What is an unstable blade? | Lightsaber Terminology

An unstable lightsaber blade, sometimes called a flame blade, is a volatile, unbalanced lightsaber blade type with a lively flickering, jagged, and fiery appearance and sound. The Kylo Ren crossguard lightsaber is the most prominent example of a lightsaber with unstable blades. Rey’s double-bladed collapsible hilt lightsaber, shown in promotional footage of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, also features unstable blades.

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What makes a lightsaber blade unstable?

According to Star Wars canon, the Kylo Ren lightsaber’s cracked kyber crystal causes the dangerous instability of the lightsaber’s blades. In addition to the main blade channel, the hilt uses two lateral plasma vents in order to help prevent the flawed kyber crystal from overloading the lightsaber. The side vents create the crossguard’s quillons (side blades).

How real lightsabers create an unstable blade effect

Real life lightsabers (officially licensed or custom) use three primary methods in order to achieve an unstable lightsaber blade: visual effects, sound effects, and specialized physical blades or blade covers. A real lightsaber may use one method or all of the methods to mimic an unstable blade.

Unstable Blade Visual Effects

Some lightsabers are equipped with a blade flicker, a visual effect that mimics the flicker of a flame. A neopixel lightsaber, which uses a neopixel LED strip in the blade itself, may create additional, more sophisticated flame-like visual effects.

Unstable Blade Sound Effects

The collection of sounds in the lightsaber’s sound font may also reflect the erratic state of the unstable blade (e.g. fire crackling, chainsaw like noises, etc.). SaberFont.com, a website offering 300+ sound fonts for purchase, features several unstable lightsaber sound fonts.

Specialized Physical Unstable Blade (or Blade Cover or Blade Plug)

The actual, physical blade or blade cover may also feature an unstable design. Most unstable blades and blade covers are show blades only are are NOT duel worthy. Some designs feature tangible twists and flared out sections of the blade.
Ripper Blades [affiliate link] makes an assortment of custom twisted, flat, and cylindrical unstable blades. CosplayCovers (Etsy) [affiliate link] creates decorative flame blade covers that slide over a standard tube blade. OuterRimSabers (Etsy) [affiliate link] makes a flame blade plug as well. Other sells create unstable blades and blade covers as well.

Some DIY inclined lightsaber enthusiasts create their own custom unstable blades and unstable blade covers as well.

unstable lightsaber blade
Ripper Blades Twisted Unstable Blade (left), CosplayCovers (Etsy) Flame Blade Covers (middle), OuterRimSabers Flame Blade Plug (right) | IMAGES CREDIT Ripper Blades (left), CosplayCoveres (middle), OuterRimSabers (right)


DISCLAIMER: This list contains some affiliate links, meaning if you click through the link and purchase an item, I get some money (at not cost to you). Thanks for supporting SaberSourcing!

CosplayCovers (Etsy) United States flame blade covers
DarthVaderDesigns (Etsy) United States unstable blade set, unstable emitter vent set
PittForceFive (Etsy) United States unstable blade set, unstable blade modification
TheProplicator (Etsy) United States unstable blade cover, quillon set
Ripper Blades [also Ripper Blades Etsy Store] United States unstable tube blades, flat blades, twisted blade, side spikes
KORSabercovers (Etsy) United States unstable blade covers (4 styles)
Kyberlight United States Crackle Blade
OuterRimSabers (Etsy) United States flame blade plug
TimeTravelToys4U (Etsy) United States flame blade covers

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