The Yellow Powder

a fine dry yellow powder


This is a fine dry yellow powder. It is non-toxic, and has no appreciable taste. It is very flammable, so it is a fine addition to a wad of tinder. Firestarting is much easier when this powder is included in the mix.

Cast into flames at night, it bursts into a brilliant whitish blaze that fades. It can be packed into a small tube through which a shaman blows out past a twig holding a tiny flame, making it a great “fire-breathing” special effect.

Shamans pass on the secret of its making. It is considered a trade secret.


The source of this powder is kept a secret. It actually comes from club moss, ‘lycopodium’. The pods are picked and allowed to dry. At some point, they release the powdery gamete-holding particles. (Lycopodium powder can’t grow into plants; they are, much like pollen, just the male part.)

In the 1800’s, this substance was known as “Vegetable Sulfur”. It was used by photographers, who set off a small explosion with magnesium to ignite this stuff. The holder was a narrow metal tray with a handle, with a wire igniter ending in a ring, arranged like a letter T.

Today, stage magicians still use this stuff. It’s sold under the cool-sounding name “Dragon’s Breath” for $6 an ounce.

The Yellow Powder