Earth Day 2010 « Where the (not-so)Wild Things Are

Make A Home-Made Smoke Bomb Without Using Heat

By Jameson Daniels

Use the safest ingredients

Using the safest substances for your DIY smoke bomb project will ensure you can complete the project without any harm done.

Of the chemical oxidants, potassium nitrate (KNO3) is the safest to use. It is not easily set on fire. Additionally it contains no life-threatening substances. At the very worst, if ingested in quantity, it can cause inflammation and itching. It may also cause metal to rust and fruits to spoil quickly.

For smoke bomb mixtures, sugar is the safest fuel to use. In the course of the chemical reaction, the carbon molecules from the sugar combine with the oxygen from the nitrate and that combination further joins with the potassium molecules to form potassium carbonate or potash.

This, together with water vapor (which is also a side-product of the reaction) is responsible for the white color of the smoke.

If you have ever eaten grass jelly, you ought to know that potassium carbonate is one of the ingredients used in producing it. Sometimes, too, potash is used to soften hard water.

Mixing the solution properly

Three/fifths nitrate oxidant and 2/5 sugar is an ideal proportion for the bomb mix. If sodium bicarbonate is to be added, it should be 5 % of the entire thing. That translates to 57.5 % of the nitrate oxidant, 37.5 % of the sucrose and 5 % of the bicarbonate. Sugar slows down the combustion and the nitrate speeds it up. Too much sugar will prevent the bomb from going off.

How to prepare the ingredients

Cut out a strip of aluminum to hold the paste after have processed the ingredients of the bomb.

You can make one big smoke bomb from the mixture or several smaller ones. The number and size of the aluminum paper cuttings will depend on that.

With the entire mix in an adequate container, start adding water little by little. Mix the ingredients and continue adding water until it is a thick paste. Mix the paste until it is even and smooth.

Scoop out a lump of the mixture for each piece of aluminum foil you prepared. If you are making one bomb, pour everything on that one strip of foil. Stick a fuse into the top of each lump. This is to make sure they are on top when you eventually wrap the bombs up. Leave the bombs unwrapped in the room until they dry.

The room where you store the bombs should be securely locked until it is time for them to be used.

If the bombs feel like clay after a day or two they are all ready to be lit. Wrap them in their foil(s) making sure the fuses stay visible. Select an open area in your garden to light the bomb in. Place the wrapped bomb on something that is fire-resistant and light the fuse.

Important safety tips

Do not try to perform the procedures listed above with smoke bomb mixes that you buy from commercial vendors. They are using a highly combustible oxidative agent in their powder mixes. Potassium chlorate bursts into flame easily.

The presence of sulfuric acid is enough to set it aflame. Impact and friction can also set it off. Once on fire, it burns at such a rate that if a sufficient amount of it is located in one spot, a life-threatening explosion could happen.

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About the Author: Jameson Daniels is a writer for check out his colored smoke or his sky lanterns or his making black powder.


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