What Are You Packing?

Too busy to pack for Burning Man? Maybe you’re a burgin, and you have no idea what to bring (hint: a lot of blinky lights and batteries). Or maybe you’re an experienced veteran, who can never quite get it right.

One guy has the answer. For $80, he’ll pack for you. Don’t be fooled because he looks like he forgot to pack his shirt…those are some serious lederhosen and knee-high socks right there.

Thanks to Playa Slumlord for finding this, if you’re still looking for a good deal on an RV check them out.

From Craigslist:

Packing Consultant for Burning Man

image 1image 2image 3

packing consultantPlaya Packing Consultant

Are you a ‘burgin’, or even a returning Burner, but a bit too frazzled to get everything in order for the big trip to Black Rock City? I can help you pack for Burning Man, whether you’ve got your ticket or not.

I’m a sixteen-year veteran who’s seen all sorts of weather and packed for untold themes and occasions. Whether for a compact car, or a rental truck, I can help you organize the big list. And we can even work on the tetris-puzzle of compacting it all into a sensible load.

Are you joining a village? Are you breaking out on your own? Let me hit all the points of what’s really going to be important once you’re out there.

List Consulting:

Compact Car: $80 day meeting

Rental Truck: $80 day, minimum two meetings

Actual Packing:

$80, must take place on or before Aug 23rd.

I’ll help you choose desert-safe containers, best choices for nighttime cold, and the best menu for round-trip and compost-free eating. (No, you don’t want to end up with a pile of neglected veggies, in a garbage bag, next to you on the ride home in the SUV.)

Let’s Take This Show On The Road

The Man Burns is a play set at Burning Man, to be performed outside Burning Man. The playwright is David Vernon, who grew up in a showbiz family: his dad was the voice of Frosty the Snowman.

It’s quite an interesting vision. For those who may or may not be going to Burning Man this year – perhaps you’re still waiting for tickets – this is an art project you can support, and be a part of, and get to enjoy. You can bring friends and family to it, to give them a taste of Burner culture without making them breathe and bathe in Playa dust. It meets the Burning Man Project’s mission of facilitating the extension of Burner culture through the world, so you can feel all Burnier-than-thou and Ten Principally about backing it too.

It’s a Kickstarter, so if Burners don’t fund it, it won’t get made. Which would be a pity, because it sounds like a fun evening’s entertainment. They’ve hit 10% of their funding goal already, so any support you can give them would be appreciated. For any aspiring actors, young and old, for a mere $350 you can get a part in the production.


From Kickstarter:


THE MAN BURNS is a mystical, joyous theatrical observation on Burning Man and a glimpse into the lives of people who make this epic trek once a year. This interactive play breaks down the walls and gives you a night at Burning Man

This is not a play that will be performed at Burning Man-this will be performed off-playa, in your city, in a theater.

You walk up to the theater to see a performance of a new play, “The Man Burns.”  Out front is an art car playing music and getting the evening going. When you enter the theater the first thing you notice is a group of people gathered around a costume exchange picking out free colorful clothing accessories like a faux fur mantle or a set of glowing devil horns to wear inside the theater. If you brought an extra costume piece you can leave it behind for someone else.

A costume tent at Burning Man. Photo by Layne Kennedy
A costume tent at Burning Man. Photo by Layne Kennedy

Next, you’ll come across an old tiki bar called MAKIMAKI, the kind of bar you might accidentally happen on the esplanade at Burning Man. MAKIMAKI is decorated with well-traveled thrift shop tiki items. The house cocktail is of course, the MAKIMAKI, but there are other playa-themed cocktails as well. And a jar of pickled eggs on the counter.

When you go inside you’ll notice that the theater is decorated like the inside of a Mongolian yurt with beautiful tapestries lining the walls. The play begins. If you’ve never been to Burning Man you will be transported to this far-off, mysterious place. If you’ve been to the playa before you will find yourself back home, in the middle of a conversation about connectivity, overwhelming art, accidental sharts, (or accidental art and overwhelming sharts),  late night poutine and Burning Man urban myths.

During intermission and after the play there might be a marching band or or someone playing jazz songs on their ukelele or grilled cheese sandwiches being handed out. The party will change from city to city because YOU  are the party.


It’s too hot. It’s overrun by naked hippies. It’s too far away. There are no real showers. It used to be better ten years ago.

Those are some of the reasons I’ve heard from friends and relatives about why they’ll never come to Burning Man. But they love hearing stories about the playa and looking at all the photographs. Selfishly, I thought that by making “THE MAN BURNS” an interactive night with some fun, exciting elements of Burning Man, I could give all of my friends a Burning Man night. And you can too. Everyone has at least 5 friends or relatives who say they’ll never go. Bring them to see “THE MAN BURNS” and share the experience with them.

Author of The Man Burns, David Vernon
Author of The Man Burns, David Vernon

My name is David Vernon and I grew up in a show biz family. My dad was a comedian and the voice of Frosty the Snowman. I spent my childhood backstage at The Ed Sullivan Show, The Tonight Show and wondering why my father was never the “Secret Square” on The Hollywood Squares. I also grew up with a love of story. I would read a play then perform them with my sisters Barbies. In fact, her Barbie dream house was redressed many times and became the set for “A Streetcar Named Desire” and “The Glass Menagerie” and “The Merry Wives of Windsor.”  Eventually, I took my love of story to the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU where I studied Film and TV.

I have been a professional writer for the past twenty years.  I’ve written short fiction (which has been widely anthologized), screenplays (a film I wrote, “The Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green” premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and  was released by Regent films.)  I was recently commissioned to write three short scripts for an upcoming feature film anthology about the city of Berlin by the producers of “New York, I Love You.”  I’ve written essays on Salon (http://www.salon.com/2000/12/20/frosty/ …I didn’t know it at the time but all of these projects and jobs were training grounds for my most challenging and exciting project to date.


A whiteout is announced at Burning Man over the radio.  People are warned to take shelter. Within moments several strangers run into a Mongolian yurt to get away from the wind storm.

photo by Ian Norman
photo by Ian Norman

The strangers include: ANDY and BUNNY EARS, a gay couple that own the Mongolian Yurt and were preparing for a hot sexual encounter with someone they met on the playa. FIREFLY, a virgin burner who just dropped her first ever hit of MDMA and was on her way to a dance club, PERSEPHONE, an Australian sci-fi actress looking for a ride share to Venice Beach after having another disappointing day on the playa, MOWGLI, a bouncy, energetic young guy dressed entirely in blinky lights who communicates only through motion, MARY ANIMALS, a 60 year old woman who comes to Burning Man on her own and sets up a coffee stand (with the worst coffee on the playa), that is destroyed in the white out, and an ex-marine with an unfortunate sense of direction, known as McRIB, who is dressed in a sketchy Ronald McDonald outfit who was on his way to fight at Thunderdome but got lost.


The result is some funny chaos as these characters, and a few others, spend the evening connecting, disconnecting, arguing, and telling their Burning Man stories; some heartbreaking, some extraordinary.


“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”

― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, author of The Little Prince

I’ve been going to Burning Man for the past eleven years and have also been active in the Burner community. During that time I’ve witnessed many fascinating Burning Man stories unfold in front of me. I’ve also met  so many fascinating and unique individuals. Their stories inspired me to write “THE MAN BURNS.”

The people who go to Burning Man travel a great distance and experience great joy, and sometimes hardship in search of….what exactly? A unique vacation? An opportunity to meet like-minded people? A chance to become part of something bigger than ourselves…part of an artistic experiment? After years of taking notes,  I became passionate about writing a play that explored these questions.

For many people, “THE MAN BURNS” might be the closest they come to attending Burning Man. For others it might be their first introduction to this amazing place. For Burners, I hope the play might be a catalyst for them to further discuss their own experiences and stories.

Photo by Lindsey Sterrett
Photo by Lindsey Sterrett

…I decided to rededicate myself to only telling stories that mattered–to me, and hopefully to others. I wanted to dream big–bigger than ever before. The concept for THE MAN BURNS came to me about a week later. And this has been my dream ever since.

Early artist rendering of THE MAN BURNS set
Early artist rendering of THE MAN BURNS set

I have been developing the story and working on “THE MAN BURNS” for the past three years.There is still more work to be done to get the play up and running…I will be counting on the passion of tight knit community of artists to help bring this dream alive on a limited budget.

Any money raised beyond my goal will pay for more faux fur rugs. I’m only half joking. The design of the inside of the yurt is based on I Dream of Jeannie’s bottle and needs to be as ornate as possible. And more tapestries to decorate the set. And more fake playa dust to fly through the yurt door whenever someone opens it. It will also be used to give the creative team more options to create a bigger, better evening. We would also be able to perform the play for more than one night in each city. We’d like to put more items on the clothes exchange rack. And more importantly, paying the creative team a little better for all of their hard work. All of the money will be up their on the stage. So if you can afford to donate generously, please do. The more money the more elaborate the production.

Photo by Mick Jeffries
Photo by Mick Jeffries

I’ve written the play. …Kickstarter is an all or nothing proposition–if I don’t reach my goal I don’t receive any of the funds donated. This is a dream that can’t happen without you.

photo by Lindsey Sterrett
photo by Lindsey Sterrett

Please Consider Helping Chris Wallace’s Widow

RIP Chris Wallace

RIP Chris Wallace

Chris Wallace was the man who died on the fire at Utah’s Element11 regional burn on Saturday. His family have started an online campaign to help pay for the funeral and end of life costs. They have asked that rather than sending flowers or condolences, the best thing the Burner community could do would be to help out with a donation of $35 (or whatever you can afford to give).

Burners in Utah can also go to a public fundraiser on Friday the 18th, a Gallery Show from 6-8pm at Mod-A-Go-Go, 242 E South Temple Salt Lake City. This is being put on by Chris’ wife’s sister.

gallery show chris wallaceJohn Christopher Wallace passed on Saturday July 12th unexpectedly. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to help his wife pay for a funeral & end of life costs.

Chris was a great person with wide impact. On Saturday July 12th, Chris passed from this world at the “Burning Man” Element 11 event in Utah. His wife and family are still dealing with the shock and sadness of this news. 

Chris did not have life insurance, and any funds you may be able to contribute toward his funeral, and end-of-life costs is a great blessing…The financial situation of his widow is VERY uncertain—no one plans for these type of tragedies.


chris and his wifeThis link will take anyone who is interested to a page where they can donate to Chris’s funeral, memorial, and end-of-life costs. 

I’m sending this…with the hope that you can somehow give this information to the burner community, while pleading that anyone who responds to the knowledge of this link is respectful, non-speculative, and understanding that Chris’s loved ones may always be searching for closure relating to this unfortunate event.

[Chris' wife] is going to be destitute—health issues prevent her from being able to work full time & Chris was the bread winner.

Please be respectful to the family’s wishes. If you really feel the need to radically express yourself with nasty comments or personal opinions about this tragedy, you can add them to the discussion at the original story here. I will be deleting them from this page, as Chris’s family are in more than enough pain already, and still trying to process the terrible events of the weekend.

Nothing can bring Chris back, but maybe the Burner community can help out a little, and show the family that there is more to us than snark and armchair speculation. I have checked it out, believe it to be legitimate, and have donated.

Anderson Mobile Estates. Photo credit: Peter Ruprecht

The Grand Burners.Me Ho-tell

This is the 1000th post on this blog, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to reflect a bit.

The official Burning blog has 1,771 posts. Their first two are from September, 2001, and liken the explosion of fire and dust of Burning Man to the collapse of the World Trade Center, asking if the images we saw were just another Hollywood special effect.

Writer Jon Fox said:

Burning Man has become another symbol of home — an androgynous man who presides over his domain, welcoming weary travelers every year. The only constant being his own fiery destruction…

This city, immense in scope was built purely on the spirit of all that works about humanity. Black Rock City is about possibility; about creating from within for no other reason than because we can. It is about art and connection; about freedom, peace, adventure and destruction as a release of that which binds us. There is no time, no money, no politics, no good, and no evil. There is what there is and it is all brought in by the citizens of the city, for when there is no city, there is nothing. Each person brings a gift, whether an engraved necklace with a picture of the man, or a song, or back rub or drink of water. Why? If you ask, you don’t understand.

The very nature of the event attracts the truly greatest specimens of humanity, for only the truly gifted would be prepared enough and interest in taking on the harsh desert environment to create a gift as magical as a city that is not there.

photo credit: International Arts Megacrew

photo credit: International Arts Megacrew

…So when I see the destruction of today and what is truly possible when a small group of people so committed to something make it happen, I take pause. If this faceless group, so committed to destruction can accomplish what we, safe and sound in America never thought possible, I shudder to think what’s possible if another group did so out of freedom, peace, love and creativity.

Burning Man is indeed a miracle and is something that we shall be thankful for forever and ever. In two short weeks, I have seen all that is good about humanity, as strange and perverse as so-called “normal” people would have us (remember, we’re the weird ones) and all that is bad.

So, I watch my physical home covered in dust and smoke and think of my (meta)physical home all covered in dust and smoke. One explosions over turned by another and the eerie similarity of the two scenes. The background is different. The foreground is different. But somewhere, deep inside at the hottest part of the fire, they overlap. It’s is in here I stand and know that everything is still alright as long as we are all creating and we are doing so together

As you can see, even 13 years ago, in the face of the greatest tragedy America has ever experienced, Burning Man’s self-importance takes center stage.

Bizarrely, the very first words on their very first post are “September 1, 2001″. This was during Burning Man, describing the attacks ten days before they happened. It’s titled “Tale of Two Cities”, by FreshieDoug.

photo credit: Ray Mikota

photo credit: Ray Mikota

The tears swell in my eyes thinking of those who lie dead covered in the dust from a modern marvel that took years to build, but only minutes to destroy. The dust is reminiscent of the playa, a side effect of our own actions out there that is as much a recurring reminder that we have our weaknesses and limitations, as it is a nuisance in the daily living. The dust from the playa brought tears to my eyes, tears of joy from the awaking of my spirit within. The dust I witnessed on the tube 3000 miles away brought only tears of sorrow and pain.

Should I put a picture side by side of the two events? They both look similar, a white cloud that looms close to the earth carrying particles that test the human strength and endurance. Should such an identical image from each event be found, it is unimaginable that the spirit underlying be as opposite from each other as possible. One place, the center of the world, the other as desolate as one can get in our country. In a white out they both look the same.

Either the first words they ever wrote on their blog were a lie, or this is evidence of a vast and deep conspiracy. I’m going to go with the former, given the number of other lies, exaggerations and mis-statements we’ve heard from BMOrg over the years.  Hitler’s propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels said:

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”


photo from Funologist

I’m no Paragon of Virtue, but I’m also not a liar. I am a life-long student of organizational behavior, which mixes business theory and psychology. Propaganda is an established technique for population control, and the few dozen people employed full-time by BMOrg’s 6 (?) founders have a big population to control. Thousands of volunteers, some of whom have put in tens of thousands of hours to the event. The citizens of Black Rock City, all 68,000 69,613 of them last year. The broader community of people who “Like” Burning Man on Facebook, as I write this: 601,666.  The total population of Burners, the cumulative amount of people who have attended the party since it began almost 30 years ago on Baker Beach in 1986: 657,493. Obviously, some of these numbers overlap, but in recent years it has become clear that BMOrg have a deliberate policy of “out with the old, in with the new”. 36.5% were Virgins in 2012, 40% in 2013. 70% have been 2 or fewer times. BMOrg are able to shape these numbers, because their system of Burner profiles and STEP forces Burners to declare how many times they’ve been, before being lucky enough to get chosen by some invisible black box to get tickets.

In just under 2 and a half years, Burners.Me’s online community has grown to 55,200 (Facebook), 1271 (Twitter), and 586 (WordPress) – a total of 57,057. We’re now the second biggest online community of Burners in the world, neck and neck with mobile Burning Man sound camp and East Coast warehouse ravers Robot Heart: 56,956 (Facebook) and 588 (Twitter), total 57,544. We’re bigger than the Burning Man party itself ever has been (56,149), with the exception of last year when the population cap was increased by the BLM to 70,000. Our posts are frequently in WordPress’s Top 100, and some weeks our reach on Facebook exceeds half a million people.

This audience has been built by sharing opinions about stories related to Burner culture found on the Internet, rather than propaganda, deception, and the pursuit of commerce.

We’ve been accused of bias, and I can accept that: we are biased towards the truth. Often this positions us against BMOrg, but that doesn’t mean we’re against Burning Man. You see, I don’t believe that BMOrg makes the party. I believed them when they said “no spectators”, and it’s clear to me – as I’ve tried repeatedly to demonstrate here – that Burners are the ones who make the party.

trollWe’ve been accused of lying, and this I vehemently dispute. Any time a member of the online shill and troll army accuses Burners.Me of disinformation or falsehood, I ask them to prove it. Or even, just to give us a specific example of it. They always vanish into the ether, or hijack the thread with ad hominem attacks. Yet the meme persists, “Burners.Me is a disinformation site, Burners.Me is just like the National Enquirer”. Ask yourself why is that, and where does it come from? I’m just a guy on the Internet, I have no inside knowledge of whatever happens at Burning Man, but what gets published on this blog is true – and we provide references to our sources. If it’s speculation, or unsubstantiated rumor, we say that; this doesn’t mean that we publish unfounded speculation or simply any rumor that hits our inbox. If a source asks to remain anonymous, we respect that; if something sounds untrue, we do our best to verify it. Believe me, there’s plenty that we haven’t published.

photo credit: Aaron Muszalski

photo credit: Aaron Muszalski

There was one post that turned out not to happen, “Busting Man: RIOT calls for general strike at Burning Man”. Was there really a group of disgruntled DPW volunteers out on the Playa, ready to strike over the excessive police presence? I think there was, but I wasn’t there at the time myself to verify it first hand. Certainly, the police presence last year was stronger than ever, with sniffer dogs being brought in from the US border. Business Insider said “Federal Agents Swarming Burning Man”, Boing Boing said “the pigs are here”, even BMOrg’s own blog spoke of “Holy War”. Although a strike was avoided, right after the event BMOrg suddenly settled their lawsuit and caved to all Pershing County’s demands for money. I’m pretty sure the heavy handed police tactics were a contributing factor to that, we’ll see if things are any better this year. The author of that piece, Whatsblem The Pro from Reno,  has not written for Burners.Me since December 2013, and despite his threats at the time that “your traffic will be nothing without me”, has not written anything at his own Burner blog either.

The haters are vocal, but the Likers are clearly in the majority.

It’s always amusing to me that Burners.Me gets accused of making things up or lying, when all we’ve done since the beginning is expose lies and hypocrisy of others. BMOrg used to be a sacred cow, magically above criticism. Anyone in the community who spoke out against them could expect to be shunned or publicly attacked. Steven Jones, aka Scribe, was openly critical of BMOrg’s stated plans to become a non-profit in his column at the SF Bay Guardian. In the face of all the online backlash, he retreated and penned a piece “how I learned to stop worrying and just trust Larry” – which was promoted in the BRC Weekly.

1998 ticketI have been to Burning Man 11 times now, and always enjoyed it. The first time I went was 1998. Officially, there were 10,000 people there; it seemed more like 7 or 8 thousand. There were some art cars, some naked people, some big art, and some theme camps. There was a lot of fire. Mostly, though, there was a sense of camaraderie – that we had all made this journey to the middle of nowhere, into about the harshest conditions you can find in the United States, just to be together. Just for the purpose of a party. You could walk up to anyone and talk to them, you could walk into any camp site and be welcomed. People would offer you things purely from a spirit of hospitality; there was no Principle that said Gifting was required. The ticket said “no spectators”, but the event itself was less of a spectacle, and more just a bunch of people camping in tents and RV’s. After the Man burned, people used to throw their own things into the bonfire – sometimes even their entire camp, wooden structures built to live in for a week and then destroyed. The idea of “letting go of the past” that is now associated with the Temple, was associated with throwing objects with symbolic meaning onto the blazing pile that was the remains of The Man. There was a real anti-establishment celebration of freedom to the event. We were burning The Man, we had come all this way to get away from The Man and do whatever we want without adult supervision. It felt like a crowd, maybe even a big village, but not a city.

Today, it is a counter-culture phenomenon. It’s most definitely bigger and more city-like. There is an airport and a census, there are hundreds of art cars and thousands of theme camps. There are billionaires and celebrities and Presidential candidates. The Esplanade has become so crowded it’s hard to cycle through it – last year, even the Playa itself between Esplanade and Man was getting crowded. The event has its own language, customs, and rules. There are Ten Principles for Burners to memorize, and castigate others with. There are adults who have been going since they were small children, they have literally grown up living in Black Rock City. It has been wonderful to watch this explosion of culture and innovation.

However, I am under no illusions that anyone is changing the world here. It’s a party, if you go for reasons other than the music, you still can’t deny that the music is a major component of the event. Just like the drugs are a major component: anyone who thinks the majority of the people there don’t consume any illegal drugs is clearly on drugs themselves. It’s a rave, and in terms of area, the world’s biggest. It’s an art festival, but not of contemporary art like Art Basel or the Venice Biennale. A third of Burners consider themselves artists. Burning Man has been called “the Special Olympics of Art”. Larry Harvey likes to boast “no artist has ever put their name on a piece at Burning Man”. Although this is not true, it is indicative of Burning Man’s place in the art world. The after-market for Burning Man art is small, and large sculptures with electro-mechanical components that have been exposed to the harsh alkaline environment of the Playa are more likely to deteriorate in value than appreciate.

Republican-Burning-ManI have no particular ax to grind with BMOrg, somebody needs to organize this event and pay the cops. Are the 17  members of the Board of Directors the ideal stewards to bring our culture to the rest of the planet? I don’t think so. The whole thing is shrouded in secrecy, and it seems like the potential for conflicts of interest is high. Their previous charity, the Black Rock Arts Foundation, has a terrible track record of money raised versus money given away. The Founders are cashing out, and their succession planning is unclear. Many changes have been “coming soon” for years. As they “transition to a non-profit”, it seems like the structure and operations of the organization are becoming more similar to conventional profit-making corporate groups. Like Google and Apple, they use multiple companies governed under one umbrella to reduce their tax bill, maybe even avoid it entirely. Many of the core long-term members of the BMOrg team (eg. Andie Grace, Joseph Pred) have left over the last couple of years. The new generation, like Burning Man’s globe trotting Social Alchemist Bear Kittay, are unproven as leaders. Do the self-indulgent, entitled Millenials even get Burner culture? Can they? Or does all Burner culture worldwide have to change into what Burning Man’s 70% n00bz think Burning Man is today, just because the population of this one annual party is ageing?

I firmly believe that what we’ve collectively created at Burning Man over almost three decades is something amazing. A celebration of human ingenuity, at once funny and inspiring and maddening. Elon Musk complained about the hilarious new Mike Judge TV show “Silicon Valley”, saying “to really understand Silicon Valley, go to Burning Man”. In a way that’s true, but wouldn’t it be great if Silicon Valley WAS like Burning Man? A couple of public sculptures here and there aren’t enough. The Bay Lights cost $8 million, including $1.6 million from WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg. Now the lights have to come down, and they are trying to raise $20 million to put them back up. Think about how much “Burner Art” could be displayed in towns around America and the world, permanently, for that kind of money – benefitting the towns, the artists, and the culture.

google-bus-640-craig-frost-twitter_large_verge_medium_landscapeRight now, Silicon Valley is in the midst of a class warfare battle with the people of San Francisco. Larry Harvey has claimed Burning Man was the impetus for the shift of the tech industry’s capital from Palo Alto in the South, the heart of the Valley, to the city itself. Many people in the city don’t like this latest “tech boom”, and their protests have included slashing tires on Google trucks, bashing glassholes, and puking all over Yahoo buses.

If Burning Man, and Burner culture, could play a part in solving these social problems then maybe there is something good for the world in this. Maybe it is “more than just a party”. Shooting the messenger is not the answer, neither is selling more merchandise. I really appreciate everyone who has read this page and shared their own thoughts and comments, whether they agree with me or not, they are contributing to a conversation about Burner culture that is on the digital record. I’d particularly like to thank repeat commenters Nomad Traveler, A Balanced Perspective, T_Groan, Burner Jim, Senor Spamdump, Blues Bob, Piko, Toburn. And a special giant thanks to our cartoonist Christopher, who has shared his work for free.

Will I keep spending my time and money to give you another 1000 posts about Burning Man for free? I don’t know if I can write another 1000 posts about Burning Man, we’ll see. “If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans”, said Woody Allen. For the time being, I will continue to share my opinions about Burner culture. You don’t have to agree, you don’t even have to read. As they say at That Thing In The Desert: “if you don’t like it, start your own!”


Ice Stand Corrected

This one’s great. Makes perfect sense, it was a new tip for me. I was using ice trays the wrong way, now I know.

Spread the word, we need more ice on 4th of July weekend.

Re-blogged from Foodhack:

In fact, not only does hot water chill quicker, many people think it produces a better quality ice cube. And while ice is an afterthought for most folks, people who are serious about their beverages, alcoholic and otherwise, know that ice matters. After all, as it melts, it flavors what you’re drinking, whether said beverage is vodka or water.

A high-quality “boiled” ice cube vs. a regular “cold water” ice cube. Amazing, right?

Image by isr_Raviv/Instructables

Thanks to Burner Danceburgh AfterDark, who breaks it down in simple terms for us:

it’s got to be pretty hot water, up around boiling temp, near 200 when your average household water temp sis more in the 130-140 range. ANd you lose some to evaporation, which evaporates and condenses all over your freezer …

Back to the Foodhack story:

How Does This Even Work?

The phenomenon of hot water turning into ice faster than cold water is known as the Mpemba effect, named after a Tanzanian student who observed his hot ice cream mix freezing more rapidly than the cold version.

Separating homemade ice cream into ice cube trays also speeds up freezing.

Image by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt/Serious Eats

recent study by Xi Zhang, Zengsheng Ma, and Chang Q Sun at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, helps shine some light on a possible reason why this phenomenon occurs.

A water molecule is made up of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom which are bound together by the sharing of electrons, known as a covalent bond. Water molecules are then connected to each other by intermolecular forces known as hydrogen bonds, which happens when a hydrogen atom from one water molecule is near an oxygen atom from another.

H2O: Just one big happy family.

Image via Lightbulb Books

As you can see from the above illustration, the three atoms together form an angle. A hydrogen bond is the result of this structure and is responsible for giving water its unique life-giving properties and its ability to expand when frozen.

According to the Nanyang study, these bonds are behind the Mpemba effect, when hydrogen bonds do their job and bring water molecules into close contact. However, the molecules have a natural repulsion to one another. This action by the hydrogen bonds makes the covalent bonds move apart and store energy.

As liquid is heated, the hydrogen bonds stretch and water molecules are forced to be farther apart. Correspondingly, the covalent bonds within the water atoms shrink and lose energy. This process is akin to cooling off.

On a molecular level, this water is already cooled off. Seriously.

Image via The Dabblist

Essentially, hot water already closely resembles cool water on a molecular level. The energy in hot water is wound up so tightly that when it is released, it cools and freezes faster than cold water.

How Much Faster Does Hot Water Freeze?

It’s hard to say. Water reaches its freezing point at 0° C (32° F), but the time it takes reach this point may vary. It’s difficult to estimate how much faster ice cubes will form with hot water because many variables must be considered—the initial temperature of the water, the volume of water, and the temperature of the freezer.

Where’s Iceman when you need him?

Image via Tim Graves

Regardless, heating filtered water to a boil will definitely speed up the freezing process. Some even say that hot water makes for cleaner and clearer ice cubes, while others swear by using ice coolers or various methods other than using hot water (including the slow freeze and DIY ice cube trays inside an insulated cooler).

One thing is clear: if you want your ice cubes sooner rather than later, throw it in the freezer as soon as you can pour it into the containers without melting the plastic.

If you live somewhere exceptionally chilly, you can just throw the boiling water off your balcony like these guys.

While you may not be able to instantaneously freeze water, you can perform an at-home experiment with two separate ice trays, and try this method out with cool and hot water. The worst thing that can happen is that you have two trays of ice cubes ready to be utilized.

Just a couple words of caution when using hot water for ice cubes—use BPA-free plastic trays, stainless steel, or silicone ones. Studies have shown that hot water can cause BPA leaching in certain plastics not rated as BPA-free.


Nikola Bregovic

Nikola Bregovic

Thanks Mpemba. The Royal Society had a competition to explain the effect, which 22,000 scientists entered. It was won by Nikola Bregovic of Zagreb, the capital of Croatia.

The history of the Mpemba, in fact, goes out the back of Bacon. That’s right Burners. Happy fourth.


From Aristotle to Mpemba

The phenomenon by which, under certain conditions, hot water freezes faster than cold water has been observed by some of the world’s finest minds, and has been used in everyday life for centuries.

In the 4th Century BC, Aristotle observed that “The fact that the water has previously been warmed contributes to it’s freezing quickly: for so it cools sooner. Hence many people, when they want to cool water quickly, begin by putting it in the sun”.

Roger Bacon in the 13th Century  used the effect to advocate the scientific method in his Opus Majus, while in his 1620 Novum Organum, Francis Bacon wrote that “slightly tepid water freezes more easily than that which is utterly cold”. Rene Descartes also tried to solve the problem in 1637 and through the years, many scientists have attempted to explain it with little success.


Erasto Mpemba

In 1963, the question was catapulted back into the public eye when a young Tanzanian boy called Erasto Mpemba noticed that if he put hot ice-cream mix into the freezer, it froze more quickly than the cooled ice-cream mix of his fellow classmates. 

Mpemba’s tenacity in the face of his teacher’s initial dismissal of his observations and the ridicule of his classmates prompted him to repeat the experiment with hot and cold water, and to stand up and ask visiting physics lecturer Denis Osborne about the phenomenon.

In 1969, Mpemba and Osborne published a paper together (See “Cool?” in the box below), and the effect became known as The Mpemba Effect. In August 2012 Osborne had the following to say about his work with Mpemba:

“In line with his question made in front of his school staff and peers, we tested and found that hot water in Pyrex beakers on polystyrene foam in a domestic freezer froze before cooler samples. We attributed this to convection creating a continuing hot top, noting that:

  1. If two systems are cooled, the water that starts hotter may freeze first, but we did not look for ice and measured the time as that until a thermocouple in the water read 0°C.
  2. A graph of ‘time to start freezing’ against initial temperature showed that the water starting at about 26°C took longest to freeze (water starting at 60°C took twice as long as water starting at 90°C).
  3. Thermocouples near top and bottom showed a temperature gradient in the water. A hot starter kept a hot top while its lower levels were cooler than for the cool starter.
  4. An oil film on the water surface delayed freezing for several hours, suggesting that without this film, most of the heat escaped from the top surface.
  5. Changes in volume due to evaporation were small; the latent heat of vaporization for all the water to cool to 0°C and start freezing accounted for less than 30% of the cooling.
  6. We used recently boiled water for all the trials, making dissolved air an unlikely factor.

We failed to check and report the ambient temperature in the freezer or its consistency during cooling. Lower ambient air temperatures might increase heat loss rates from the top surface, cause more rapid convection and increase the difference in freezing times.

Different mechanisms may assume more importance in different situations. We gave one example, with Mpemba’s initial discovery in mind, and we wrote: ‘rapid cooling of a system that starts hot may be accelerated if it establishes thermal contact with the case of the freezer cabinet through melting the layer of ice and frost on which it rests’.”


Happy 4th of July to all Burners around the world