The classic smoke bomb recipe involves cooking the ingredients together to incorporate them, but there is a safe “no cook” smoke bomb recipe that works just as well. The resulting smoke bomb is non-toxic and gives off lots of white smoke.
Safe Smoke Bomb Ingredients
The ingredients for the safe smoke bomb are the same as for the regular homemade smoke bomb. The difference is in the way you prepare the product.
- 3 tablespoons potassium nitrate (saltpeter)
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar (sucrose)
- Fireworks fuse (optional)
- Waxed paper or aluminum foil
I typically use Spectracide Stump Remover for potassium nitrate, but there are other sources of this chemical. Fuses are available at hobby shops and firework stores, but aren’t necessary. They make it easier to light the smoke bomb, but you can ignite the smoke bomb without a fuse using a long-handled lighter.
Make the Smoke Bombs
- Mix together the potassium nitrate and sugar. It’s fine to use kitchen cookware.
- Stir in just enough water to make a thick paste.
- Place small lumps of the mixture onto waxed paper or aluminum foil. Make each smoke bomb using 1 tablespoon or less of the mixture.
- If you are using fuses, insert a fuse into the middle of each smoke bomb, leaving enough length exposed for easy lighting.
- Let each smoke bomb dry for one to two days. Drying time depends on temperature and humidity. They’ll dry fastest in a warm, dry environment. But, don’t attempt to speed drying time using an oven (or you may get smoke).
- When dry, the smoke bombs will feel like clay (semisolid). Light the smoke bombs outdoors on a fireproof surface.
How to Make Colored No Cook Smoke Bombs
You can easily adjust the recipe to make colored smoke bombs by adding 1 teaspoon of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and an organic dye. The sodium bicarbonate moderates the combustion reaction so the smoke bomb burns a bit cooler. The dye vaporizes to make colored smoke, but does not burn.
Notes About Safety
- There are two significant differences between the classic homemade smoke bomb and the no-cook smoke bomb. First, cooking the ingredients produces a smoke bomb you can use immediately. You need to wait for the no-cook smoke bomb to dry before using it. The other difference (and the reason you might choose the no-cook option) is that cooking the ingredients can make a lot of smoke in your kitchen, if you are a messy cook and accidentally spill some mixture onto a burner.
- The no-cook smoke bomb and the classic smoke bomb both are non-toxic. Both sugar and potassium nitrate are ingredients found in food. However, please don’t eat the smoke bombs!
- Both types of smoke bomb are equally safe to use. Always use smoke bombs outdoors and light them on a heat-safe surface (e.g., concrete) away from flammable objects.
- The no-cook smoke bomb is safe enough for kids to make but all smoke bombs require adult supervision to light.
- Smoke bombs do not explode. However, they do burn, so it’s important to have a fire extinguisher or water handy to extinguish them. There are videos of people holding homemade smoke bombs and lighting them. Please don’t do this! Smoke bombs produce heat, so you could get burned.
- Because they do not explode, smoke bombs are legal in many more places than regular fireworks. However, please check local regulations before making or using them. Also, it’s common sense to not use any smoke bomb if your area is under a “burn ban.”
- Turnbull, Stephen (2004). Ninja AD 1460 – 1650 (3rd ed.). Oxford: Osprey. ISBN 978-1-84176-525-9.
- Visser, Wouter (2003). Practical Pyrotechnics.