Well, this product has been a long time coming. When we developed the fire hoop back in 2000, I never thought I’d see it get so big. Only a few people seemed interested in it, and the person who originally commissioned it never really got into fire. So, it seemed a bust. But now, There’s dozens of fire hoop makers out there, most using our original design, or some variant of it.
We lost Kandice, our main product tester, when she started selling flexible spine hoops based on springs. Holistic hooping did okay but never really took a command of the market. I think the real problem was weight. Her hoops were pretty heavy, and most of the hoopers were still struggling with the idea of a larger hoop with wicks, never mind extra hardware. Still I was content to let her have that market: she was adding to the art, not just photocopying someone else’s design.
I felt the same way about Brandon’s contribution (now sold through TC). At least the rubber flex spines were novel. My problem with that design was in safety. Rubber is flammable, usually more so than the hoop material. But that turned out to be the least of the worries. Once these things pervaded the market, we started seeing the real issues: mysterious cracks would appear in the rubber parts and release at unpredictable times, and the rubber was vulnerable to concentrated exposure to petrol fumes. Granted, you’d have to dip the wicks, then put them in a plastic bag to get this kind of exposure, but it could, and did, happen.
That’s when I started looking into a solution. Clearly the rubberized spines were more popular than the springs, and probably more popular than the cables (which weren’t removable). So, the trick was to create a rubber, flexible spine, that connected the wick to the hoop with an all-metal connection. I tried and vetoed several designs until we came up with this one.
Like the image at the top, we add a loop of metal to each half of the wick. The loops are connected and welded so that the base is “hard connected” to the wick spine. We cover this joint in high heat, silicon rubber. This way, even if you tear the rubber completely off, or otherwise managed to destroy it, the wick stays attached to the hoop. But this silicon rubber is the shiznat. We tried it out for the dodats and it has far surpassed our wildest expectations.
We tested them for over a year and made one significant change: the base material. Originally, the wick spine and the base were both aluminum (for weight reasons). But we found the bases were bending and taking damage. So, we grabbed a cup o’ Get Over Yourself and hit the drawing board. Eventually it was decided that the high carbon steel we offer as the super spines was the best choice. This took the weight of an individual spine up to 1.75 ounces, putting it nicely between our all aluminum spines at 1.3 oz, and our high carbon steel spines at 1.9oz.