How to make a non-toxic smoke bomb

Written by james phillips
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How to make a non-toxic smoke bomb
Smoke bombs can be an interesting addition to fireworks. (George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images)

Building a smoke-emitting bomb is a fairly simple exercise in chemistry. The most common variety of smoke bomb uses potassium nitrate (KNO3) and sugar; both are non-toxic, though ingesting KNO3 in large amounts has been linked to cancer. KNO3 is sold at hardware stores as stump remover and can also be obtained as a fertiliser. Smoke bombs are great for fireworks, paintball and war re-enactments.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Saucepan
  • Electric hotplate
  • Potassium nitrate
  • Sugar
  • Scale
  • Lidded cup
  • Cardboard tube
  • Fuse
  • Gloves
  • Goggles

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  1. 1

    Combine a mixture of 60 per cent KNO3 and 40 per cent sugar in a cup, add the lid, and shake the two together to form a homogeneous mixture. The mixture should not exceed 100 grams.

    How to make a non-toxic smoke bomb
    Common table sugar is a primary ingredient in this smoke bomb recipe. (Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)
  2. 2

    Pour the mixture into the saucepan and set the plate to a medium-high temperature; stir the chemicals consistently and scrape any material on the bottom.

    How to make a non-toxic smoke bomb
    Use a hotplate outside while cooking the mixture; if it's overcooked, it can ignite. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)
  3. 3

    Heat the mixture until it has the consistency of peanut butter and remove the pan from the plate.

    How to make a non-toxic smoke bomb
    It might look like peanut butter, but don't eat it. ( Images)
  4. 4

    Scrape the mixture out and fill the cardboard tube. Several batches will be necessary to fill the tube completely. About 3/4 of the way through the tube, set a fuse inside and apply the material around it. The mixture hardens after about five minutes, so be prepared to insert the fuse quickly. Once the tube is filled, the smoke bomb is ready.

    How to make a non-toxic smoke bomb
    Smoke bombs in the making. (Ryan McVay/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Tips and warnings

  • You can seal the smoke bomb in wax to waterproof it.
  • Always wear goggles and gloves when handling combustible materials.
  • Avoid making batches larger than 100 grams at a time.

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