Introduction: Exploding Paint

Picture of Exploding Paint

Not the Italian job kind (although I know how to make that too), but a type of burning paint that can be used to burn whatever you paint into wood, and then scrubbed away. You will be left with a piece of wood with whatever you painted charred into it. Its fun, safe (compared to my other projects), and a gives a good show when you light it.
So half the art is actually the process of making the art.

Step 1: Parts

Picture of Parts


1. Piece of wood, it will be your canvas
2. Gunpowder
3. Dextrin
4. Paintbrushes
5. Rubbing alchol
6. Pencil and Sharpie

Step 2: Make the Paint

Picture of Make the Paint

Essentially this is the same stuff used to coat the fuse in this instructable

In a tupperware container mix 10 parts gunpowder with 1 part dextrin. The amount you will make depends on the size of whatever you are painting. However, it is a good idea to mix only a small amount because you can always easily mix more if you run out.

With the powder in the tupperware container pour in the rubbing alchol. Stir in between pouring, and keep adding rubbing alchol until the gunpowder is about the consistency of acrylic paint. Stir it until all the clumps are worked out and you should have a somewhat homogeneous mixture.

The picture shows the mixture after I added the alchol but before I mixed it.

Step 3: Prepare the Wood

Picture of Prepare the Wood

Sand down the piece of wood until the surface is smooth, and there are no splinters. Wipe down the wood with a damp papertowel.
Sketch out on a piece of paper what you want to paint on the wood. I choose to write out tetranitrate in script that way, I will only need to light it once and it will burn through the entire thing. If you are painting a picture and want to only ignite it once, all of the lines have to connect. If you are more concerned about the end product then the show it makes when you light it having the lines connect does not matter.
Using the pencil, sketch out on the wood what image you want. When you are done go over it with a sharpie. It is hard to do fine details with this paint so try not to make any lines you have too thin.

Step 4: Painting

Picture of Painting

Dip your brush in the mixture, make sure the brush does not pick up any clumps of gunpowder. Start to paint out the sketch you drew. Try to paint thick but smooth, meaning you want a lot of gunpowder evenly spread out on your lines.

By the time you have gone over it once, the part where you started should be beginning to dry. You can probably see pieces of the wood underneath the paint, that is bad. Go back over it with a second coat focusing especially on the areas where you can see the wood through the paint.

Let it dry for a few hours. After it is dry check it to make sure that no wood can be seen through the paint, if it can be you need to go over it again.

Step 5: Lighting

Picture of Lighting

Place the wood on the ground outside. Have a damp towel in one hand to put out any fire that may remain after it has burned. Gather a crowd if you want to show it to them, but keep everyone a few feet back. Even though this is just as safe as lighting a fuse, some embers may jump off.
With a bbq lighter in one hand, and the towel in the other, light it up.

For a nice little celebratory climax, I put a spoon-full of flashpowder at the end of it.


huggles (author)2007-11-26

I'm not familiar with the term 'sharpie'. What is it? Is it a sharp tool to emboss (or engrave) your design? Is it a marker pen? Pls help!

paperismyfriend (author)huggles2008-07-29

oooooshit!!!! man!!!!!! u don't know wut a sharpie is!!!!!!! nonononononononononono u must know its a pen ,but just a pen the best pen in the... well its a pen...

Tombini (author)paperismyfriend2008-09-06

Were not all American, do you know what vegemite is or an emu?

lasermaster3531 (author)Tombini2008-11-17

an emu is a flightless bird!

my dad used to eat scrambled emu eggs for breakfast. 4 eggs fed 10 peeps

ridiciliculous (author)Tombini2008-12-03

Vegemite is GROSS!

milamber (author)ridiciliculous2009-02-13

leave vegimite alone its owsome beter than promite or any other "mite"

Tombini (author)ridiciliculous2008-12-05

Your mum was GROSS!

chibiwind (author)Tombini2008-11-13

did you just say that sharpies are only in america and that they are not in australia by comparing them to vegemite and emus!!!?

Tombini (author)chibiwind2008-11-15

Can you get Vegemite or emus in America without importing?

iglo1234 (author)paperismyfriend2008-09-07

its a marker too

Kaiven (author)huggles2008-10-18

A sharpie is a famous brand of permanent marker. You can probably just use the pencil marks.

casey321b (author)huggles2008-09-09

it is a black marker that that will write on almost anything and will not come off... just like any permanent marker

Rishnai (author)huggles2008-06-21

Oh my god, someone who doesn't know what a Sharpie is! They've really become kind of ubiquitous, and "Sharpie" can sometimes act like "Google" in a sentence: a brand name which became so common that it now means " permanent felt-tip marker," just like google means "search for on internet using a search engine." I guess we all forget that not all slang is universal.

Zorink (author)huggles2007-11-29

It's just the brand name of a fine-tip permanent marker.

FunkNattidelic (author)Zorink2008-02-06

not always fine tipped. Its just the brand name of a permanent marker.

allen (author)2006-08-30

Hey Tetranitrate, have you thought of using a modern nitro-based smokeless powder? More energetic then black powder but safer to handle and store. It's also available by the pound for, well, not a whole lot. It's also available in a wide range of burn rates and grain sizes. Not sure how it would work with your dextrin/alchol binder though.

Ctrl+Alt+De1337 (author)allen2007-05-22

"More energetic than black powder"

Sorry, people don't seem to realise these are two different words.

YES! I thought I was one of the few out there who cared! Nice to know we still exist.

JordanZed (author)vivaldibabe2007-11-21

Amen to that.

Grammar pedants unite!

baad spellarz of thuh werld untie!

harigast (author)PerfectlySquare2009-04-23


pdub77 (author)harigast2009-06-24

I just correct grammar and spelling mentally. I'm starting to think people just don't care anymore. Or at least starting to wonder about the state of the education system these days. The only thing that gives me hope is knowing that Instructables is global and maybe these are people for whom English is a second language. : P

Derin (author)pdub772009-07-07

Not me.

--Thatguy-- (author)2007-08-08

at the risk of sounding like a fool. Is charcoal the stuff you get when wood has been burnt? coz thats known to me as "coal" so i assumed it was short for charcoal but im a little confuzzled and just want to make sure.

qualia (author)--Thatguy--2007-10-25

just clarifying this for you. when wood has been "burnt" what is left is ash. if the combustion has not been complete (not enough oxygen) what is left is carbon in the form of charcoal.<--this is not coal. CameronSS (below) has already told you what coal is. :) do not confuse the two. theres a few million years between them.

doublewomit (author)qualia2010-06-18

Yep. A few million years. Only the universe isn't that old.

qualia (author)doublewomit2010-06-18


doublewomit (author)qualia2010-07-27

What is wrong with creationism?

qualia (author)--Thatguy--2007-10-25

and btw, ur not a fool. understandable mistake if others around u refer to it with innaccurate name.

CameronSS (author)--Thatguy--2007-09-09

Yes. Coal is created by compressing decaying plant and animal matter over long periods of time. Stinky muck is compressed into peat, which is compressed into lignite, bituminous, and then anthracite coal.

nomooremr.niceguy (author)2009-07-16

Would you give me the instructions to make the kind from "The Italian Job" if I asked nicely? My email address is . I understand if you would prefer otherwise. But I'd be very grateful if you would send it to me. Either way it's cool. Let me know what you decide. Have a great day! Sinisterly, The Not So Nice Guy

PKTraceur (author)2008-12-28

Tetranitrate, you may know Im slightly less... "Creative," (being used as a relative word here...) than you, but would you know of an alternate use of sulfur, or perhaps where to get it? Ive read part of Foxfire book 5, "Black powder is and isn't hard to make depending on which end you look at it from. It is a long and tiresome task if you make more than ten pounds at a time. "Out on the West Coast, as in some southern states, the trend by the government is to prevent its sale with mountains of red tape. Making your own black powder, however, is not unlawful as yet, as far as I know." "By weight measure, black powder is made of seventy-five parts saltpeter finely ground, fifteen parts charcoal, and ten parts sulfur. All ingredients must be fine ground separately. This can be accomplished with either a mortar and pestle, or with a hand-cranked flour mill. Never mix all three ingredients before grinding unless you want to turn your mill into a deadly grenade, or your mortar into a cannon that can blow off your fingers or even your hand." "Then the ingredients can be mixed with a small amount of water so the mixture comes out with biscuit-dough consistency. Usually when I mix the ingredients, I add just enough stale urine to make the batch bunch about like biscuit dough. The urine, substituted for water, gives the powder more oxygen and higher performance." "Flowers of sulfur is ideal for gun powder, and it can be bought in most drug stores in four-ounce bottles or pound cans." "It can also be found in pure deposits around volcanoes, and in early times, because it was found where molten lava issued from the earth, the sulfur condensed around the rims of the volcanoes was called brimstone." So, can you find it in drug stores? What exactly is "Flowers of Sulfur?"

PKTraceur (author)PKTraceur2008-12-28

Would you know of an alternate material for Dextrin? Where can I find Dextrin? Brand name, or othewise?

PKTraceur (author)PKTraceur2008-12-28

What percentage of alcohol in the rubbing alcohol?

Vulcanator (author)PKTraceur2009-04-30

use anything that will burn, but the best to use is the highest concentration.

PKTraceur (author)Vulcanator2009-04-30

So, 91% should work well?


Vulcanator (author)PKTraceur2009-04-30

Dextrin is a type of sugar. I've used plain table sugar with nearly the same results.

PKTraceur (author)Vulcanator2009-04-30



milamber (author)PKTraceur2009-02-13

i dont know were you live (what country) but in austrailia i bought 3 kilograms of sulfer for about $12.00 aud in a kmart store /local department store in there fertilizer/gardenig section

spc301 (author)2008-02-11

dose any body know how to make Pentaerythritol Tetranitrate?

peanutbutter (author)2008-01-09

ya know it would be fun to make a high school go BOOM, how bout kamiakin high school

Kaiven (author)2007-04-03

hey, at the end of the video, why did it explode?

Vendigroth (author)Kaiven2007-04-14

little pile of what i guess to be flash powder or gunpowder on the end of the wood

--Thatguy-- (author)Vendigroth2007-08-10

it is flash powder, black powder is gun powder so saying it was gunpowder is like putting gunpowder at the end of a gunpowder

Huh...I thought flash powder and gunpowder were different. Similar, but I am almost positive they are chemically different, and that flash powder is more combustible. Can anyone clarify this for me?

Tetranitrate (author)--Thatguy--2007-08-10

Yup, a little pile of flash to prevent any anti-climacticness that may have occurred otherwise.

The Ownist (author)2007-11-08

it works pretty awesome

Pbyrd (author)2007-10-12

Hey offer to paint your hateful old neighbor that smoke's house use this when he lights one up BOOM!!!!!!!!!!!

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