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.
But shocking people with piezo igniters is fun!
kinneil2 years ago
u can make a large 1 out of plumbing pipe and shoot frozen orange about 100m
Kiteman (author)  kinneil2 years ago
You need a spud gun - see the search box at the top-right of the page?
infob3 years ago
Done. Fun. Thanks.
Kiteman (author)  infob3 years ago
You're welcome - thanks for commenting.
powercow2443 years ago
my friend and I fill party poppers with airsoft BB's and tie a string to them and use them as claymores
ilpug4 years ago
these are great. they can also easily be modified into a small potato cannon.
Wafflicious6 years ago
What does kitewife think of these?
I think they're a blast!
Kiteman (author)  Wafflicious6 years ago
She just rolls here eyes...
hintss Kiteman4 years ago
who is this "eyes" you are speaking to? :P
Kiteman (author)  hintss4 years ago
I just looked at your profile. It sounds familiar. Do I know you in real life?
"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 Rain4 years ago
hintss Kiteman4 years ago
not that I know of. my science teacher has a small lasercut catapult sitting on his computer, though...
Kiteman (author)  hintss4 years ago
Ah, I thought you were an ex-pupil of mine.
That's kind of funny lol!
 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_645 years ago
It should do, yes.

stranoster7 years ago
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?
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)  stranoster7 years ago
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).
Thanks for the help, but I meant the seal around the button.
just use some 5 min. epoxy. that stuff is great!
Kiteman (author)  stranoster7 years ago
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 Kiteman7 years ago
It is called poster putty
ha ha laugh out loud i am new here but already wetting myself and by the the way it an expression
Kiteman (author)  cheekycat087 years ago
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.
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)  iceiclepop7 years ago
Sorry, that puzzles me. Have you tried shaking it to spread vapour around inside the pot?
woody5585 years ago
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)  woody5585 years ago
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.
blrosenberg6 years ago
where do you get the sparker from and how
Kiteman (author)  blrosenberg6 years ago
As it says in step one, the sparker is from an old cigarette lighter - I just broke the lighter to get it out.
shipo10666 years ago
simple and very effective and only took me about 5 mins to make. many thanx.
Bartboy6 years ago
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)  Bartboy6 years ago
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 Kiteman6 years ago
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 Kiteman6 years ago
hehe, I still find a video better, then I can see EXACTLY how.
Kiteman (author)  The Lightning Stalker6 years ago
Oh, please do!
smashbob6 years ago
simple but pretty loud. good i'ble. +1
simple but pretty loud? Its supposed to be loud!
Kiteman (author)  smashbob6 years ago
Thank you.
Bartboy6 years ago
Better Idea, get the bottle of methanol and connect the sparker to the inside of the lid, so if you squeeze it sparks, screw on lid, throw, boom!
chip1237 years ago
Hi in the vid, it looks like you are in a school science lab. It looks like my old one. what school is it at?
Kiteman (author)  chip1237 years ago
It's my school science lab (I'm a teacher). Where did you go to school?
chip123 Kiteman7 years ago
i went to robert clack, school of science
Kiteman (author)  chip1237 years ago
It's not your school, then - I've never heard of Robert Clack.
chip123 Kiteman7 years ago
oh. ok. thanks anyway.
I think most science labs look alike.
he may be a geek but he is funny to look at only joking
iectyx3c7 years ago
Full marks for the K-Man. I especially like that though a teacher, there is no attempt to impart any education (piston, internal combustion) - just the healing balm of a loud report. Well known to soothe the savage breast.
loki955317 years ago
Wow that is loud! Now my cat is hiding in the other room because a friend of mine just found the one I made and got it to work for the first time. it is a little finicky (air/ fuel mix) but does work.two thumbs up.
Dim-17 years ago
Awesome! I'm going to make 1 or 2 of these and keep them on me at all times!
sweet dude... All of your stuff is good (except for the stupid mini potato shooter).
selaja7 years ago
How do you get the sparker out of the cigarette lighter?
most have metal guards around the valve where the gass comes out, you have to get a small flat head and pop that metal guard off, then pull the button or slide or whatever its called out and there is the piezo, it look like the 1st pic.
im pretty sure piezos are only in barbaque lighters and not in cigarette lighters but i might be wrong
they're only in electric cigarette lighters.
there definitely in the barbaque lighters im not sure what you mean buy electric cigerate lighter because cigerate lighters use flint
no they dont, there are many out now that have a spark thing like he shows above. their easier to use than flint lighters cause you just have to click a button. they're quite popular here in japan, with many different variations of them, even some that can resist high winds
Kiteman (author)  selaja7 years ago
You have to break the lighter. Make sure it's empty, then crack it open (maybe squeeze with pliers).
alternitavely, you can throw a full lighter at the ground nice and hard then pick up the pieces after the big BANG everytime iv done it to get the sparker out its worked fine.
selaja Kiteman7 years ago
oh, ok. thnx
dezire7 years ago
Wow! Awesome Instructable, I'll look forward to more :). (Thanks for the screams at my Christmas table)
inventageek7 years ago
buy a big bbq lighter from safeway and unsqrew the screws you can break the rest all you need is the sparker. the wires will be traveling all the way up the tube just cut them at half length and there you go.
ghostguard77 years ago
Very cool idea. I'm going to go make one right now. I wish everyone who posted a project wrote things so clearly and properly. Thanks!
Kiteman (author)  ghostguard77 years ago
Thank you for the nice comment.
dmkberger7 years ago
"would rubbing alcohol work" yes it works awesome! same as the other alcohol but you have to put in like 10 drops... Thanks guys for your cool little toys...
would rubbing alcohol work (91% distiled)
bedbugg27 years ago
i smashed one of those click lighters but when i clicked it it kept shocking me
Kiteman (author)  bedbugg27 years ago
See the curved wire on the clicker in the photo? Make sure the end of it is nearer to the bare metal terminal of the clicker than it is to your finger.
i put a hole on the bottom, which surprisingly works as well...
Kiteman (author)  cosmicmariorick7 years ago
What is the hole in the bottom for? Did you use a larger sparker than I did?
no, i just used it as another path for the spark
Wow! You can hear the echo bounce around the lab.
The video doesn't do the noise justice - the bang causes me genuine pain.
Ooo! I think will have to wear my noise cancelling headphones if it is that loud. Is it so loud that you would not be allowed to do it infront of students?
I warn them to cover their ears properly, plus the sound is short-duration and attenuates quickly with distance. I'm the closest, and don't have enough hands to cover my ears at the same time as pressing the button.
If only my science teacher was as cool as you! In chemistry we had to pretend the experiments worked because the acid was watered down so much that it only reacted alittle because the school couldn't afford it. She didn't like the other topics so we didn't do the experiments therefore we didn't know about it and the class got low marks. So when we began Physics module I worked at home and I got 100% on both papers which was the highest GCSE mark the school had ever had! :D
Couldn't afford it??

I cannot comment properly without knowing the full context, but that can't be right. Either you're not being told the truth or the school is in a dire financial condition. That could be why you have a teacher who avoids certain practicals - she may be untrained in that area and thus less than confident that she can run the lesson safely.

Perhaps (if you're still there), you ought to get your parents to have a quiet word with the Head of Science? Tread carefully, though, because I may well be wrong.
The school wasted £1 million on a perimetre fence of the field (which is only used for PE) so the money that was left was only going into the Head teacher's pocket, teachers wages, the school meals and paper so they had to keep diluting the chemicals and using smaller amounts to make it last long. The teacher should know what she is doing because she is head of Science and aged about 55.
wouldent the teacher just do a demonstration of the experiment rather than the whole class, that way they would still save chemicals.
She won't even do that! I couldn't believe what happened today, the 20 year old gas pipe for bunsen burners was loose and it blew off, caught fire and then the gas tap was on fire.
Today we put them tiny shrimp under a microscope and added ethanol and coke to see the effects =)

and the other week we disected a lung, well the teacher did
Danny Danny7 years ago
And we extracted DNA out of kiwi fruit on monday. I have science 5 times a week, then i have 3 extra lessons because i picked it as a extra subject.
Noo!! We never got to do disection! :(
Dissection is the reason I dropped biology at 16 - I was just too squeamish to hack away at rats and frogs. Naturally, in the next few weeks of school I am going to be leading class dissections of both hearts and lambs' plucks.
i got to watch my teacher dissect a cat. it was pregnant, so i got to see an unborn kitten as well. i didnt get to dissect it because i wasnt in anatomy... regular biology didnt get anything, and honors got pigs. but i did get to dissect a brain once. whats a lamb's pluck?
Kiteman (author)  its a lion7 years ago
It's the lungs and windpipe, sometime with the voicebox attached.

These days, the lungs get slashed for vague "health and safety" reasons. You used to be able to inflate the lungs with a bikepump. You would then say to the class "do you want to hear this lamb's last words?" and pull out the pump.

The lungs would deflate and go baaaaa.
Hahaha! That sounds really fun but don't you get some blood come up too?
No, that's long-since been drained out, and what's left has coagulated. When we do the hearts, we have to pull out black slimy lumps of blood.
That must make your job even nicer!
phyzome Kiteman7 years ago
That's... intense!
Oh lovely! So do they all get to it or is it just you who does a class disection?
They all do it, copying me a step at a time. Fifteen or sixteen sets of internal organs, all being dissected at once - the lab looks like the set of a horror movie.
In 7th grade we were dissecting frogs and our teacher pulls them out of the bucket and I expected a 6 inch long one at most but they were like 2 feet long , I was the only one in the group who did anything because everyone including my old girl friend was 2 scared
in 3rd grade i dissected a shark with my mom and a girl
You dissected a girl with your mom and a shark! OMG!!
no me and a girl and my mom dissected a shark
You should come down to the place my uncle works. He makes micro chips for the machines hospitals use to do surgeries on arteries and stuff.
Cool indeed. I met one of the people who test on those machines. They take a pig stomach, and perform a mock-surgery, like burning a whole to put a tube or something. It is like a 3D video game, that costs a couple million dollars. So I won't be getting one anytime soon. However, I am looking into testing the machines as a possible job choice......
I see, I know some~~one~~thing that you can test them on.
Hmmmm, You're right! The president would be a good test subject!
Eeeehhhhhhhhhh............... DON LIKE THAT NOISE!
how small does it get?
Bout this small or this small and it can get


Kiteman (author)  Kiteman7 years ago
I ought to add that cool does not necessarily mean good - although my classes are more involved and pro-science than some others in the school, they do not achieve any better results.
No, although practical work gives a better understanding of the topic and seeing it happen helps to absorb the subject - for me anyway but I am a practical person.
The buzz-phrase is kinaesthetic learner - you learn by doing. Do you move your hands a lot if you're giving directions?

Want to stir up confusion? Ask your teachers if they have assessed their classes' VAK learning needs (Visual, Audio, Kinaesthetic).
I maybe a 'kinaesthetic' learner however I seem to forget easier than if I am watching, so I suppose I'm a mix.
im sorry your school is poor. we didnt get much for the machine shop, but chemistry, the acids were strong. the teacher spilled some on her apron one day. the next class, there were holes in it.
If that was my school then most people would only have 7.5 fingers.
Reminds me of my math/science teacher. Except we mostly did math. And we didn't do experiments when she did teach science. And she just stood writing on the board. One of the kids started dancing, and she didn't notice, which was funny. But your science teacher sounds worse, though.
You could just buy ear plugs.
Kiteman (author)  jlkinetics7 years ago
Ah, but where's the fun in that?
zero75257 years ago
if you would super glue the lid...
nanor113957 years ago
hey can someone tell me what peizo igniter is and how to get it out of a lighter. im only 12
A peizo or pezio? ignitor is the electric ignitor used in barbecue stick lighters and i guess in some cigarette lighters. it looks just like it does in the picture, just pull it out, hold it between you finger and thumb and give it a snap. it'll zap a bit. but its nothing, it took me 3 times to realize it actually shocks me lol, but up to like 2 cms itll make a nice ark of electricity. hope this helped buddy.
so u just pop it out
Kiteman (author)  nanor113957 years ago
I had to break the lighter to get the sparker out, but since it was confiscated off a pupil that didn't really matter. Just rip the thing apart with pliers.
shame to the pupil for shocking ppl xD. At least you have applied your knowledge and put the ignitor for other uses
yeah, it should have a wire attached to the wire end, mine did, but i was no prob to snap with my hands (im 14) so im sure anyone could do it.
"a peizo or pezio?" OR PIEZO? funny when people correcting people are corrected by people xD
Spokehedz7 years ago
Not to sound like a total idiot, but didin't the guy from Make, umm, make this about a week ago?

Kiteman (author)  Spokehedz7 years ago
That's the kit from SciToys that CameronSS and KipKay based their makes on. I've slimmed it down to the bare essentials - a click and a bang.
Kiteman (author)  Kiteman7 years ago
Oh, and fortunately I posted this about two weeks before that.
pyro137 years ago
Sweet! I have the same question i did with the accidental cannon, would a small drop of petrol work? I like fire =D
Kiteman (author)  pyro137 years ago
Probably, since this is how the cylinder of a car engine works (air+vapour+spark=BANG)

Be careful though, because the fumes of petrol are much more explosive than the fumes of methanol.
pyro13 Kiteman7 years ago
I tried this with Axe cologne, but the seal wasn't perfect, and nothing happened.
pieplay7 years ago
Methanol can cause blindness, use ethanol instead.
pavana pieplay7 years ago
If you plan to drink it, yes. If you get hit in the eye by the cannister lid the fuel you use makes little difference. Wear safety goggles!
i tried axe deodorant, it works very well
jamnoopers7 years ago
This is cool. I gotta try this! Only... undercover...So that i can sneak up on someone and then.... BAM!!! LOL
Behb7 years ago
You can also do the same thing, but get a canister of about the same size as the filmcanister but with a screwlid(maby some sort of jar or bottle for medicine pills). Then attach a tube to the screwlid to make a really really small spudgun.
Spedy7 years ago
Another amazing film can project from Kiteman. And to think just today I have that exact peizo and the same kind of film can laying around... I don't think I have any "spirits" available. I'm thinking a brief spray of hairspray will work (as in the film can cannon. THESE ARE AWESOME1!!), or some 91% rubbing alcohol would work. I am amazed at your ability to think up these amazing projects. I am in awe at all of them. *worships kiteman*
Kiteman (author)  Spedy7 years ago
> scanning for sarcasm <

> results inconclusive <

Er, Thank you.
u should glue a piece of string onto the lid connecting it to the body so that u wouldnt have to hunt for the lid each time...but this is one of the better instructions out there...great job buddy +1
Brennn107 years ago
Nice job Kiteman, I guess your "hint" produced some popularity!!! I love this Instructable!
KentsOkay7 years ago
Awesome!!! Seriously, I need to emigrate just to get you as a teacher... +++++
CameronSS7 years ago
I didn't realize my Instructable would be so popular...After a week or two, the novelty wore off for me. I wonder if I've created the next LED Throwie...
Kiteman (author)  CameronSS7 years ago
I suppose I am perpetuating the meme, but really it started as laziness on my part - I couldn't be bothered to make the whole base affair, but I still wanted something that would go bang. The whole process is, at heart, two simple steps - rip the sparker out of the lighter, then cut a hole in the canister.
X_D_3_M_17 years ago
awesome... do u have to be 18 to get the methanol
Kiteman (author)  X_D_3_M_17 years ago
Quite possibly, unless maybe if you're buying it from a camping store? Being somewhat over 18, I often forget to check age limits on materials. You almost certainly have to be 16. Maybe you could try a squirt of hairspray instead?
Aerosol hairspray is my fuel of choice, at least until the owner (my sister) found out.
ac1D Kiteman7 years ago
im 17, and every summer since i was 15 i go to camping with a friend( he have my age) and we can buy even if we are not 18.
honestly, i dont think so, because your aloud to buy rubbing alcohol at any age (up to 92% alc. by volume they make) witch is semi watered down denatured alcohol or what ever you would like to call it lol. Its worth a try to buy some :-)
good cuz i dont wanna freak my mom out by asking for alchohol
Kiteman (author)  X_D_3_M_17 years ago
Tell hert's not drinking-alcohol, it's methanol. Methanol is poisonous. It is a useful chemical, not a recreational drug.
alcohol is poisonous too, isnt it? but still, i once bought beer when i was seven, so it MUST be possible to get methanol under 18 :)
Kiteman (author)  altaria19937 years ago
Yeh, but alcohol is less poisonous. It doesn't blind you either.
really?? :-\ cause on the bottle, it says WARNING: bla bla bla, may cause blindness, if swallowed drink somthing like milk of magnesia .. whats milk of magnesia lol ( i no somewhat off topic but i wana no what it is lol)
Kiteman (author)  !Andrew_Modder!7 years ago
It's a constipation and indigestion cure - maybe it's meant to flush the meths through before it's absorbed.
lol ok
Danny Kiteman7 years ago
i'll test that theory and get back to you ¬_¬
didnt know that though :P
ll.13 X_D_3_M_17 years ago
If you want to buy anything that you might be refused because of age restrictions, Always go to a small (hopefully) inconspicuous shop, never go to a shop where they will have the desired item.

i.e. If you want a knife don't go to the fishing/hunting shop (unless it's very small). Or where lots of people go. I have tried buying a knife/Air rifle ammo/BB's before at a sporting goods shop but I have always been refused, but since I have bought two knives, one from a "farming/smallholding" shop and a ships chandlers shop. ;)
X_D_3_M_1 ll.137 years ago
teach me ur ways, sensei! jk
Methanol can be bought in the paint section of your store. It is used as a paint thinner. It is also a fuel for marine stoves (on boats) and for homemade camping stoves. HEET in the yellow bottle (automotive stores) is also made from methanol.
bumsugger7 years ago
One (several??) of these would really make the party go with a bang!!
thats really cool, goda make 1 :-) did you get the idea from that 'mini wooden cannon popper' from... sry i dont remember what the website was, mabe here?
Kiteman (author)  !Andrew_Modder!7 years ago
Yes, as I said in the introduction (see the three links to the SciToys version, then the versions that CameronSS and Kipkay made).
hey, what school do you teach at
Kiteman (author)  firemanfu7 years ago
It's in Eastest Anglia, UK.
dangt iwas kinda hoping you wouuld teach on the east coast of the us as you sound like a really cool teacher to have
Kiteman (author)  firemanfu7 years ago
One tries... (the main reason I teach science is to be able to play with this kind of stuff and get paid for it - if I enjoy myself, so do the kids.)
the science teacher I have now (8th grade) is aesome but extremly good at making fun of us and the sort, but the weird gadgets he has are awesome
har har har.
:-\ sry lol. i have a bad habit of looking at the pictures and if i dont get it i read the text heh. i goda read the whole thing from now on sry :-P
Flashflint7 years ago
I live in MI and am 14. My friends and I buy heet quite frequently.
Very nice!
My fuel of choice is butane, which works pretty well.

I've made several of these with my cousin, giving away most of them to little kids (I'm not sure if their parents liked that....)

Anyhow, another addition to this would be: make an automated (and relatively free) fuel system (2h2+02). Maybe I'll draw that one up when I have some more free time =)