| June 23, 2017

Manly Skills, Survival

How to Make a Quick & Easy Smoke Bomb

You’re lost in the woods, without phone service, and you need a way to signal your location to rescuers on the ground or low-flying aircraft.

Your city is roiled in rioting and chaos, some bad dudes are advancing towards you, and you need to create a distraction to escape and evade them.

It’s a weekend afternoon, your kids are bored, and you’d love to show them a fun and fiery science experiment.

Whether for survival, tactical, or experimental purposes, smoke bombs can be employed in a variety of scenarios.

They’re cheap, small and portable, and incredibly easy to make at home. You can keep them in hiking packs, car glove compartments, garages, etc. You never know when one will come in handy and either provide some weekend entertainment, or perhaps even save your life. Below, I walk you through the simple steps in making homemade smoke bombs on your kitchen stove.

Note: You are of course playing with fire for this experiment, so be prepared and be safe. A bucket of water (or fire extinguisher) is good to have on hand, and when lighting the bomb, use protective eyewear and some sort of breathing filter/mask. The smoke can be toxic, and if the wind blows the wrong way you could be accidentally inhaling it.

Supplies

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  • Cast iron skillet. I actually bought this one on the cheap on Amazon for the purposes of this experiment. Don’t go wrecking one of your existing skillets by making a smoke bomb in it.
  • Potassium nitrate. This is the chemical component of your smoke bomb. It’s often available at local garden centers, as it’s used in a variety of lawn/landscaping products. On Amazon, I ended up getting a product called Spectracide, which is marketed as a stump remover, but it’s really just potassium nitrate granules. A few reviewers even noted that it worked great for smoke bombs!
  • Sugar
  • Aluminum foil. For housing your “bomb.”

Step 1: Create an Aluminum Foil Container

aluminum foil container for smoke bomb

Start by making a simple aluminum foil boat. This is where you’ll pour the mixture so it can harden.

2. Combine Ingredients in Skillet

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In your skillet, combine 3 parts potassium nitrate (Spectracide in my case) and 2 parts sugar. For this initial bomb, I went small and did tablespoons (3 of Spectracide, 2 of sugar). Also, the process goes quicker when you actually combine them well (I separated them for the purposes of the photo).

3. Heat the Mixture Until it Forms a Brown Goo

“Cook” the mixture over medium-low heat, stirring along the way. If it starts smoking at all, turn the heat down. You’ll be tempted to speed things up, but don’t do that. (This small amount took about 15 minutes.) You don’t want the smoke bomb happening on your stovetop.

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Getting there…

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Close enough! This is what your final product will look like: a brown, caramel-y mixture with the consistency of a thick syrup.

4. Pour the Mixture Into the Foil Container

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Pour the mixture into your aluminum container. At this point you can also stir in a couple tablespoons of a powdered, organic dye to add color to your smoke. Next, let it harden for at least an hour. It’ll basically turn into a poo-like rock. For portability, simply fold the foil sides in, and tuck it away into a backpack or glove compartment.

5. Light the Bomb!

To light, just throw a match into the foil boat, and watch it erupt into a billowing cloud of smoke!

You could also easily add a fuse by just placing a small rope into the gooey mixture before it hardens. And of course your bomb will last longer the more ingredients you use.

Last updated: June 26, 2017

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