June 24, 2017 at 3:52 am

    i still consider it somewhat mind over matter. at least, that AND the science of it. when people give into their fears when approaching something scary, something counter intuitive….its natural for people to hesitate. as said in this video, that hesitation can mean injury caused from breaking a fast enough stride to prevent burning. in that case….your minds choice to just keep going depite the fear is ALSO what keeps you from getting burned, along with the science. just imo.

    Reply
  34. RianMK Posted on August 26, 2017 at 8:34 am

    Coal is for pussies, real savages walk over lego

    Reply
  35. Gojira Posted on September 29, 2017 at 10:55 pm

    jonathan strickland.. strickland propane

    Reply
  36. Real Human Posted on October 21, 2017 at 4:15 am

    Coal walking is nothing! Try walking on legos!

    Reply
  37. Newshesha Rajeshwar Posted on November 3, 2017 at 11:14 pm

    Amazing

    Read more

    Reply
  38. Seth Morris Posted on November 26, 2017 at 1:15 am

    when i was young my dad said watch out for the hot coals and then i wasn’t paying attention and walked through and didn’t notice a thing until he told me then i started crying

    Reply
  39. Chef Number 1⃣ Posted on December 30, 2017 at 12:57 am

    Man's not hot confirmed

    Reply
  40. Clorox Beach Posted on February 7, 2018 at 10:11 pm

    I have done it, I just zone out the pain, I probably did it wrong according to this video, but it did hurt, I just had to zone out the pain.

    Reply
  41. Howard Hughes Posted on February 12, 2018 at 9:01 am

    The coals are at 400ºC-500ºC – if coal is such a poor conductor a) why is used for barbecues and b) how come other media are used i.e. lava, sheet metal or heated rocks? It's conducted when the sun goes down for effect – most people will not believe the incredible feet they have a achieved when they don't see the glowing coals. Length of the firewalk – as an instructor I did a 40ft firewalk which would rule out duration on the coals. Finally, people buring themselves on the second pass when the coals should be cooler but they will tell you that they did it 'because everyone else was doing it but I didn't really want to' which is the mindset end of things. Keep up the great work.

    Reply
  42. Abdul Hassan Posted on March 5, 2018 at 7:04 pm

    Dude, they even EAT red hot coal.. not just walk on it!

    Reply
  43. J Posted on March 14, 2018 at 4:00 am

    A bed of embers can exceed 1000°F, and the world's hottest firewalk in 1997 actually topped 1750°F—the same temperature used for cremations. Look at the mythbusters episode Adam goes unprepared and gets burned. Punishment for not being mentally prepared turned out it was mind over matter you can even see that chick fail because she has no idea what she is doing then the light hearted guy walked it twice with no pain! 😉 Fools the science is the fact our minds control matter.

    Reply
  44. S.S.M. Artism Posted on April 9, 2018 at 1:27 pm

    WHY THE FUCK DO YOU WANNA DO THAT!?

    Reply
  45. Resxolbor Posted on May 22, 2018 at 1:22 am

    Impressive.

    when you step on lego
    IMPOSSIBLE

    Reply
  46. DANIELLE LACY Posted on May 22, 2018 at 5:38 pm

    Aladdin brought me here!

    Reply
  47. Chris Glacken Posted on May 29, 2018 at 11:57 pm

    so if you walk on water it makes you jesus, but when you walk on fire does that make you the anti christ?!?

    Reply
  48. Poeta De La Luna Posted on June 5, 2018 at 4:14 am

    I have walk 3 times in one night and by the next day my feet were healing up because of how strong was my connection between me and the mother nature. It's more spiritual than mind.

    Reply
  49. Timmy Flaherty Posted on June 28, 2018 at 11:47 pm

    Your science is the Word of God. His promises already laid down.

    Reply
  50. afendi ujud Posted on July 21, 2018 at 3:58 am

    Super bullshitdo

    Reply
  51. TZMDanTVP Posted on August 11, 2018 at 3:31 pm

    https://youtu.be/jK_7zbrLON8

    Reply
  52. insorte diaboli Posted on September 18, 2018 at 6:24 pm

    i have seen people walk on flaming coals, i have even seen people walk on fresh broken glass covered in naptha and set on fire, so i think that for some extreme versions it is a mind over matter thing but most coal walkers are not really putting themselves in danger. for instance i am a glass walker among other things, most people use old glass that has had most of the sharp edges removed, i do not, i stand on real extremely sharp broken glass, i do not even romove the more dangerous shaped pieces and i lift weights on that glass, and even jump up and down, and i have never yet cut myself. now having said that i have been practicing for a long time, after a while you can know wwhat you can do and take it to the next level slowly over time to be able to do more and more dangerous things, so it i believe it isnt just about mind over matter but it is also about experience, knowing your body and what it can handle and building your body to be able to handle more over time, the body can do absolutely amazing things if you know how to train it

    Reply
  53. Kathy Reddy Posted on September 20, 2018 at 10:38 pm

    If coal walking is as fake as you say it is. Give it a try.

    Reply
  54. Peter Kazavis Posted on September 25, 2018 at 1:51 am

    It works by not listening to your dumbass

    Reply
  55. Fiodar Sazanavets Posted on October 5, 2018 at 9:31 pm

    "Coal is a poor conductor of heat". Have you ever tried doing a BBQ?

    Reply
  56. azimuth361 Posted on October 6, 2018 at 11:06 pm

    I would suggest that it IS mind over matter to some extent. A person has to summon up the courage to walk on the coals. But it takes the same kind of courage to skydive or bungee jump.

    Reply
  57. Nedunjelian Narayasamy Posted on October 28, 2018 at 11:24 am

    Have you walked on it before?

    Reply
  58. M Smith Posted on January 13, 2019 at 5:00 am

    About the hot stone walkers of Fiji they stop to greet tourist and after the walk they prove the stones are burning hot after the walk.

    Reply
  59. Arjun Verma Posted on January 13, 2019 at 9:06 am

    I would like to see you doing don't explain it by talking

    Reply
  60. Fringe Wizard Posted on February 10, 2019 at 10:34 pm

    Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned?

    Proverbs 6:28

    Reply
  61. xauun YT Posted on March 11, 2019 at 5:12 am

    so you telling me people are cheating when they do this

    Reply
  62. basant vimal sharma Posted on March 16, 2019 at 12:43 pm

    Jqust try stepping on a small piece of coal amber and you will jump.in Fiji there is an island called Beqa where the natives walk on white hot big stones that have been set in huge bonfires and even pause in the middle.your scientific explanation does not apply to them .they are blessed .if someone gets burnt not a Beqa islander any accidential burn victim first second third degree if a bega islander touches the burning sensation and pain is gone the burn will heal in day severely burnt persons have been cured and not even a scar will be visible after a few weeks. I myself am a burn victim.check u tube .just type Beqa fire walking

    Reply
  63. Brandishing Bob Posted on March 17, 2019 at 6:21 am

    I just did it on a fire…

    Reply
  64. We Frost Posted on March 18, 2019 at 4:14 am

    My sister just went to a Tony Robbins coal walking seminar. 12-18 hours a day to be brainwashed and walk on coal. I wanted to find out the science behind it. Thank you.

    Reply
  65. Duncan Kalel Alba Posted on March 26, 2019 at 1:12 pm

    The secret is,just don't stay your feet into hot coal in 2 seconds to prevent burn and Pain

    Reply
  66. shell company Posted on April 2, 2019 at 5:23 am

    Imagine tripping and falling

    Reply
  67. Patrick Freeman Posted on April 9, 2019 at 4:12 am

    Yeah? Show me. Go ahead and give it a try. If it's science, if the coals are "poor conductors of heat" why do why do so many people get 3rd degree burns. And why don't you prove your theory by giving it a try?

    Reply
  68. vaira vell Posted on April 17, 2019 at 6:06 pm

    stupit explanation….try ur self thrn u will the right and wrong

    Reply
  69. Martina Radeva Posted on May 10, 2019 at 10:15 am

    Have you ever seen a coal walking by yourself? It seems to me that you haven’t! Don’t underestimate the capabilities of the people who spare their whole lives to practice how to do it! You are basically calling them cheaters which is totally unacceptable! You are making fun of peoples traditions! So lame and stupid video! I personally touched one of the coals just for a part of the second and it burned as hell. Try that first and then make stupid videos!

    Reply
  70. ΕΥΤΥΧΙΑ ΣΑΛΟΝΙΚΙΔΟΥ Posted on May 26, 2019 at 8:59 am

    so many stools and say nothing!

    Reply
  71. DRGoldTurtle Posted on June 3, 2019 at 11:59 pm

    Have you gone firewalking? I've done it several times and know many people who do it every year. It hurts. You get burned. Everything you said is wrong.

    Reply
  72. blasko229 Posted on June 10, 2019 at 3:04 am

    Didn't even demonstrate

    Reply
  73. MFT_Sauce Posted on July 16, 2019 at 5:38 am

    I’m pretty sure this got patched in 12.3.5

    Reply
  74. LuSiren Posted on August 24, 2019 at 7:44 pm

    If this guy knows so much then why doesn't he give a demonstration?

    Reply
  75. Misbah Ul Hassan Posted on September 21, 2019 at 12:30 am

    For your claim just watch this video and you will know that there are many of them who actually walk or run through glowing hot coal or fire.
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ICQl_ai-07g

    For you it might be unreal or strange but for a believer nothing is unreal or strange. The name they chant when walking is the real reason of everything. Trust Islam brother, it is the last hope for humanity.

    Reply
  76. XXX XXX Posted on November 3, 2019 at 12:29 pm

    Try walking on ice cubes

    Reply
  77. firewalking mail Posted on November 14, 2019 at 11:46 pm

    well why do people burn sometimes?

    Reply
  78. Geoffrey J Carp Posted on December 15, 2019 at 9:16 pm

    Mind over matter prevents you from getting burned by fire as much as it stops gravity when you fall.

    Reply
  79. Im The Devil Posted on December 23, 2019 at 2:12 pm

    When i was little, my dad used to walk in the snow in bare feet and stir boiling food on the stove with his fingers. i asked him how he does it and he said "you build up a tolerance to it." So i figured it was normal for adults and i too built up enough tolerance. Years later, i found out that he was always drunk but i dont even care cause now, i can do things normal people cant 😁

    Reply
  80. USER Posted on December 25, 2019 at 10:06 am

    💯 % pure science. I have tested it and all these explanations matches. Good job

    Reply
  81. London Power Posted on December 25, 2019 at 9:56 pm

    This is Dionysiac rites from ancient Greece

    Reply
  82. Jonathan Sakks Posted on January 12, 2020 at 4:02 am

    This big gay try walk on legos

    Reply
  83. David Čuljak Posted on January 28, 2020 at 5:18 pm

    R u stupid

    Reply
  84. Christopher Howard Posted on January 31, 2020 at 7:12 pm

    You talk better then you walk.

    Reply
  85. Elijah Peterson Posted on February 1, 2020 at 5:59 pm

    Then you should try to walk on it

    Reply
  86. Panth Mantheon Posted on February 3, 2020 at 6:13 am

    Nobody walks on coal in Greece you dickhead

    Reply
  87. Gen Z Gaming Posted on February 3, 2020 at 4:41 pm

    Coal is the hottest part of the fire not the fire fire..

    Reply
  88. Alok Sanga Posted on February 23, 2020 at 12:06 pm

    my mom did this

    Reply
  89. Narayan Dass Posted on February 25, 2020 at 12:46 am

    You're full of crap man. evr stepped on a coal that fell out of the bbq? ive seen others do it and gotten burned badly. I did this myself on a bed of 1300 degree coals. after walking across unburned i then dnaced in the coals kicked them around stomped on them and stood still on them your science doesn't hold up.

    Reply
  90. Narayan Dass Posted on February 25, 2020 at 12:50 am

    people do get burned walking on coals

    Reply
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