Introduction: Flat-pack Explosive (squib)

Picture of Flat-pack Explosive (squib)
This is a small electrically triggered flat pack explosive. Commonly called a "squib", it is often used in stage and film to trigger various special effects.

*** WARNINGS:***

Step 1: Gather Materials

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Materials you will need:
  • nichrome wire (for igniter). Failing this, you can use some thin (30 AWG) copper wire
  • medium gauge (16 AWG or so) insulated wire (stranded), for trigger wires
  • normal bond paper
  • cellophane tape
  • aluminum power
  • potassium perchlorate

Tools you will need:
  • wirecutters
  • wire strippers
  • a small scale (capable of weighing small numbers of grams accurately)
  • a metal cylindrical roller
  • an anti-static computer bag

Step 2: Make Fuse

Picture of Make Fuse

This is the electrical fuse for the squib.

First, cut two pieces of your fuse wire, 1 to 2 feet long. Strip both ends.

Next, cut a small piece of your igniter wire, about 1.5" long.

Twist one fuse wire to each end of the igniter wire.

Double the ends of the igniter wire over, to add mechanical integrity

Straighten the whole thing out.

Step 3: Make Flash Powder

Picture of Make Flash Powder

See the other instructable, "flash powder".

Make about 1 to 1.5 grams of flash powder for each squib.

Step 4: Cut Paper

Cut the paper wrapper. Simple: It is a square piece of white paper, about 4" by 4". That's all!

Step 5: Measure Flash Powder Into Wrapper

Picture of Measure Flash Powder Into Wrapper

Lay your igniter across the wrapper.

Pour 1 to 1.5 grams (about 1/2 tsp) of flash powder onto the igniter.

Make first fold about 40% of the way up the wrapper.

Step 6: Second Fold

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Fold the top of the wrapper down, and tape in place.

Step 7: End Fold

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Fold one end of the wrapper over, including the fuse wire, and tape in place.

Step 8: Final Fold

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Turn the open end of the wrapper up, and jiggle the wrapper to settle the flash powder deep into the wrapper.

Turn the wrapper over, and place flat on the table.

Fold the open end across, on the opposite side as the first end you folded. Include the fuse wire in the fold.

Tape in place.

Wrap another piece of tape around the entire squib for good measure, to keep it from spontaneously untaping.

Step 9: Storage

Store until use in a cool, dry place. Best to store in an antistatic bag.

Keep away from children, pets, other chemicals, and sources of ignition.

Step 10: Use

Picture of Use
Strip the ends of the fuse wires. Attach to a plug or otherwise so you can put 120 volts AC across the fuse wires. Plug into a long extension cord (at least 25').

To ignite:
  • Step WAY back (at least twenty feet),
  • get hearing protection (it's about as loud as a good-size gunshot),
  • clear the area of bystanders, and post spotters so no one goes near the charge
  • plug it in -- BOOM!!
  • be sure to unplug before picking up the pieces!


szechuan53 (author)2008-07-29

i'm 14. teenager, not child, w00t!
but seriously, i can handle this. i am willing to bet that i am the only one of my age interested in purchasing xenon diflouride and knows where to get it. i can handle a squib.

mali77 (author)szechuan532017-02-11

i think you 12 and a chld for telling the inter net how old you are

i mix all my own explosives and i'm only 14, i can handles squibs too... PYROS UNITE!!!!!

If u rly think u r a pro-pyro,make tatp-hmtd-nitro glycerin -nitro cellulose - etn-rdx -comp a3-c4-comp b before reaching 15 y.o.,i did it,it was easy,and I'm alive,but be carefull about these things these are HE and mostly primary explosive

I think it is a bad idea to dare a kid, (no matter how adept he thinks he is), to develop plastic explosives. Or any other form of high explosive that is potentially unstable in the development of it. Most of the pyrotechnic developments of these instructables are fairly stable, even during manufacturing, but the composition that you suggest requires a greater degree of control and care in handling and preparation. Not that I give a damn... hey kid, go blow yourself up!... I'm just saying, maybe a bad idea to dare him to do it is all

Tombini (author)szechuan532008-09-03

What would you want it for? Fluridation? Anyway Sulfur Hexafluride (SH6) is much more fun 6 times as dense as air and safe for the lungs

Kataze (author)Tombini2008-09-04

six times as dense, about a million more times as expensive. :P

BartholomewH (author)Kataze2015-06-08


ekulmeekul (author)Kataze2009-01-18

i thought air was free? Plus not all 15 yr old teenagers (myself included) have access to a chemical supply or anywhere that will supply them with any sort of bottled gas no matter how harmless. not even oxygen! cmon who doesn't like to see extra oxygen fed to an explosive. Oh i know, the police!

Your comments illustrate exactly why it;s illegal to provide such materials to teenagers (in the US). Just because oxygen is all around us, and a gas we need to live, doesn't mean it's harmless. Pure oxygen is highly flammable, and burns with an invisible flame. You could walk right into an oxygen flame and not know what happened to you. It would resemble spontaneous human combustion to anyone observing you. Concentrated oxygen could also have toxic effects. 

oxygen on its own is not flammable... you need some sort of fuel, and yes, any flame when supplied with oxygen become almost invisible... so i get that bit, but a huge bubble of pure oxygen? burning? and someone walking into it? get realistic man! i dunno what planet your living on, but where I'm from, there aren't giant pockets of pure oxygen floating around the atmosphere, i hope that helps...

Hmmm. You must be from a medically backward region. Where I live, those with lung disease sometimes are prescribed oxygen. My father was one of those, and the oxygen (which is pure) was delivered in pressurized green metal cylinders. Pure pressurized oxygen is also used in wielding. So I do live in a world with "packets" of pure oxygen all around us. You are correct, tho', oxygen on it's own does not burn. It needs fuel, and the fuel is what technically burns. Unfortunately, almost everything can be a fuel when oxygen comes into contact with it. Sometimes explosively. Perhaps you've forgotten, or never heard of, Apollo 1.

'giant pockets of oxengen floating around the atmosphere'... 'someone walking into it' Took that one out of context didn't you...

nutsandbolts_64 (author)Tombini2009-05-13

uhh excuse me, safe for the lungs?
now helium being lighter than air and inhaled makes your voice sound squeaky
Now think about sulfur hexafluoride being much dense, your voice will be deeper
and don't try it at home like what the mythbusters did ( usally its adam )
he said it "don't try it at home"

and may I remind you that your lungs need oxygen not SH6
plus SH6 is very reactive.

Tombini (author)nutsandbolts_642009-05-15

SH6 may be reactive, if it actually existed...

Sulfides -2 charge and Hydrogen +1 (-1 in some cases)

Therefore; H2S = hydrogen sulfide, rotten egg gas
This is clearly not Sulfur Hexafluride which has a chemical formula of SF6
SF6 is almost completely stable I will use a quote from the wikipedia page on SF6 to prove this ;
"There is virtually no reaction chemistry for SF6. It does not react with molten sodium, but reacts exothermically with lithium."

And may I remind you that breathing in He or SF6 intermittently can be completely safe, the mythbusters only say to not try this at home because of stupid people using it in excess and drowning themselves.
SF6 is not reactive, and is completely safe if you do SOME REASEARCH

nutsandbolts_64 (author)Tombini2009-05-15

4 words you have a point

szechuan53 (author)Tombini2008-09-04

maybe for an element sample, as most other available forms of xenon aren't very visual. and, yes, i know what sulfur hexaflouride is. i'm crazy, not stupid.

dla888 (author)szechuan532009-10-09

Don't be too cocky.
A gunpowder squid you could handle but a flashpowder squib shouldn't even be made. A pile of flash powder will go boom, but you gotta put gunpowder in a case to make it go boom.

Archive555 (author)szechuan532008-10-30

I'm 14, and I too am interested in purchasing it ;)

szechuan53 (author)Archive5552008-11-08

umm... do you even know what it is?

Kataze (author)szechuan532008-09-04

You'd be surprised, man.

SD_cyborg (author)2011-10-08

Can there be a lower scale substitute for this?
Where i can use a 9V battery.. ( making it portable :D)
and maybe replace the flash powder too?

VadimS (author)SD_cyborg2011-11-04

You can use thin steel wire (much better then copper) for the igniter, a 9v battery should do the trick.

use Christmas tree lights for your ignitors... simply use wire cutters to cut the glass portion of the bulb, but leave the filament intact. The filament will pass a 12v current before breaking, allowing ignition of whatever powder you use.

BartholomewH (author)2015-05-29

Flat pat assembly of an explosive? :D
Should this really be here, lel/

Fxboy (author)2015-03-01

Sooo... a few things to consider before attempting this:

first, mixing flash requires a BATFE type 20 license, as well as any state and local requirements. without that, it's a federal crime to mix.

second, flash is wicked stuff. we stopped using packs like this for squibbing things decades ago, switching to much more stable compounds.

last, using A/C to trigger any pyrotechnic device is unwise and unsafe and in many jurisdictions, illegal.

squibbs are one of those things that are simple in theory, but in half a second, a tiny mistake can hurt or kill somone.

lop145 (author)2009-12-19

4x4 centimeter or inch?

VadimS (author)lop1452011-11-04

" means inch

jweaks (author)2011-08-14

Gracious sakes! Don't plug into house current! Use a battery.

Falling_Jihad (author)2006-10-05

Were can i obtain some of this aluminum powder and potassium stuff.

this makes flash powder, just open some fire works, and it is premixed.

yeah and just mix it with other powders and accidently blast your hands of.

not if you know what your doing

if u mix 2 kinds of gunpowder with each other it proves u dont know what u are doing.

no it just prooves that im stupid but im safe when i do things

then how exactly are you safe when you are being stupid?

PerfectPantaloons (author)lop1452010-12-28

ever heard of a real life paradox???

garrettanderson983 (author)2010-01-29

Mixing flash powder in a bag is a smart way to blow your damn hand off!!! that crap is DANGEROUS!!!

its an anti static bag flash powder (FP) is ignited by friction, static, and heat, as long as your not heating or hammering the bag you are okay.

hoody5891 (author)2007-03-31

where did u get the potassium and where can i get it can i get it shipped from uk or somewhere to australia

Mr.Bean (author)hoody58912007-04-20

i'm pretty sure you can get it either on or

pyrophotographer (author)Mr.Bean2007-05-30

potassium on unitednuclar, yes but no potassium perchlorate

It costs a lot to ship stuff into Australia from unitednuclear. If anyone knows of an australian chemical supplier like unitednuclear I'd love to hear about it.

Archive555 (author)BlueFusion2008-03-29

I too would love to find a supplier within australia.
I have looked at a couple of places '*cough* anarchists cookbook *cough*' where they say it is also called salt peter, and is in stump remover, but I haven't confirmed this yet. Thx anyways.

BlueFusion (author)Archive5552008-03-29

It is called saltpetre however it is not present in stump remover in Australia due to regulations. However I have a recent discovery which I will share in the form of an Instructable as to how to derive a powerful explosive from legally obtainable materials, i.e. stuff you have at your local supermarket. :D Will post that in the next few days.

dla888 (author)BlueFusion2009-12-28

Where is that 'ible?

agent harmsy (author)Archive5552008-12-12


aus chems

hope that helps :)

Tombini (author)Archive5552008-09-04

I get my KNO3 from Sigma I live in Perth...

so would i

Tombini (author)pyrophotographer2008-09-03

Does united nuclear have any perchlorates?

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