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UP IN A CLOUD OF SMOKE

Make a slow burning smoke bomb

Suitable For

Grade 8

Difficulty

3

Time Required

 <24 Hours

Supervision

Required

What’s it about?

A smoke bomb is a type of firework designed to produce smoke upon ignition. Smoke bombs are often used in the military, recreational games, self defense and you can even use it for pranks on your friends!

Commercial smoke bombs is usually made from potassium chlorate, sugar used as fuel, sodium bicarbonate (baking soda – to moderate the rate of the reaction and keep it from getting too hot), and a powdered organic dye. Crafting such a type of smoke bomb can be quite complex, but you can make an effective and safe smoke bomb quite easily in this science experiment:

Topics covered

Potassium nitrate (Saltpetre), Dextrin, Smoke bomb

What will I need?

  • SUGAR
  • POTASSIUM NITRATE
  • SPOON
  • STRING
  • LIGHTER FLUID
  • METAL PAN
  • ALUMINIUM FOIL
  • ADULT HELPER

Procedure (Method)

Unfortunately, this section is only available in the e-book version of the project.

How does it work?

Unfortunately, this section is only available in the e-book version of the project.

In this science experiment, the sugar placed on a mild heat source is slowly oxidized into carbon dioxide and water. The nitrogen in the potassium nitrate will be reduced to nitrogen gas, and the potassium will end up as potassium carbonate (the carbon coming from the CO2 from the sugar). Smoke bombs use a formula that consists of an oxidizer (typically potassium chlorate, KClO3), a fuel (generally sugar in the form of ‘dextrin’), a moderant (such as sodium bicarbonate) to keep the reaction from getting too hot, and a powdered organic dye to add colour to the smoke. The burning of this mixture evaporates the dye and forces it out of the device, where it condenses in the atmosphere to form a ‘smoke’ of finely dispersed particles.

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