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There are two types of dragons in the world today. Smaugs are bat-like lizards that can grow up to 30 feet, with a pair of arms and legs. They also sport a pair of large wings that allow them to fly. These dragons inhabit the western world. On the eastern side, a species of dragons called shenrons are dominant. These are serpentine lizards that can fly similar to how snakes move on the ground. Their forms grow upwards of 40 feet, but possess no limbs. Both of these types have the capability to breathe fire. Their bodies and internal organs are protected from their flames, guaranteeing that they are not harmed by their own abilities.

Dragons are hunted and skinned like regular animals, and then turned into items for humans. An industry has developed in which dragon-hide is turned into clothing, from coats to gowns to boots. It has been promoted that these items protect the user from fire, making them flame resistant. However, the individuals that have tested this theory after purchasing them died hideously hilarious deaths. They burned to a crisp, gaining no protection from the dragon-hide covering them.

Why would people not gain the flame-proof protection from dragon-related clothes?

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  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$ – Monty Wild Feb 13 at 11:19

23 Answers 23

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Apart from the fact that only the very rich and very few might actually get real dragon hide there are options.

  1. Dragon hide requires internal fluids in the epidermis to be fireproof
  2. Dragon hide needs constant replenishment of substance to stay fireproof, just like duck feathers lose their water-repellent properties rather quickly once "dead"
  3. Dragons are magical beings, and it's the magic within them that does the actual protection. The hide may still be a decent magical conductor, but that doesn't save you unless you can also cast fire protection on yourself
  4. People aren't dying, it's all a big propaganda campaign by Big Plate to stay in business
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    $\begingroup$ Or Big Chainmail $\endgroup$ – alexdriedger Feb 6 at 0:57
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    $\begingroup$ Or that the hide may be fireproof while the wearer is not. $\endgroup$ – Eric McCormick Feb 6 at 5:19
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    $\begingroup$ @alexdriedger big chainmail is just a subsidiary of big plate with the goal of generating a fake competition between both to increase engagement with the product $\endgroup$ – Hobbamok Feb 6 at 11:07
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    $\begingroup$ @Hobbamok stupid anti-armorers. i've told you many times, this dragon hide armor does work! you just never wear it properly! $\endgroup$ – michael griffin Feb 6 at 16:11
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    $\begingroup$ Are you suggesting some sort of phase-change/ablation cooling with the first point, or something else? $\endgroup$ – bobsburner Feb 7 at 9:21
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Human-sized garments aren't big enough to be effective heat sinks.

Dragons are much larger than humans. By the square-cube law, a dragon that's roughly 5 times the length of a human will have about 25 times as much skin, and 125 times as much mass. It's possible that dragon skin is a very effective conductor of heat, allowing otherwise dangerous, concentrated heat sources to harmlessly dissipate their heat over the dragon's entire body. Essentially, a dragon has a lot of thermal inertia, so it will be much more resistant to external fluctuations in temperature. A human, by comparison, has very little thermal inertia, and will heat up much faster (i.e. burn).

It's similar to throwing a big log into a fire, and seeing that it takes quite a few minutes to start to burn. If you throw a twig into that same fire, it will turn to ash in moments. Compared to dragons, humans are twigs. In a way, it's similar to how you can fry an ant with a magnifying glass, which would only cause a minor burn on a human - an ant wearing human-skin armor isn't going to fare any better.

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    $\begingroup$ +1. The human-skin-armored ants... I can't unsee them. $\endgroup$ – Wayne Feb 6 at 1:02
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    $\begingroup$ Human staves, in a conflagration. Or "tinder", I guess. $\endgroup$ – Will Crawford Feb 6 at 4:42
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    $\begingroup$ slightly off .. but true at the core - we learn from actual animals that larger mass changes the ratio between skin-area and body volume (small mice have way more skin compared to their volume than we humans - and elephants again have relatively less skin compared to their volume. This brings along problems of keeping body temperature for small animals (calculated minimum size for a mammal) while the bigger animals get problems with overheating $\endgroup$ – eagle275 Feb 6 at 12:35
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    $\begingroup$ @eagle275 Right, the square-cube law implies that the ratio of volume to surface area grows linearly with r, so smaller animals have comparatively more surface area than larger animals (relative to their own volume). A human will have a volume to area ratio of R=V/A, while a 5x as long dragon will have a ratio of 125V/25A, which is a ratio of 5R. $\endgroup$ – Nuclear Wang Feb 6 at 14:01
  • $\begingroup$ @NuclearWang Oddly enough, that last part also works in electrical units. 125V/25A = 5Ω, and people will often write Ω as R because who has a Ω key? $\endgroup$ – user253751 Feb 7 at 12:33
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The hide may not burn, but that is insufficient.

To truly protect the wearer, the hide must insulate them from the flames. For dragons, this insulation comes from some other aspect of their anatomy, such as a layer of fat or other tissue under the hide that is unsuitable for use in clothing. So the dragon hide would make a great blacksmith's apron, but won't stop you from being burned if immersed in flames.

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    $\begingroup$ Ha, this is a good one! You're burned to ash, but your clothing is still fine! Great for the resale market. $\endgroup$ – Michael W. Feb 5 at 22:58
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    $\begingroup$ Asbestos FTW!!! $\endgroup$ – RonJohn Feb 6 at 23:05
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    $\begingroup$ This sums it up nicely. Sure, dragonhide clothing can save you from being burned to a crisp; that is not at all the same as protecting you from being cooked alive inside the clothing. A rather disturbing situation, to be perfectly honest..... $\endgroup$ – Palarran Feb 8 at 2:06
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    $\begingroup$ Indeed, the dragon primarily needs protection from the flames that form in their mouth as they blow them, not flames from the outside. $\endgroup$ – Jan Hudec Feb 8 at 12:51
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The Hide isn't what makes dragons fireproof

Dragonhide is the untanned skin that is harvested from under the scales. It is a leather-product and as such somewhat flame resistant but not more heat resistant than other leather of its thickness.

hide noun (1)

Definition of hide (Entry 2 of 5)

1: the skin of an animal whether raw or prepared for use —used especially of large heavy skins Merriam-Webster

Dragons however are no relying on their skin to be fireproof, their scales are flame-deflecting and fireproof. They are pretty much ceramic in nature and shield the skin underneath by trapping an airgap between scale and skin. Once the scales are removed from the skin to get the easy workable dragonhide, the skin doesn't make you fireproof anymore. Well, it never was fireproof in the first place and all the blood vessels in it kept it cool under the insulating airgap when the Dragon got into fire himself!

Since working with dragonscales is a PITA as there are no drills able to add holes to them to create a dragonscale-scale armor, such armor is pretty much unheard off.

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    $\begingroup$ You can still wish for a silver dragon scale mail just fine - all you need to ensure is that your luck isn't negative. $\endgroup$ – John Dvorak Feb 5 at 22:52
  • $\begingroup$ How is this helping dragons' internal organs be fireproof? (That's a requirement in the question.) $\endgroup$ – AndyT Feb 6 at 13:27
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    $\begingroup$ Someone figured out a way to put holes in dragon scale. You have to Grind a hole through it. You need a slurry of vegetable oil and powdered dragon teeth and an oscillating bit. It takes quite a while but it can produce a controllable hole. $\endgroup$ – B540Glenn Feb 6 at 14:23
  • $\begingroup$ @AndyT Ceramic scales are bad head conductors and shield away the burning gas. The airgap under the scales psrotects the skin from the heat. $\endgroup$ – Trish Feb 7 at 16:22
  • $\begingroup$ Trish, you misunderstood my comment. The OP states "Their bodies and internal organs are protected from their flames, guaranteeing that they are not harmed by their own abilities." To me, this means that the dragons must have fire/heat within their body, and their body must be resistant to that. i.e. their lungs must be fireproof, their stomach must be fireproof, their heart must be fireproof. Ceramic scales on the outside of their hide could protect them from the flames of other dragons; they will not protect their internal organs from their own internal heat/flame. $\endgroup$ – AndyT Feb 7 at 16:41
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Surprise!

Dragons aren't fireproof. They developed their fire breathing abilities to fight each other.

Their own flames aren't produced inside their bodies, but rather when a chemical (gas or aerosolized liquid) combines with oxygen in the air. It's a hypergolic reaction between the stuff the dragons produce in a special gland and the oxygen in the air. Dragons just spray a burst of the stuff (and try not to get caught in the blow back) and it burns anything in its path.

Given that, there's no need for the dragon itself to be in any way especially fireproof.

Dragons fight each other for territory, and use flame to kill other dragons. That wouldn't work against fireproof dragons.

Your humans haven't figured that out, though. They assumed that dragons have to be fireproof to handle their own flames.

Never assume.

Some few brave (though stupid) souls tested the alleged fireproof qualities of dragon hides by wearing clothing made of them in a fire instead of intelligently exposing the hide to fire by itself.

Anybody with a lick of sense tests potentially lethal things in a non-lethal way, but humans aren't especially well known for being sensible.

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People are stupid

Ubiquitous stupidity is the reason why some food makers have eating instructions in snack bags. Without those their customers would surely die of hunger.

Most likely the hide is truly fireproof. If you wear dragonhide boots, for example, you will be able to walk on lava. You can step on lava in real life without harming yourself, mind you, if you have a caution.

However, idiots will be idiots and some will jump to the conclusion that since the boots are heat resistant, wearing them will make the whole body heat-resistant. Cue to someone becoming a meme by jumping headfirst onto a magma lake while wearing dragonhide boots, jeans pants and a wool t-shirt.


We actually have an example of people who think like that in real life:

  • People who wear tinfoil hats to protect their noggins against microwave radiation ignore that microwaves can pass through their faces just like visible light passes through glass. They insist on the magical power of their hats against Illuminati mind domination anyway.

  • Gwyneth Paltrow preaches that putting jade eggs inside lady parts protects the body against toxins, and some people buy said eggs from her.

  • I've seen people buying anti-radiation cellphone cases, which would completely block the phones' electromagnetic radiation emissions and thus protect the users from cancer. There is a bit of truth to that, since if you never take any cellphone radiation you will never get cancer from it. Much like if you wear chainmail inside the ISS you will never be harmed by shark bites, for example. Of course, people who buy such cases don't know how cellphones work in the first place.

An uncle of mine used to say that in the ancient times, conmen had to wander around in search of idiots, but the invention of the catalogue and the industrial revolution changed that.

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    $\begingroup$ Just wait until those oceanographers make it to the ISS to test transporting large marine animals in spacecraft (time travel via solar slingshot optional). Then you'll be missing your chainmail. $\endgroup$ – Xavon_Wrentaile Feb 5 at 23:30
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    $\begingroup$ If the cell phone radiation blockers work, how do you make calls! $\endgroup$ – Émile Jetzer Feb 6 at 0:29
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    $\begingroup$ Not sure I agree. The anti-elephant paint I bought and put on my front gate is still working after thirty years. $\endgroup$ – Tim Feb 6 at 8:13
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    $\begingroup$ Reminds me of a VIS panel about acid resistant socks i.pinimg.com/originals/db/ee/d7/… $\endgroup$ – Brent Hackers Feb 6 at 8:33
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    $\begingroup$ @eagle275 those things are not an exclusivity of US anymore. My country is about to take over the lead in the number of conspiracy theorists. $\endgroup$ – Renan Feb 6 at 14:56
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The hide may be fireproof, but the parts of you it doesn't cover aren't

To wear a dragon's hide, it has to be cut for you to wear. This means at the very least it does not cover every part of your skin, leaving your eyes exposed so you can see and your nostrils exposed so you can breathe. If you're exposed to fire it's going to burn everywhere, including the parts that the dragon skin isn't covering or is incompletely sealed off from the outside world. In that case, the smoke and superheated air is going to irritate your eyes and go down your nasal passages to your lungs, possible burning or scalding the very sensitive internal surface lining of your lungs.

Living dragons get around this by having a fireproof nictating membrane that protects their eyes when they breathe fire, a fireproof mouth and pharynx that is protected from burning, and even a thick layer of skin preventing fire from singing their vent. They avoid choking on smoke by having nostrils that clamp shut and simply holding their breath when they breathe flame, like a whale. Their internal sinuses also keep out at least a portion of the smoke making prolonged inhalation less problematic.

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    $\begingroup$ How come this answer is so low ? Unless you don't need to see or breathe, you're going to need holes in the armour (also for donning and doffing said armour). Good luck making these holes fireproof. $\endgroup$ – Pierre Cathé Feb 6 at 9:09
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    $\begingroup$ Gonna give a +1 from personal experience. I did a fire training thing in an oil refinery where the fire brigade chief hands you a firefigther suit and you're staring up at flames three times your size. The takeaway is that, despite all the protection, fire effing hot. Any crack, any shoddy seal, any unprotected area, you'll feel the heat. It may not kill you but you'll regret getting off bed that day. $\endgroup$ – AmiralPatate Feb 7 at 9:16
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Oh but dragon hide is fire resistant

Leather is like that, it's why it's used for protection when you're in a situation where you might encounter brief jets of flame like a smithy. It's great for such situations. Dragonhide is undoubtedly high quality rugged leather and would have significant flame resistant properties.

For that matter:

Tinfoil is even more fire resistant

However that doesn't stop the potato inside from cooking when you put it in the fire. Speaking of which, cooking in your armour is what's going to happen to you when you when you go up against that dragon.

It's not the flames that are the problem, it's the heat.

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Though dragon scales are known for their hardness, they also are excellent heat sinks - while the dragon is alive. The scales have a network of delicate veins feeding water into the hollow inner chambers.

During a low-energy burn, the scales heat up, and begin transferring heat to the skin underneath. When the skin feels a rise in temperature, it quickly begins pumping water into the attached scales, much like humans sweat. However, the "sweat" is fed through the scale, cooling it, then is pushed into the scales surrounding it. The skin connected to those scales reacts as well, and the heated water is pushed quickly away from the site of the heat, rapidly cooling the area. A dragon could have a small patch of scales catch on fire and feel little more than a gentle warmth.

For a longer duration or full-body burn, once the scales have reached a certain pressure point, the water will squeeze out through osmosis, slowly leaking out, just like human sweat. It's less comfortable overall, but will still keep a dragon cool - though the dragon will need to drink a lot of water to stay hydrated.

For a high intensity burn, the water won't have a chance to spread out or leak out. Instead, it will vaporize; the sweat glands have a tiny "door" to keep water flowing in one direction, which means the only place for the vaporized water to go is out through the scale as a cloud of steam, carrying the heat away from the body. A short burn will be quickly cooled after it finishes by the slower methods above, keeping the skin safe.

A high intensity, long duration burn can actually harm a dragon, as it will quickly deplete the water stores in its scales, but it is very difficult to get a dragon to stand still long enough for that kind of burn to run its course.

All that to say, once a dragon is dead and its skin and scales removed, there is nothing to refill the scales with water; a dragon-skin cloak gives slightly less protection from flames than a damp blanket, because it's missing a crucial part of its cooling system.


For a live demonstration in the real world, remove the coolant from your vehicle's radiator, and note the immediate problems your vehicle faces...

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False advertising

Clearly the advertised claim is a lie.

It's not actually fireproof, more like heat resistant, but only for lower temperatures and a short period of time. Think a candle flame and 10 seconds, not a fireplace for an hour. That doesn't sound too exciting, so the advertisement exaggerate a bit.

Exposed parts are still flammable

A shirt made from a dragon's hide is fireproof, but the limbs sticking out are still exposed and unprotected. So the people die from having their limbs burnt to a crisp, even if the torso is protected by the shirt.

Even smaller gaps in the shirt can leave you vulnerable to the heat. The gaps will let the heat in behind the hide, giving you more of a indirect cooking.

Smaller things such as gloves can still be useful for handling hot objects. Full armour, not so much...

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    $\begingroup$ The question is: Why is it not fireproof? How does the dragon not burn itself then? $\endgroup$ – Paŭlo Ebermann Feb 5 at 23:33
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    $\begingroup$ @PaŭloEbermann Because the dragon's hide fit the dragon quite nicely, it doesn't have many gaps that expose flammable parts. $\endgroup$ – Spoki0 - Reinstate Monica Feb 6 at 14:46
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The Bombadier Beetle is a real-life creature that can emit a stream of hot, noxious chemicals at adversaries, when it feels threatened.

enter image description here

The temperature of this stream can reach 100C, or 212F, the boiling point of water. That's hot enough to cause severe injury just by its temperature alone, nevermind the noxiousness of the chemicals themselves.

However, in spite of this incredible defense, bombadier beetles themselves have no special protection against heat or noxious chemicals. How does it avoid being injured or killed by its own defenses? Well, it doesn't store the chemical at temperature inside itself, and then squirt it out.

Instead, the beetle has reservoirs of two chemicals in its abdomen, hydroquinone and hydrogen peroxide. When it feels threatened, its body mixes these two chemicals. The resulting chemical reaction causes the temperature, forms the noxious quinones, and the pressure of the reaction forces the new chemicals out of the reservoir. The heat or chemicals never actually touch the beetle; it doesn't need any protection from them.

Really, this isn't much different from a human being holding a blow torch. You don't need any special protection, not even gloves; the flame occurs a short distance away from your hand, and even that short distance is enough to protect your bare hand from the heat.

enter image description here

There was a book from the 80s or 90s that theorized how a real-life dragon might exist, taking physics and biology into account. I can't recall the title; some googling didn't return any results.

IIRC This book imagined a dragon that could fly because it was filled with hydrogen gas, which made it very light, which also allowed it to breath flames when it expelled the hydrogen gas through its mouth. The flame lit when the gas left the mouth, so the dragon simply blew the flames away from itself.

A dragon that has flame coming from its mouth doesn't need any particular protection from it, as long as it isn't storing any flame or hot fuel or chemical inside its body.

Just look at a human breathing fire. They don't need any special skin or protection; the flame reaction occurs outside the mouth, and they are blowing the flame away with their breath.

enter image description here

So, long-short, a dragon-skin suit doesn't protect its human wearer from dragon-breath fire, because dragon skin doesn't protect a fire-breathing dragon from its own fire.

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    $\begingroup$ I suspect you're thinking of The Flight of Dragons by Peter Dickinson. Excellent (but unfortunately rare) book; I own a copy. $\endgroup$ – Matthew Feb 6 at 20:39
  • $\begingroup$ 10/10 answer, logical, based in reality, 0 handwaving required, nice $\endgroup$ – Hobbamok Mar 3 at 13:25
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So I can think of four broad categories of reasons with some room for variation in the details. It could also be a combination of them.

Dragon skin isn't particularly resistant to fire in the first place. Other parts of the dragon are resistant, but not the skin. Armour made from dragon esophagus would be a better idea.

It doesn't work any more when turned into clothing. Possibly it requires something from the living dragon like magic, a special secretion, or an biological process like blood flow. Alternatively it's the process of preserving the skin that destroys something that made it resistant. Depending on the details it might keep working for a while or stop immediately on death. Having it be something that works for a while but the clothing will suddenly and without warning stop resisting fire would be particularly good at producing crispy corpses of foolish people.

It's only fire resistant, not fire proof. Maybe you can make a particularly thin and stylish (and expensive) oven mitt, but it's not going to help against thermite, white phosphorus, chlorine triflouride, or your new wardrobe's angry relatives.

The clothing itself is resistant to fire but it doesn't protect the wearer. Just because it isn't harmed by high temperature and doesn't catch fire doesn't mean it insulates against heat very well and now you are wearing perfectly intact but burning hot dragon skin. Even if it does insulate, it would only protect what it covers, and what it covers is now subject to build up of your own body heat unless it can magically act as a passive one way heat valve which I think would make it similar to Maxwell's Demon in terms of thermodynamics. It also wouldn't protect against things like smoke, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, oxygen deprivation, or breathing super hot air unless you also had some sort of respirator integrated into it.

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  • $\begingroup$ ****, you beat me to it. I was going to suggest DragonTripe™ armour would be the hot new thing... even better, it might turn out to be super toxic to people (like asbestos, for example). $\endgroup$ – Will Crawford Feb 6 at 4:48
  • $\begingroup$ @WillCrawford Asbestos isn't toxic. It's carcinogenic, and as I understand it the mechanism is largely mechanical rather than chemical. $\endgroup$ – smithkm Feb 7 at 17:58
  • $\begingroup$ s/toxic/${ [ qw/ injurious lethal harmful / ]->[ int(rand(3)) ] }/ $\endgroup$ – Will Crawford Feb 8 at 0:35
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Living dragonskin is suffused with a particular oil; this quickly vaporises when hot, providing a vital stand-off distance between the flame and the skin. It's the difference between touching a hot poker and holding your hand an inch away from it. Once dead and tanned though, the skin loses this property entirely -- and is in fact somewhat flammable.

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All parts of the dragon, including the skin are simply resistant to high temperatures. When exposed to fire the skin, and the human wearing it, still get hot. The skin is able to withstand the heat, but the poor guy inside cooks like a hot-pocket.

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Hides may have an insulating inner layer and an outer layer with very high thermal conductivity. They resist fires because the heath is quickly spread across a large surface. The small garments made for human don't have such a large surface and above a certain temperature they catch fire.

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Real dragon hide is fireproof, but indistinguishable from cheap knockoffs

There's a relative of these dragons that evolved to be a little smaller and live in the ocean. Firebreathing/fireproofing offering no advantage there, it lost both those traits. Fishermen regularly snare these while fishing for other fish, and have found no use for them. Until dragon-hide became a hot commodity, then these were discovered to be good for a cheap knock-off, as it can't be distinguished from real dragon hide except for the fire resistance.

Once widely known, then maybe merchants would test hide with fire. So possibly it's just not yet known why there are conflicting stories about the fire-proofness of dragonhide.

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  • $\begingroup$ Some sort of standard labelling scheme, maybe with a picture of a torch or a tinderbox, ... ? $\endgroup$ – Will Crawford Feb 8 at 0:33
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Dragons need to vent excess internal heat through their skin

As others have said, only the insides of the dragon, and maybe the face, would need to be truly fireproof.

Why would the skin be very non-fireproof? Well, dragons create fire inside their bodies, and all that heat has to go somewhere, or the dragon will cook itself from the inside out. So they've evolved skin that lets heat through very easily, to help regulate body temperature.

So a hapless human wrapped in dragon skin will get the full heat of any fire that hits them.

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The evolutionary view

  1. Dragons evolved fire.
  2. Dragons evolved fire resistance.
  3. Humans discovered dragon fire resistance, started killing dragons to make fire resistant armor for themselves.
  4. Dragons now found that fire resistant skin that others would kill you for was of anti-survival value. Dragons evolved an (unspecified here) mechanism to prevent dead dragon hide being used to make fire resistant armor.
  5. Humans are now in the process of being selected for not harvesting dragon hide to make armor.

A thought on the mechanism: Maybe the skin winds up focusing a larger heat (external flame) on a smaller heat (the wearer's body) and actually burns you more than not wearing it. This could explain why the fire resistance works when you put the armor on a manikin.

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One of the most amazing properties of dragons is the Glow you can see when they breathe fire, or are struck by flame. The flame doesn't just go forward from the dragon's mouth, you see. No; a thin halo of yellow-red heat, almost like an ember in its own right, actually shoots backward at the same time, hugging the contours of the dragon's body, from the tip of the snout to the tip of its tail. It actually heals the beast to a small degree, as minor cuts and abrasions in the hide are smoothed out by the process. And this is not the only place you can see the Glow: when a dragon is struck by flame (natural or dragonfire), the same thing happens, emanating from the point of contact. It is awe-inspiring to watch, though it makes dragonriding dangerous, as anyone who touches the Glow is burned.

And, of course, everything I just told you is a misconception. There is nothing magical about the Glow at all, despite looking really cool. What's going on here is that dragonhide is not fire-resistant at all: it's ablative. When the dragon is struck by flame, including its own breath, the entire outer layer of scales burns away in a controlled flash, revealing the next layer of scales underneath. That outer layer is dead, so it doesn't harm the dragon to lose it, and dragons typically only breathe fire in short bursts, so as long as they don't do this too often, it is easy to mistake for fire resistance, which is what the humans have done. A living dragon will replenish its scales over time, like a human replenishes skin, but it would not be a good idea to go swimming in lava or running through forest fires: a dragon would survive only slightly longer than a human under such conditions.

Dragonhide clothing actually works just like the skin of a living dragon: the whole thing burns away in that same controlled burst, so people see the Glow. But since you don't have a layer of dead scales underneath, you just end up with hideous burns all over your body. This actually happens to dragons too, if they lose their very last layer of dead scales, which is why dragons try to end their fights well before that happens.

Some quick notes: - Dragons are typically most comfortable with between 5 and 8 layers of dead scales. Carrying more layers than this gets itchy and stiff, like a callus, and dragons will usually try to groom down if they can't shed naturally. Carrying fewer layers feels sore and exposed, not exactly like a scrape but similar. - Dragons don't generally know the exact number of layers they have at a given moment (though it shouldn't be too hard for a doctor to count them by performing something like a biopsy). They do know that when it starts to hurt, you need to get out of there. - Multilayer dragonhide clothing would function, though with two caveats. One, it would be as stiff as multilayer leather clothing in the real world. Two, once you're down to the last layer, you have the single-layer problem again. - If you had some other fire-resistant thing on under dragonhide, that would protect you. But then why are you wearing dragonhide? (Possibly because the inner layer doesn't need to be quite as good at protecting from fire as the dragonhide was?)

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  • $\begingroup$ Interesting theory, but if dragons were regularly burning off patches of layers of skin, people would notice, so the claim that dragon hide was fireproof wouldn't have nearly as much clout. $\endgroup$ – Abion47 Feb 8 at 4:28
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You said it yourself, the dragon hide and it's internal organs are fireproof. For a human wearing a dragon hide, the armor would be unaffected, but the wearer would cook inside his dragon hide shell.

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Perhaps there is some sort of enzyme, when the INSIDE of the skin is exposed to oxygen and heat the enzyme starts breaking down the fire retardant material to a waxy substance that burns.

This process takes a long time though, so the first 27 times (or years) you charge into flame you are fine than on time 28 you face the "dragon's curse" and die terribly. Now wearing the dragon's skin is seen like selling your soul for power or something

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Other answers give some interesting practical reasons why dragon hide might not be fireproof, but I'd like to add an alternative explanation for the scenario where dragon hide is fireproof.

The stuff people are buying isn't real dragon hide.

If people have been buying the hide for decades to centuries, the belief that the stuff is fireproof would've been tested and proven/disproven a long time ago. If the sale of the hide had been happening for so long and people getting torched is a recent thing, then it would stand to reason that the market had been infiltrated with a convincing knock-off material.

Maybe some merchants have figured out that wyrm (breathes poison gas) or wyvern (doesn't have a breath-based attack) is a safer and more abundant source of hide material. As wyrms and wyverns are cousin species to dragons, their hides can be refined to look nearly identical to dragon hide, and their other physical properties are also quite similar (resilience, durability, etc.). However, since wyrms and wyverns don't breathe fire, there is no evolutionary reason for their hides to be fireproof (much to the short-lived dismay of unaware adventurers).

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  • $\begingroup$ The best part being that in most cases, no one knows they perished that way, because they are reduced to ashes and then ... dispersed. It might be a while before someone is able to put two and two together. $\endgroup$ – Will Crawford Feb 8 at 0:38
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Dragons being fireproof is only misattributed to their skin in a world where cellular biology hasn't been invented yet. Instead, much like regular skin, any kind of resistances are the result of secretions that only exist in living specimens, much like oil in human skin provides some water resistance.

Dragons are constantly producing a fire-resistant chemical from the skin under their scales, and this chemical is only produced while the cells are biologically alive. They can be trapped into the hide if you start the process fresh off the carcass, providing a little bit of fire resistance for a short while afterwards, but these quickly degrade and no longer provide the same benefit. This allows for the rumor of fire resistance to be developed, but not be true for very long.

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