When performing this trick, magicians destroy a light bulb or a piece of glass and eat it in front of their audience. I will explain how this trick is done, why it’s so dangerous, and show a safe alternative.
To answer your questions straight away: Can magicians and other performers eat glass, and is it real?
Some performers are actually able to eat real glass, by chewing the pieces until there is only fine powder left, allowing them to swallow it safely. However, most of the artists use fake glass made out of sugar.
I will explain both methods, using fake and real glass, but before we get into that, let me clarify one thing first:
Don’t try to eat real glass! Even professionals hurt themselves when doing this trick, and the chances to cut your mouth are very high! I only explain this trick to those who are interested in how it’s done, not for those who want to perform it themselves.
Please note: I've included a safe method at the end of this article, in case you want to do this trick yourself.
How to do the trick using stage glass
Now, to be honest, this method is pretty obvious and there’s not that much to say about it, but I still wanted to mention it.
Using fake glass is the easiest and safest way to perform a trick like this, and it’s used pretty often.
Especially in TV, bigger shows, stage magic, and other big events, fake class is commonly used when performing this illusion. It’s a safe way of wowing the audience – and while some might call the trick “fake” because of the stage glass – this method is the way to go when working with non-professionals.
Well, since we’ve got that out of the way, let’s get to why you are actually here:
I’ll explain how eating real, broken glass is done.
How magicians can eat real glass or light bulbs – the magic trick explained
First things first: Yes, it’s possible to eat real glass and some performers actually do it. They use the same technique for eating light bulbs as well.
Does that mean that you can do it? No. So don’t try, no matter how easy it looks.
Here’s a famous video of David Blaine eating glass in front of Jeff Bezos.
For his performance, he’s using a borrowed wine glass. While it could be fake, it’s very unlikely and if you know Blaine, you wouldn’t expect him to use fake glass for a trick like this.
Even though David Blaine makes it look very easy, almost boring as if it was a normal thing to casually eat some glass – it’s not. It requires a lot of practice and usually some preparation as well.
If you want to learn more about how David Blaine is able to eat real glass, you can check my post explaining his technique right here.
By the way, this trick is sometimes performed with a light bulb as well. Some performers even ask the audience to bring their own glass or light bulbs and eat them live on stage.
How glass eating is done: the technique
Now, I won’t give you a full how-to guide on eating glass, but you’ll get a pretty good idea of how it works.
In short, you first chew the bigger pieces of glass without using your tongue at all (if possible), since you’ll otherwise cut yourself very fast. When you’ve grinned the glass down into really small pieces, you can actually swallow it.
It might sound not that hard, but many things can go very wrong.
Possible preparation for this trick
This preparation isn’t necessary, but it can make eating glass a little easier and reduce the risk of getting hurt.
Right before the performance, some actors like to eat butter or other kinds of fat that will act as a lubricant. It’s not tasty, but the fat will help when trying to maneuver the glass inside the mouth and when swallowing the chewed pieces as well.
Other than that, having some water around is a great idea.
You can’t use your tongue to move the glass in your mouth
As soon as you put a piece of glass in your mouth, you can cut every single part of it, including your tongue, your gum, and everything else. The problem is that the edges of the glass are extremely sharp once it’s broken.
So even by just putting a broken piece of glass in your mouth without even chewing on it, you can get hurt very badly.
We are used to maneuvering food around in our mouth with the tongue, but you can’t do that with glass, because you will instantly cut yourself. If possible, the piece of glass has to be put flat on your teeth using your hands, so you don’t have to use your tongue at all.
Chewing the glass without getting hurt
The only way to actually swallow the glass is by chewing it first. Otherwise, the pieces are way to large and the sharp edges will cause some serious damage if you just swallow them right away.
So, in order to chew the glass, you have to lay it straight on your teeth – horizontally – when putting it in your mouth. This way, you can grind the piece of glass using only your teeth, without even touching it with your tongue.
How it's done When magicians chew the glass, the only use their teeth, since these can't get hurt. If the glass would touch their tongue or their gum, they would cut themselves immediately.
Even larger pieces can be chewed safely with the proper technique. The glass has to be put in between the molar teeth with your hand manually because you don’t want to use your tongue at all to reposition it.
Now, just keep grinding the piece again and again, until they are small enough to swallow them safely. This is the most important part of the technique and professionals spend many years learning and improving it.
If you don’t know what you are doing, you can hurt yourself badly and cause some serious internal damage to your body when swallowing the glass.
I won’t explain this method in detail, because it requires the assistance of a professional performer when learning it. Don’t try this yourself!
Swallowing and digesting the glass
The trick isn’t over when a performer puts a piece of glass in his mouth and starts chewing on it. This is when the trick starts.
After properly chewing the glass, he has to swallow and digest it. If the pieces are small enough, they can usually be swallowed safely and won’t cause any internal damage to the body.
However, you never have the guarantee that things work out how you would like them to – and if anything goes wrong, you might have an injure that stays for the rest of your life.
How dangerous is eating glass?
If the pieces of glass are crushed to the point where they are a fine powder before swallowing them, they usually don’t cause any damage and can pass through your system without causing any problems within 24 – 48 hours.
In case you swallow glass pieces with sharp edges, the consequences are devastating. Your entire digestive system will most likely be damaged, maybe even for the rest of your life.
Doing this trick always includes the risk of getting lifelong, irreversible injures.
If you want to perform an illusion like this yourself, scroll down and you will find a short explanation of how you can do this trick safely.
Eating light bulbs: How it’s done
When magicians or other performers eat light bulbs, most of them use a fake one made out of sugar glass. If they perform this trick with a real light bulb, it has to be chewed carefully until the pieces are small enough to swallow.
Just like with glass, most of the light bulbs used for performances are probably fake. However, some magicians have done this trick live with a borrowed light bulb. In this case, the same techniques as when eating glass apply.
The light bulb is destroyed by crushing it into several pieces and the magician picks one of them.
The secret is to chew the piece until it’s basically only powder, and all sharp edges are eliminated.
After that, it can be swallowed and digested pretty safely.
How you can perform the glass eating trick yourself – without getting hurt
After taking a look at the possible damage when eating glass, there’s only one way to perform this trick safely: Using fake glass.
In case you don’t know, you can make “sugar glass” that looks and behaves like real glass, but it consists of sugar, some syrup, and water. This fake glass can also be colored and you can even add flavored extracts to make it taste better.
Using real glass is not an option, this is the only way to perform a trick like this safely!
In case you want to check out how this can be done, here’s a tutorial I’ve found: https://www.inthekitchenwithmatt.com/edible-sugar-glass.
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