Very Cheap and Effective Smoke bomb From an Aluminum Can

Picture of Very Cheap and Effective Smoke bomb From an Aluminum Can
Since my last instructable was of a pretty awful idea, I decided to make another with something that I've devoted many of my summers to, PYRO! This instructable will show you how to create a very simple smokebomb with an aluminum can and some chemicals that can be found at most hardware/garden stores. Each smokebomb will only use 10 grams of the composition and last for about 40 seconds. This composition produces A LOT more smoke than the KNO3/Sugar mix, and is A LOT more dense. What I love about this smoke mix is that the majority of it is sulfur, which is very cheap compared to KNO3.
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Step 1: Gather the Materials

Picture of Gather the Materials
You will need:
-Potassium Nitrate (KNO3)
-Some empty pop cans with their tops cut off (for this instructable you will make enough mix for two)
-Some pliers
-A sieve
-A scale or other type of measuring device that has increments of grams
-Fuse (If you do not have any old fireworks around that you can take a fuse from has very cheap fuse)
-Coffee Grinder (Optional)
-Bolts and nuts(Optional)

I have included two other photos of the different types of potassium nitrate and one different type of sulfur that I have found around my area (Ohio). The grey bottle has replaced the greenlight bottle at my usual spot, lowes. The blue and white bottles I purchased at drugmart. Although the blue and white bottles are close to lab quality, they are very expensive. For the price of two small bottles of sulfur I bought a four pound bag of it. Hi-Yield sulfur is the best buy if you can find it. Check around at garden centers and nurseries. The scale was purchased at officemax for around $30, don't quite remember. Coffee grinders can be found in many different places, I bought a cheapo one for $10 bucks at drugmart. Now you can make your own charcoal by putting a bunch of chunks of wood in a coffee can, covering it up with heavy duty foil, poking a few small holes in the foil, and then placing it on a fire, only to wait another couple of hours until it is done... OR you can do what I did and buy a huge bag of it for a few bucks. I got mine at lowes. You have to make sure it's lump charcoal. The briquettes contain clay which will really screw up compositions. Nothing catastrophic, it just won't burn.
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Moogle7 years ago
My 7th grade science teacher taught our entire class how to do this - we had a project to make a model volcano. If you're going for the volcano effect, leaving chunks of sulfur in the mix (or sprinkled on top) makes little molten glowing balls that roll down the sides, burning any miniature fake shrubbery in their path. :) I know what you mean about being hard to light. The teacher had strips of magnesium for the students to light and toss into their volcanoes. I was the class dork and used a battery operated rocket ignition system. Come to think of it, I still have half a bottle of salt petre in the closet. >:)
Arbitror Moogle5 years ago
Good old sparklers... (strips of magnesium)
A cool volcano style burning can be made using ammonium dichromate but its smoke is a little toxic if memory serves. It's incredibly easy though you just put a cup full into a volcano shaped foil cone and light it.

I like this way of making smoke bombs! i'm used to using the old 60/40 KNO3/Sugar composition but i'm gonna have to try this once i get some sulfur. I like the paintball idea, I'm planning on inviting some friends to an airsoft/b-day party in the woods this summer and i've been looking for a better smoke composition. I guess I have some tests to run =)
What school did you go to? I would go back to middle school to have teachers like that.
It was a 'laboratory' school, basically K-8 on a college campus where education was a fairly sizable major. We got a *lot* of teachers-in-training who taught week long lessons, and a significant number of the students at the lab school were children of college faculty and staff.

It actually closed down about 4-5 years ago, and the building is now the art department.
has anyone else noticed that

saltpeter+sulfur+charcoal=recipie for ancient chinese gunpowder
Dandeman321 (author)  drummonkey927 years ago
Yes. That's true. But you also have to notice that the fuels, Charcoal and Sulfur, are more than double that of the oxidizer, KNO3. A good, fast burning mix usually has a 50-50 ratio, at least in my experience. Also, to create fast burning black powder, you have to ball mill the mixture for hours. The ball milling pounds the KNO3 and the sulfur into the charcoal. This mix CAN BE DANGEROUS, as with all pyrotechnics. Some advice I tell people that are making these devices are, test your mixes in small quantities before going big scale, and always put enough distance between yourself, the firework, and others.
what does the charcoal do in a gunpowder mix? i play with explosives allot but iv always been currous
Dandeman321 (author)  jt247 years ago
The KNO3 and Sulfur bind to the charcoal. When you ball mill the black powder, these chemicals get smashed together, mixing them very thoroughly. That's why, the longer you mill your BP, the better/faster it burns.
Isn't it that the KNO3 + Sulfur get pushed into the pores of the charcoal?
Dandeman321 (author)  duct tape6 years ago
boombam7 years ago
is this powerful enough for a small bottle rocket?!
Dandeman321 (author)  boombam6 years ago
It wouldn't be fast enough burning to provide the needed thrust.
Dandeman321 (author)  boombam7 years ago
Depends. If the smoke ignites, then yes. If not, then it will just be a nice smoke bomb.
westfw7 years ago
Hmm. Weighed ingredients, real fuse, attention to packaging details (and a creative solution at that), mention of the "flamethrower problem" of smoke bombs, moderation of size... This was WAY BETTER THAN AVERAGE for internet pyrotechnic "recipes" !!! (Good job!)
The only cringes were the relative lack of safety warnings/info, and the recommendation to use the coffee grinder on the dry, mixed, composition...
Tombini westfw6 years ago
Dandeman321 (author)  westfw7 years ago
The coffee grinder can be considered dangerous, but the mix is so slow burning and so hard to light, a spark from the coffee grinder would do just about nothing. But I do agree. When I mix stuff in there I often use one finger to push the button down and step back.
Tombini6 years ago
I tried making gunpowder once but it didn't work because you need to mill it, can you give me any advice?
Tombini6 years ago
I live in Australia where can I find visco fuse, fuse paper is so inefficient
Dandeman321 (author)  Tombini6 years ago
No idea
yamon37 years ago
can anyone plzz tell me where i can get saltpete and sulfur in montreal?
daemus yamon36 years ago
well, the magical blend, near the Dollorama on st. Catherine sells damn expensive kno3 and sulfur at like 6$ the ounce. They don't restock fast either. it's meant for magical use, like the Wiccan stuff, weird eh.
Ew. Canadians.
amen whats with the accent? i cant tell what there talkin abooot, eh?
12233314 yamon37 years ago
crush match heads, and saltpetre can be found in the garden section of superstores
Dandeman321 (author)  yamon37 years ago
It may be illegal or really hard to find up there, try chemical suppliers, they may ship to you.
Could these be used on a paintball field? I have been looking for ways to make smoke grenades.
Dandeman321 (author)  Spl1nt3rC3ll7 years ago
These little ones would be alright but they do not put off a lot of smoke, they only have 12 grams of composition in them. Now the only thing that would stop me from making a larger one and using it would be the amount of pressure that these can give off. I've made a large one that blew a 3 inch concrete plug out of it's bottom and launched itself a foot or two up. if that plug was pointed, it could nail someone and injure them. If you do decide to use them, make sure you test them before, and make sure you don't chuck them at someone where it could possible explode and hurt them.
Ok. I'm going to have a go at building several of your smoke bombs. Then I'll give them the good ol' battle test by shooting them with paintballs, throwing them, and such. If they survive the brutal tests, I'll use 'em in my next paintball match, which will either be in the local indoor speedball field or the hour away outdoor one with an awesome field named "The Village" and "Bunker Hill". If they blow up... This will probably take me a week+, then I'll give you the results.
Dandeman321 (author)  Spl1nt3rC3ll7 years ago
Sounds good!
I'm Sorry! this is taking me longer then I thought, I haven't have the chance to go to the store lately. I'd hate to be one of those people that say that they're going to reply with the results and never do. Trying my hardest, be patient please!
you have the results yet? lol.
any results yet?
Holy crap: PEV'S at AG! Right down the road. I like Compound the best.
I bet that if you put the BP inside of a ping pong ball like that other smoke bomb, it would randomly scoot around the ground shooting off smoke. Someone should try that.
try it and tell me ok?
I would, but unfortunately I am 13, and my parents might be a bit suspicious of me if a package of potassium nitrate and a package of sulfur was delivered to the door....
I might try this, my dad is the type of person who says,"The dry leaves burn better"instead of "you'll burn yourself" which often happens
nice :)
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