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A truly wonderful sight as they soar into the sky ......
Member Name: thehonesttruth
Date: 05/01/10, updated on 05/01/10 (129 review reads)
Whilst looking around in the Works for some last minute christmas presents on the 24th, I spotted these selling at just 99p each . Having seen them in shops costing 6.99 before, I decided this was a good bargain, and decided to snap up a few for new years, as they would look wonderful floating away into the night sky.
They come wrapped in a clear plastic bag, and once you open them up, you'll realise these are actually quite huge . Size probably varies by brand, but they are a large balloon shape - too large, as I found out later to really be handled easily by one person . My daughter at six was far too young to be holding these, but she watched as , at about 7 on NYE, with a calm windless night, I attempted to light one of these .
It soon became apparent that due to the large size of these, and the location of the wick , a square piece of chipboard coated with waxed fabric, that I wasn't going to be able to manage this alone . I would recommend that you have a couple of other people to help you - two to hold the lantern upright, and one to duck underneath and light the wick. After faffing about with it for a few minutes, I knocked on my neighbours door and asked them if they would like to help set these off with me . They loved the idea, and my neighbour even attached a photo of her dad, who was killed a couple of years ago, to one of them, also drawing angels on the side of it . This was a lovely idea - sending a wish and prayer into the sky to past loved ones.
Between three of us, we did manage to get them lit , although lighting the wick itself was a struggle, as it seemed to take some time to catch , and you had to light two opposite corners . A windproof lighter, if you have one, might make things a little easier .
Once we successfully lit it, it took a couple of minutes for the lantern to fully inflate with hot air, and we could tell when it was ready to be released as it felt lighter in our hands . The lantern cast a warm glow, with the white paper sides coloured a warm bright orange by the flame within. We released our first lantern, watching as it rose up in the sky, heading quite high up as a good speed, and then slowly drifting away from us . We watched until it became a tiny speck in the distance, and as we watched we saw more going up from the areas around us . It was simply stunning to watch, such a simple, beautiful thing.
As with anything involving fire, these can be incredibly dangerous - and I certainly would not recommend lighting one of these alone, as even on the calmest of days it only takes the slightest breeze for it to attempt to be off on it's own . I also recommend staying sober - alcohol and fire do not mix well .
If you only have a small space, these could be pretty dangerous if they drift into fences and such while alight . My neighbours and I carefully checked which way the slight breeze was blowing before lighting these, opting to light them in our front gardens, knowing that the way they would blow was open land where it could cause no damage . The wicks are designed to be long burning, to give a satisfying flight, and so you really must be careful with these . There were a couple of warnings on the pack against using in crowded areas, near trees, or near an airport.
The lanterns themselves are made with fire resistant paper, which is biodegradable. That's a good thing, as otherwise there would be loads of litter lying about. I don't know if the lantern itself eventually catches fire and burns out, or if it simply gradually peters out with the shell falling down to earth , as mine vanished into the distance after a while . However, whilst the paper casing might be biodegradable, I'm not convinced that the metal frame would be, so I imagine that would need to be disposed of in a litter bin.
Overall, watching these float away on a clear cloudless night was wonderful - especially when, just moments after we sent them off on their way, it began to snow. I would certainly buy these again, they look wonderful and could be used for so many occasions - weddings, new years, bonfire night, funerals, or like my neighbour, just in memory of someone who has passed . I would personally like to see some smallers ones, more manageable alone, and I'm sure there are some out there .
I paid 99p for each of mine . Prices do vary from place to place, but they are pretty commonly available online and in a fair few shops, so I recommend looking around. Bear in mind that as a pyrotechical product, these are age restricted and intended for sale only to those over 18 - which I think is perfectly reasonable considering the potential danger if these are misused.
4 stars - one off for being rather bulky, and for the wick being a pain to light .
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