The Latest Trend on TikTok Is a Fatal One, and Experts Are Warning Against It

Fractal burning is one of the most lethal trends to come out of TikTok, but many users want to better understand what the trend actually is.


May 2 2022, Published 11:28 a.m. ET

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While there are plenty of harmless TikTok trends, there are also other trends that are hugely dangerous, especially when performed without the necessary expertise and safety precautions. The latest trend that is leading people to be hurt and killed is called fractal burning, and as news about the trend continues to spread, many want to know more about what it actually is.

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What is fractal burning on TikTok?

Recently, news broke that a couple in Wisconsin had died by electrocution after attempting a TikTok trend called fractal burning. Fractal burning is a process by which professionals use heat to burn different designs into pieces of wood. It's an incredibly cool process, but one that is also highly dangerous for people who are untrained.

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"This process is highly dangerous, and should only be done by trained professionals," police said of the process after the couple in Wisconsin was discovered. "Taking advice from YouTube or from any other social media site in order to do a craft item or some other artwork, is not safe when you’re dealing with electricity."

Police initially considered investigating the deaths as a homicide, before eventually concluding that the deaths were accidental.

Fractal burning has gained popularity on TikTok and other social media platforms.

More and more people have decided to try fractal burning because they've seen videos of others doing it on social media. Fractal burning is done by using jumper cables and disassembled microwave parts to run high amounts of electricity through pieces of wood soaked in a chemical solution. The high-voltage electricity makes the process hugely dangerous, and reports suggest that at least 33 people have died while attempting the technique.

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"You can see the potential danger that's there, when you're working with something like the power supply to a microwave," Chief Deputy Chad Billeb, from the Marathon County Sheriff's Office, said at a press conference yesterday.

In the case of the Wisconsin couple, a fire also broke out following the electrocution, and police believe that the fire was also caused by fractal burning.

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Users have warned against participating in the trend.

Even as videos featuring the trend have proliferated online, users have taken it upon themselves to warn others away from trying to replicate the videos. Users are correctly pointing out how dangerous the trend is, reminding those who see the videos that this is emphatically not the kind of thing that users should try at home.

There are plenty of videos that highlight cool techniques, and many of those videos also make the techniques look fairly easy and approachable to replicate. Unfortunately, these processes are often a lot more cumbersome and tricky than they look, and in worst case scenarios, they can also be more dangerous.

In the case of fractal burning, it's a technique best left to people who have been trained and know what they're doing. If you're thinking about trying fractal burning yourself and you have no expertise, you should try a new dance trend instead.

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