I’m not talking about barking, but I’m also not sure the groovy pastime I’m about to describe is actually spelled “woofing.” That’s what the word sounded like when I first heard it back in 1990, but I’ve never seen it written down. I just spent twenty minutes or so clicking all over various search engines, but all I’ve found is a couple million pages about dogs and people who look like them. I tried “whuffing” and “whoofing,” which did at least turn up some references to fire, but also led me to “huffing,” which is definitely not the direction I wanted to go.
While I find it impossible to believe that no one has described or demonstrated the art I call woofing on the Web yet, I also can’t find any pages or videos of people sitting around in the dark with a glass Sparkletts bottle, a fifth of 151-proof rum, a yard of aquarium tubing, and a large supply of matches. If that’s really true, it’s my obligation to rectify the situation. Woofing is fun, legal, and not necessarily dangerous.
First, you have to get your hands on one of those old glass five-gallon Sparkletts bottles. (Please don’t try this with a plastic one.) Then get a yard or so of plastic aquarium tubing, a bottle of 151-proof rum or 90% isopropyl alcohol, plenty of matches, some friends to impress, and wait until dark.
Ready? Pour a jigger or two of the alcohol into the Sparkletts bottle. Swirl it around to coat the sides. Insert one end of the tubing into the bottle. Blow into the other end to add oxygen. Strike a match and drop it into the bottle. If you’re lucky and the mixture of air and alcohol is right, you’ll achieve your first woof. If you aren’t lucky, don’t be discouraged. Keep swirling the alcohol around, adding oxygen, and tossing matches in. Eventually, you’ll find out why woofing got its name, and you’ll also see why you shouldn’t put your face too close to the neck of the bottle when you drop in a lighted match.
Once you’ve achieved a good woof, you need to add oxygen. Three lungfuls is usually enough for a five-gallon bottle, but you’ll have to experiment. Things definitely get more exciting as the bottle warms up.
Maybe someday I’ll have a video to share, but for now, the accompanying photos are all I’ve got to give you an idea of how much incendiary fun you can have with a few inexpensive ingredients. Not only will you delight all your pyromaniac friends, you’ll also entertain those who enjoy making jokes about “big bongs.”
Click on the images below to get an idea of how pretty a good woof can be: