Smoke Bomb Fail (or How I Nearly Torched My Garage)





Introduction: Smoke Bomb Fail (or How I Nearly Torched My Garage)

About: I am currently an electrical engineering student with a passion for all forms of fabrication. And I am working as a finish carpenter.

So luckily that picture is not my garage (or rather my parents garage) but it very easily could have been. Here is how.

Step 1: How Not to Make a Smoke Bomb

It was the 4th of July 2006 and I decided I wanted to make a smoke bomb, just like I had read about online and seen on myth busters. So I went to the hardware store and picked up some stump remover, and I took some sugar from my mom's kitchen. I cut the top off of a soda can and put in the ingredients. I then put the can (made of very thin aluminum) on the camping stove you see in the picture. I started to heat it to get the ingredients to melt together.

Me being 14 and having far more confidence than my intelligence called for I got impatient and decided to turn up the heat. Almost immediately the stump remover ignited and melted straight through the aluminum can. This might have not been so bad after all it was only on a crumby plywood workbench. However you will notice that the stove I was using has its gas canister located directly below the burner. This meant that in the split second it took me to dash across the garage to get my fire extinguisher (which I had only installed weeks earlier) the heat cause the pressure in the canister to rise so much that it ruptured causing a massive fireball and sending the burner into the loft of my garage AND the molten napalm like mixture of sugar and stump remover flying everywhere.

After a micro second of freaking out I quickly used the fire extinguisher to put out all of the fires then scaled some shelving to check out the loft which luckily remained unharmed. Now of course I find this story somewhat amusing but at the time I felt rattle for weeks, plus I had to spend all the money I had saved shoveling snow the winter before to replace plywood and some insulation that had been damaged. But I did learn a few lessons you can read about in the next step.

Step 2: What I Learned


Okay maybe this shouldn't be my first take away from this incident but it is and it is the most universal. Patience especially as a millennial is hard to fully appreciate but it is extremely important. Learning to be patient has helped me in all aspects of my life from relationships and education to woodworking and welding.

Safety First:

Any garage should have proper safety equipment, even if youare just using it to park a car a fire extinguisher is a must. I was also wearing safety goggles when I did this which as it turned out was a good idea. Another thing I did wrong was to not wear a respirator for days afterwards I felt wheezy and my chest hurt.

The Right Tool for the Job:

So in this case there really was no right too for the job because I was 14 and shouldnt have been doing it at all (especially because I was living in the city of Chicago where I am pretty sure this is illegal) but still I should have been using a thick steel container and the stove I used should have had a way to turn it off from a distance. This again though applies everywhere always use the right tool for the job.

Listen to Your Mother:

Well this wouldn't have helped me since I completely went behind her back (come to think of it I still dont think she knows) but had I asked her I am sure she would have said no.

Record and Share the Things you Make:

I am still not good at documenting the things I make and I am trying to get better, but I really wish I had filmed this, not only would it have really spiced up this ible but I could have been internet famous! Hopefully by sharing this some other 14 year old kid can avoid the mistakes I made.



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    9 Discussions

    Well,no, I did not know about this particular experiment. Sometimes things are just better that way.

    Heh, reminds me of the time I took apart a Lego Mindstorms RCX brick to see what was inside it. With batteries in it. With it turned on. Even worse, I decided to try scraping off a minor amount of battery leakage that was on the PCB. Needless to say, my screwdriver slipped, I heard a little "zap" and saw a thin column of smoke, and knew I'd bricked my brick. Luckily it wasn't as bad as your smoke bomb experiment! ;P

    2 replies

    "Bricked my brick," thats great, well the quote not that you did it. And I have had my fair share of fried electronics too, Im actually an electrical engineering student now and we still fry electronics all the time.

    Yeah, I really hated myself for doing it. ;P Still, some things can still be at least salvaged. If only it was easier to find the specific 'bricked' part.

    i have made lots of this kind of thing luckily without exploding the stove its good job not getting hurt i voted

    2 replies

    Thanks, I have since done this successfully for model rockets but I switched to a hot plate and a thicker steel pot, much safer.

    good idea when i made my rocket i just packed the mixture in with a ram and mallet if i had a hot plate handy i woud have melted it good luck with your experimenting

    What a learning experience! Reminds me of some classmates playing with black powder. Good write up!

    1 reply