This Instructable will be demonstrating how to create an exploding ash tray to startle your smoking companions this April Fool's Day. In the following video the process and results are demonstrated:
Step 1: Nitrocellulose
This prank requires flash cotton, which is a common material used in magic tricks. It is a low density form of a widely used chemical called nitrocellulose.
Nitrocellulose is a plastic like substance, used as a wood varnish, fingernail polish, guitar picks, ping pong balls, and in the manufacture of many other useful products. In most instances nitrocellulose burns quite slowly in open air, but when in the low density form of flash cotton, it burns quickly and cleanly enough that the heat rapidly disperses into the air without burning the surface it is ignited on. This means that if done properly, small amounts of it can be lit on top of an open hand without causing a burn. This is not a recommended activity to try, as burns are of course a possibility.
In the above video I ignite far more flash cotton in my hands than what would be considered safe. I have years of experience working with nitrocellulose, and know exactly what the necessary precautions are for working with such large amounts. Under no circumstances should my actions be replicated in that respect.
Step 2: Trapping the Ash Tray
The process used to rig an ash tray with flash cotton is extremely simple. Just hide the cotton under the ash. A thick layer of ash on top of the cotton can provide a delay from when a cigarette is placed in the tray and the cotton ignites.
This prank is sure to get a big reaction, so I highly suggest that it not be used on someone who's reaction may not be a positive one. Use common sense, and don't prank in public places.