In the Star Wars movies, lightsabers are shown to be extremely hot and able cut through anything; because of this have you ever found yourself wondering, “Do those blades give off heat?” I mean, in the movies, we see them hold the blades up to their face without issue, but in the next scene, they are cutting through steel with it! How is that possible?
A lightsaber does not put off any heat. This is due to a vital part of the lightsaber’s construction. There is a force field around the blade that helps it keep its shape, while also preventing heat from radiating from it. But, something passing through the blade will “break” through the force field and will be disintegrated by the immense heat held inside.
The construction process that is used to make this possible is quite interesting. Also, there are some caveats to blades not giving off heat seen throughout the Star Wars universe that should be mentioned.
Lightsabers and their Forcefield Technology
Most people are familiar with the famous image of a lightsaber, whether or not they have seen Star Wars. But not nearly as many people know how it actually works. This is an important part of understanding why it does not emit heat.
The Lightsaber, as noted by Wookieepedia is made of a metal hilt that emits a plasma blade which is powered by a rare crystal, specifically called a kyber crystal.
This blade is extremely powerful and very deadly. Throughout the nine films and the extended universe, we see lightsabers easily cut through limbs, rocks, blast doors; in fact, in Star Wars lore, there are very few things that a lightsaber can’t cut through.
The deadly nature of this weapon comes from the fact that the blade is plasma. Plasma is extremely hot (in fact most stars are giant balls of plasma), and it burns at 10,000 to 100,000 Kelvins, which is about 17,5400F to 179,5400F (9,726.70C to 99,7260C).
If the heat emitting from the lightsaber was not held back, the user would be severely burned by just holding the hilt of the blade!
So, you may be wondering how they managed to make a forcefield that can hold back all that heat!!
A YouTuber The Stupendous Wave discusses this idea of a forcefield being used to prevent the blade from giving off heat. He notes that the force field is built into the top of the hilt of the saber, and this moves out, along with the plasma of the blade. This forcefield essentially keeps the blade from extending too far, allows it to keep its shape, and prevents heat from escaping!
This most likely works by having opposing magnetic fields on either end of the lightsaber (source). This creates a place in which the energy and heat of the blade can be stored.
In the Star Wars universe, if a blade emits heat, it is a sign that it is unstable and could cause serious harm to the user.
But, as long as the blade is not emitting heat, you could hold your hand an inch from the blade and be fine. In fact, we see Anakin hold his blade inches away from Obi-Wan in Revenge of the Sith, and Obi is seemingly unhurt.
It is only when something breaks through the forcefield that the immense heat does any damage.
But, there are always exceptions.
One very famous lightsaber that is an exception to this rule is the blade of Kylo Ren.
Kylo Ren’s lightsaber is powered by a cracked Kyber Crystal, which makes it a bit unstable. This instability is why there is a cross guard on his weapon, as the unstable energy needs a place to escape. You can also notice the instability by looking at the blade. It has a much more “fuzzy” look as opposed to most blades which look much more static and unmoving.
The Stupendous Wave theorizes that the instability of the blade results in some heat escaping the force field around the blade. Although, this would still be a minimal amount of heat that is escaping, otherwise the heat would render it unusable.
Lightsabers are hands down one of the coolest sci-fi weapons ever created. Whether or not you are a fan of Star Wars, there is no denying that this weapon has had a massive impact on pop culture.
Can Lightsabers Work Underwater?
The Jedi Master Kit Fisto had a waterproof lightsaber. His waterproof lightsaber was created through the use of a piece of technology called a bifurcating cyclical-ignition pulse. Or, to make it easier, you can just call it a Waterproof casing.
In most cases, a lightsaber that was activated underwater would have malfunctioned.
Wookieepedia notes that the technology of the waterproof casing worked with the help of two of the aforementioned Kyber Crystals (in most cases, a lightsaber would only use one crystal).
These modified lightsabers saw heavy use during the Clone Wars since many battles were fought on water worlds.
Another notable Jedi that had a waterproof saber was Anakin Skywalker. That is the same lightsaber that Luke uses in A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. Unfortunately, it was lost when Vader cut Luke’s hand during the Duel on Cloud City.
Do Lightsaber Blades have Weight?
Plasma has mass; therefore, it has weight to it. Since lightsaber blades are made of plasma, that means that they do have weight to them.
An article on Star Wars from PointClicker notes that plasma should be relatively lightweight though, especially in a lightsaber in which there is such a small amount of it.
They go onto say that most of the weight will be held in the hilt of the blade.
This creates an unbalanced blade which makes it hard for most ordinary people to use.
But, this is overcome by the Jedi and the Sith because the Kyber Crystal is attuned to the force. As you probably know, Jedi and Sith are also attuned to the force. This co-attunement with the force allows Jedis and Siths to use lightsabers with relative ease. Also, years of training with the weapon tend to help out a lot too.
What About Lightsabers in Real Life?
Lightsabers in real life, now that would be any sci-fi fan’s dream come true.
Well, I have semi-good news for you! There have already been lightsaber “prototypes” built by hobbyists. (It should be noted that you should not try to build these lightsabers yourself, as they are very dangerous).
The Hacksmith on YouTube has built two of these lightsaber prototypes. The most recent one was the most successful. Unfortunately, the blade does not use actual plasma, as we have no idea of how to harness the level of energy it would take to power a plasma blade.
What they use to power it instead is electricity! They created a battery pack that is attached to the blade with the wiring, which helps to light up the blade.
Also, they could not just have the electricity shoot out of the grip without something for it to conduct around. So, they used a tungsten and titanium blade that stretches from the grip to get that classic fiery look of a lightsaber.
In the end, the lightsaber blade actually looks pretty legit. They modeled it after the prototype lightsabers that are in early Star Wars lore, so it looks like something that you could actually see in a Star Wars movie!
It not only looks like a real saber, but it is dangerous like one too! Unfortunately, though, they were not able to master the force field technology that prevents heat from escaping the blade.
Also, as I said above, this is just semi-good news for lightsaber fans. Real lightsabers will not be possible unless we find some kind of crazy breakthrough with energy. As the Hacksmith says, a real lightsaber uses an ungodly amount of power and we have no idea how to harness so much into one blade.
Although we may not be able to replicate a real lightsaber we still have the movies, books, videogames, and our own imaginations that we can use to live out our Star Wars dreams!
(Talk about YouTube one and the MIT study)