Introduction: The World's Loudest Party Popper - the Most Portable Film Cannister Cannon

Picture of The World's Loudest Party Popper - the Most Portable Film Cannister Cannon

I first saw the Film Cannister Cannon over on SciToys. First CameronSS and then Kipkay both posted versions here, but this version is small enough to be pocket-sized, and usable as the world's loudest party-popper. It is also made entirely of re-used components.

Step 3 includes a video summary of the instructions, plus a firing.

Mind the lights.

Step 1: What You Need:

Picture of What You Need:

This make is effectively free, using materials you can scrounge and tools you probably already have.

A 35mm film cannister - the tighter the lid fits, the better, so try for the translucent white ones. I've gone digital, but I can still get loads of the cannisters by asking nicely at my local Boots photo counter (it saves the staff walking out to the recycle bin).

The sparking-unit from a cigarette lighter. I'm not a smoker, but they're convenient for lighting Bunsen burners. This one, though, was actually confiscated from a pupil caught shocking people in the corridor.

A sharp knife - penknife, Xacto, anything that can make short, clean cuts in the cannister. I would not recommend using a kitchen knife - the relatively long blade makes them harder to control in short, fine cuts, and more dangerous if you slip.

Fuel. Some people use hair-spray, SciToys uses mouth-freshener spray, but my fuel of choice is methanol (denatured alcohol, available in the US as camping stove fuel or Heet).

As an option, you may want to fix the sparker in place. Several different glues will do the job - Serious Glue, hot glue, contact adhesive.

Step 2: Making the Cannon.

Picture of Making the Cannon.

It may be pure chance, but every sparker I have had out of a lighter has been slightly longer than the diameter of a film cannister. That is the secret to this version's portability. That, and the fact that this version is made upside-down.

Other versions fire the cannister, this one fires the lid.

Near the bottom of the cannister, cut a small hole that is just large enough to fit the sparker's button through.

Bend the wire of the sparker over towards the larger contact and make sure it works - press the button and watch for the spark.

Slot the sparker through the hole from the inside of the cannister. If your fingers are even slightly on the chubby side, you may find it easier to use a pair of long-nosed pliers or a pair of forceps to do this. Try not to move the wire too much. Check that the wire is still in the right place to strike a spark.

There you go, you've finished - don't add any glue until you have checked the cannon works.

Step 3: Firing.

Picture of Firing.
Add a few drops of methanol to the cannister.

Really, just a few drops. Five or six is plenty.

Put the lid on, stand the cannister on a firm surface, and press the plunger once or twice.

With the original fuel-load, you may be able to get two, or even three separate shots, each as loud as the last.

Health and Safety

When it fires, he cannon is LOUD. If you are indoors, your ears will ring - you may choose to wear ear-defenders.

The lid comes off fast - keep your face clear, wear goggles and never, ever point it at anybody.

Be aware of the fire-hazard. Whatever fuel you choose to use, it will (by its very nature) be highly flammable. If you use methanol, remember that it burns with an almost-invisible flame. Check carefully that excess fuel is not burning before you put the cannon down.

Step 4: At the Thanksgiving Table.

Picture of At the Thanksgiving Table.

My family uses party poppers at the celebratory table - Christmas, birthdays, or just there's a load of us together.

Why don't you make enough porta-cannon for the whole family? If you use methanol, they can be fuelled up in advance (store them in an air-tight container to stop the smell ruining the meal). Hand them round at just the right time, describe the firing process and then count down ... 3 ... 2 ... 1 ...


Just make sure the family pets are out of the roomhouse street, you've warned anybody of a delicate disposition just how loud these are, and you've turned down Great Aunt Nelly's hearing aid.


shotgunshane (author)2013-06-02

But shocking people with piezo igniters is fun!

kinneil (author)2013-02-14

u can make a large 1 out of plumbing pipe and shoot frozen orange about 100m

Kiteman (author)kinneil2013-02-14

You need a spud gun - see the search box at the top-right of the page?

infob (author)2012-01-08

Done. Fun. Thanks.

Kiteman (author)infob2012-01-08

You're welcome - thanks for commenting.

powercow244 (author)2011-12-24

my friend and I fill party poppers with airsoft BB's and tie a string to them and use them as claymores

ilpug (author)2011-08-28

these are great. they can also easily be modified into a small potato cannon.

Wafflicious (author)2009-01-03

What does kitewife think of these?

Wafflicious (author)Wafflicious2009-01-03

I think they're a blast!

Kiteman (author)Wafflicious2009-01-03

She just rolls here eyes...

hintss (author)Kiteman2010-12-20

who is this "eyes" you are speaking to? :P

Kiteman (author)hintss2010-12-21

I just looked at your profile. It sounds familiar. Do I know you in real life?

Lithium Rain (author)Kiteman2010-12-26

"Loves computers, free stuff, cool technology, exploiting the aforementioned cool technology, and making bad attempts at being funny (this was one of them)."

Doesn't that describe, like...every nerd in every school in every country?

Kiteman (author)Lithium Rain2010-12-27


hintss (author)Kiteman2010-12-22

not that I know of. my science teacher has a small lasercut catapult sitting on his computer, though...

Kiteman (author)hintss2010-12-27

Ah, I thought you were an ex-pupil of mine.

Wafflicious (author)Kiteman2009-01-04

That's kind of funny lol!

nutsandbolts_64 (author)2010-05-26

 I remember beehard44 with one of those piezoelectric igniters. That was a truly shocking experience...

By the way, does Ethyl Alcohol (70%) work too.

so does hairspray

ethyl alcohol burns, hairspray on the other hand.... lol


Kiteman (author)nutsandbolts_642010-05-26

It should do, yes.

stranoster (author)2007-12-26

I can't seem to make the seal completely seal and all the gas comes out through there. I am using hot glue and when i put too much in it just clogs up the button. Do you have any helpful hints?

stranoster (author)stranoster2007-12-26

I've just added a wad so we'll see how it goes. Thanks for the great take on this project. I'm glad to know there are more people who go on scitoys than just me.

Kiteman (author)stranoster2008-01-02

You're welcome. As for the seal, just get another cannister and try that - photo developing shops will have hundreds you can have for free if you ask nicely. The translucent cannisters seal better than the black ones. As for the glue, try it without (you just need to put the clicker back each time), or try a blob of blu tac (I don't what that's called in the US, but it's the blue putty-like stuff used for holding up posters).

stranoster (author)Kiteman2008-01-05

Thanks for the help, but I meant the seal around the button.

Supercoke (author)stranoster2009-12-27

just use some 5 min. epoxy. that stuff is great!

Kiteman (author)stranoster2008-01-06

Simple answer to that - start again. This time, cut the hole small enough that the button only fits through with a snug fit. Gases will still escape, but not so freely as to spoil the bang. If you look closely at the pictures, I have a round button sticking out of a square hole. Clearly there are losses at the corners, but it works fine.

selaja (author)Kiteman2008-01-21

It is called poster putty

cheekycat08 (author)selaja2008-06-26

ha ha laugh out loud i am new here but already wetting myself and by the the way it an expression

Kiteman (author)cheekycat082008-06-28

LOL - welcome, Cheekycat08.

If you're looking for an even easier exploding project, try my Accidental Cannon - I've just been doing it with my Science Club, and we had to move outside because it was so loud.

iceiclepop (author)Kiteman2008-04-14

I don't live in the US. I'm in Australia. I was just wondering now, why I can only ever seem to get one or two pops every time I make one. Its quite annoying. It still sparks and it still holds the liquid. The cap seal seems to be intact as well. Even if I change the liquid over it stops working. I made one with just the wires in the bottom of a white, good sealing one and it still only worked 3 times, even with a change of liquid. If you have any ideas, please post them.

Kiteman (author)iceiclepop2008-04-15

Sorry, that puzzles me. Have you tried shaking it to spread vapour around inside the pot?

woody558 (author)2009-09-28

I made one of these but the sparker goes through the bottom instead of the side. When I tried to fire it, it did nothing. I took the cap off and checked to make sure there was a spark. When I sparked it, it made a small fire. I am using spray deodorant spray for fuel. Do you think there might be a hole in the canister? Should I glue it?

Kiteman (author)woody5582009-09-28

If you squirt in spray, you may be shorting the spark. Yes, block any holes you can, but when you squirt in the fuel, keep it away from the sparker (dribble it down the other side), put the lid on, then shake it to make ignitable fumes.

blrosenberg (author)2009-07-26

where do you get the sparker from and how

Kiteman (author)blrosenberg2009-07-27

As it says in step one, the sparker is from an old cigarette lighter - I just broke the lighter to get it out.

shipo1066 (author)2009-03-05

simple and very effective and only took me about 5 mins to make. many thanx.

garden burger (author)2008-10-04

my cousin did tat at boy scouts ( or so he claimed)

11010010110 (author)2008-10-03

Any pressurized can or closed glass bottle will BOOOOOMM!!!!!!111 and possibly make you wake up in a hospital

Kiteman (author)110100101102008-10-04

Probably, not possibly.

Bartboy (author)2008-09-30

Mr. K Can you do a quick vid on how to get the sparker out, as I do not know how, even if it is simple.

Kiteman (author)Bartboy2008-09-30

No need for a video -

First, make sure the lighter is empty, otherwise a stray spark might create a fireball, and the gas can be dangerous if inhaled.

Second, peel away the metal parts around the top of the lighter. You may be able to pull the sparker out that way with a pair of pliers.

Otherwise, simply squeeze the lighter hard, with pliers, or in a vice, until the plastic cracks. Crack off enough plastic, and the sparker will come out in one piece, wire and all.

Or, as others have said, simply smack the lighter with something hard and heavy.

minerug (author)Kiteman2008-10-03

On the topic of lighters, if you have one with a brittle enough plastic bit, throw a half-full one hard at a concrete thing, and it makes a huge noise

Bartboy (author)Kiteman2008-10-02

hehe, I still find a video better, then I can see EXACTLY how.

Oh, please do!

smashbob (author)2008-09-26

simple but pretty loud. good i'ble. +1

Bartboy (author)smashbob2008-10-02

simple but pretty loud? Its supposed to be loud!

Kiteman (author)smashbob2008-09-27

Thank you.

About This Instructable




Bio: The answer is "lasers", now, what was the question? If you need help, feel free to contact me. Project previews on Tumblr & Twitter: @KitemanX
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