Let’s start with the obvious: Elon Musk is an interesting man. He proposed “warming up” Mars for human habitation by dropping thermonuclear weapons on it. He wants to alleviate Los Angeles’ traffic congestion by building tunnel networks below the city and using them to transport cars on high-speed electric sleds. He just sent one of his own $100,000 cars into space, presumably for the same reason that you used to melt G.I. Joes as a kid — because he could.
(We’re not buying the whole “experimental payload” line. Please. You wanted to shoot a car into space, and it’s fine. It’s your rocket.)
In a way, Elon Musk is the tech equivalent of the previous century’s big-game hunters. He’s always on the hunt for the next big trophy, the one that stops people in their tracks, the one people say he’s crazy to even attempt. Some of his “exploits” have no perceived value to anyone, but they make the rest of us want to get out there and do something equally daring. Or maybe 50 percent as daring. Because we don’t have anything like his bail money.
The flamethrower is being marketed by Musk’s new side hustle, an outfit called The Boring Company. Despite being priced at $500 (or maybe because of it), it only took five days for the first run of flamethrowers to be claimed by mayhem-makers around the globe.
These would-be Rambos may have to wait a while to get their new toys, however. Certain countries’ customs agencies have stated their objections to shipping anything labeled “flamethrower.”
Apparently, some customs agencies are saying they won’t allow shipment of anything called a “Flamethrower”. To solve this, we are renaming it “Not a Flamethrower”.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 2, 2018
In response, Musk floated a few name changes out on his Twitter, like “Not a Flamethrower” and “Temperature Enhancement Device.” And all the brosephs retweeted.
It only made the situation better when California Assemblyman Miguel Santiago intervened on this bro-fest in classic vice principal fashion, announcing his intention to introduce legislation to ban sales of the flamethrower in the state of California.
In response, Musk posted a faux-PSA on Instagram, showing himself running while lighting the flamethrower. The caption reads: “Don’t do this. Also, I want to be clear that a flamethrower is a super terrible idea. Definitely don’t buy one. Unless you like fun.”
And all the brosephs bowed down.
The flamethrower is drawing criticism from more than just party-pooper politicians. Many say it more resembles an Airsoft rifle that functions like a blowtorch, making for a certain buzzkill on those visions of Rambo grandeur.
Or maybe “Temperature Enhancement Device”
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 3, 2018
Whatever, man. It’s a handheld gun that shoots fire. So maybe it’s not a real flamethrower by the strictest definition. So maybe it doesn’t shoot as far as a certain Arizona-based company’s flamethrowers. There are still lots of ways to put the Boring Company’s latest to to good, even practical use. And we’ve highlighted our top five.
(And no, we don’t mean roasting nuts. That was a dumb joke, Elon. Stick to your strengths.)
No. 1: Home Security
Picture a burglar breaking into your house. Now picture yourself coming at that burglar from the top of the stairs, swinging a flaming rifle. It’s enough to scare any criminal straight. Even if you should hurt yourself in the effort (as is entirely likely with such reckless use of the flamethrower), no intruder wants to f*** with the guy writhing on the floor wrapped in flames. Not unless he’s as crazy as you are.
No.2: De-icing a Driveway
Salt ruins your wheel wells. Sand is a pain to clean up. Wouldn’t it be ideal if your driveway was just dry? Pop in your earbuds, put on some death metal, and go to town on that slab of concrete. That new “dad/husband/brother/roommate of the year” coffee mug is practically yours.
No. 3: In the Kitchen
Whether you’re finishing off a vat of creme brûlée, or adding some nice singe marks to an entire roasted pig, the flamethrower will give you Costco-level value for your time and effort. Love that smoked flavor effect in your cocktail? Treat the entire neighborhood by felling a tree, surrounding it with highball glasses filled with whisky, then unleashing the flame and quickly tenting it with a heavy-duty tarp. Wait about 60 seconds for the flavor to infuse, then finish with bitters and a twist. Be sure to save a couple for the firefighters when they show up.
No. 4: Clearing Unwanted Foliage
Honestly, this is probably why Assemblyman Santiago took such issue with the Boring Company’s flamethrower promotion. In the wake of the gnarliest wildfire season ever, a 6-foot jet of flame is the last thing a California homeowner needs for lawncare. But for those in more humectant climates, the flamethrower can make quick work out of Bermuda grass, kudzu vine, and that backyard vegetable garden that you sort of forgot about. Plus, it’s a well-known fact that soil pH, carbon, and nutrient levels increase after burning. So you’re not just saving time, you’re actually improving your yard. (Memorize that for when the homeowner’s association guy comes by.)
No. 5: Getting Attention
This may well have been the inspiration for the flamethrower sale in the first place. The Boring Company’s first venture was selling ball caps. Some speculate the flamethrower thing is just a way flashier ball cap, i.e., a stunt designed to raise visibility around Musk’s Boring Company. Because, you know, even Elon Musk is afraid of being forgotten about.
Point is, the whole point of a domestic flamethrower is to draw attention. We suggest undertaking any (or all) of the previous four uses on behalf of someone you’ve been working up the courage to talk to. De-ice their driveway. Clear their front garden out for spring planting. Think of it as a John Cusack holding the boombox over his head type of move, but way more practical. If they don’t appreciate it, they don’t deserve you.
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