Gurstelle demonstrates his homemade flamethrower. Courtesy Karen Hansen

I learned a lot of interesting scientific facts while writing Absinthe and Flamethrowers: Projects and Ruminations on the Art of Living Dangerously. Here are five ways to (safely) add a little danger to your life.

Absinthe & Flamethrowers

Projects and Ruminations on the Art of Living Dangerously. Amazon link.

Click here to launch the gallery of five delightfully dangerous things, all culled from my new book.

Make Black Powder

To concoct this primitive form of gunpowder, just mix simple chemicals, like charcoal and saltpeter. Follow the recipe in my book, and the oxygen molecules in saltpeter will react with the sulfur in charcoal to unleash a torrent of energy, smoke and noise.

Eat Fugu

Every gastronome must someday dine on fugu sushi. Have an expert serve the delicate tiger pufferfish flesh. Some parts contain tetrodotoxin, a neurotoxin with no known antidote.

Crack a Whip

A whip transfers momentum from your arm to its tip, creating a thrilling mini sonic boom at 770 mph. Eye patches and novice whip-crackers go hand in hand, so be sure to wear goggles.

Build a Rocket

Nothing impresses a cute geek girl like building her a high-performance rocket out of stuff from your garage. All it takes is the proper mixture of fuel (granulated sugar) and oxidizer (tree-stump remover). Our own Theo Gray played with candy-powered rockets in a previous installment of Gray Matter. Check out his results here.

Construct a Flamethrower

A propane accumulator flame cannon is a relatively easy project—just make sure your pipe joints are tight, limit fuel pressure, and operate it at a steady level. Still, keep a fire extinguisher handy. After all, you can’t take on future challenges without all your fingers and toes.