Premier Date: June 2, 2010
First, the MythBusters attempted the myth exactly as it appeared on the show, by firing a taser at a coat covered in pepper spray. This failed to achieve combustion. Next, the MythBusters decided to analyze the individual parts of the myth. They studied a taser and discovered that it created sparks when in operation, providing a possible ignition source. They then tested various pepper spray brands for flammability. While 2 of 5 brands did not react, the other 3 combusted violently due to their use of flammable propellant. Next, the flammability of various clothing materials was tested. The MythBusters determined that acrylic fiber was the most flammable. They then combined all three aspects of the myth and managed to ignite a pepper-covered acrylic shirt with a taser. However, the flame was not as intense as that seen on CSI, so the MythBusters used a significantly larger amount pepper spray to achieve the same effect. Since the myth required a number of alterations to achieve, the MythBusters settled on a “plausible” result. To end on a bang, Jamie incinerated a dummy using a flamethrower.
The Build Team first tested various high powered fireworks to see which ones could generate the most thrust. However, they discovered that none of the fireworks commercially available in the United States could lift a person in the numbers stated in the myth. To solve this problem, the Build Team decided to duplicate more powerful European made fireworks and found them suitable for their needs. During the full scale test, Buster managed to successfully launch off the ramp, but quickly lost control and fell into the lake well short of 150 feet. Although Buster would have survived the launch, the fact that the rig didn’t work and that any amateur’s attempt would not meet the same quality led the Build Team to reluctantly bust the myth.
(*This myth was revisited in Revenge of the Myths and, except for the safe landing, was declared “confirmed.”)