Blackbeard tied and lit slow-burning fuses to his hair when he boarded a ship. It made him look like the devil!
Blackbeard was the most famous pirate to ever sail the seas. There are many myths mixed in with facts concerning him. First fact is that his real name was Edward Thatch or Edward Teach. Blackbeard wasn't always known as Blackbeard. At one time he was just a lowly man on the pirate totem pole under Benjamin Hornigold.
Old Hornigold saw potential in Edward and promoted him to the point of giving him his own ship. Eventually he pardoned Edward who'd become Blackbeard and he was free to do as he pleased. Blackbeard knew the importance of image in his line of work. Before battle, he would dress all in black, strap several pistols to his chest and put on a large black captain’s hat.
Then, he would put slow burning fuses in his hair and beard. The fuses constantly sputtered and gave off smoke, which wreathed him in a perpetual greasy fog. He looked like a devil who had stepped right out of hell and onto a pirate ship and most of his victims simply surrendered their cargo rather than fight him.
Blackbeard intimidated his opponents this way because it was good business: If they gave up without a fight, he could keep their ship and he lost fewer men. In 1718, Blackbeard went to North Carolina and accepted a pardon from Governor Charles Eden. He may have wanted to leave piracy behind, but his retirement didn’t last long. Before long, Blackbeard had struck a deal with the crooked Governor: Loot for protection. Eden helped Blackbeard appear legit, and Blackbeard shared his takings. It was an arrangement that benefited both men until Blackbeard’s death.