How to Make a Smoke Grenade
Editor’s Note: This article is an update of the original – posted one year ago.
Using a Smoke Grenade
The smoke grenade that we are about to make is similar to the US Army M18 Colored Smoke Grenade.
These smoke grenades are used by the Military for creation of smoke screens in case of a retreat or flanking maneuvers in order to provide a wall of visual distraction that reduces the accuracy of enemy fire or to signal a position for air supported attacks (or SOS signaling).
Each unit designates the meaning and purpose for each color (white tends to be used to mask movement/confuse enemy, etc. only). Sometimes each mission may dictate different color signals for different meanings (lift & shift fire, phase line reached, extract, etc.). In other situations, different colors are meant to mark positions to aircraft to verify that the force on the ground popping smoke is who they say they are.
In peacetime red typically meant that there is an injury and all training is to be halted until the injury is addressed. (Source)
RED and Orange are internationally associated with the distress signal (10 ways to signal SOS). Non-military uses of smoke grenades vary from signaling your position in case you are lost to fireworks, paintball games, self-defense, protests, spectators, airsoft enthusiasts. However, the smoke grenade class is restricted to signaling and concealment under the laws of war, and thus they are not considered weapons. The smoke grenade remains legal for civilian use and ownership in most countries.
How to Make a Real Smoke Grenade – the one hour method
One of the best methods to create a smoke grenade is basically a mixture of potassium nitrate and sugar. The former ingredient is also known as saltpeter and usually it’s not available for purchase. But you may use Spectracide Stump Remover which consists mostly of saltpeter. It works just fine!
- 60g of Saltpeter (sometimes found in Garden Shops) or Spectracide Stump Remover (availabe on Amazon) ;
- 40g of Sugar
- One spoon of Baking Soda
- 3 large spoons Organic Powdered Dye (found at Hobby Shops) – for color smoke bomb;
- Card Tube (or toilet paper tube, soda can)
- Firework fuse or make your own fuse
- Duct Tape
The mix will be placed in a soda can that you have to cut in half. In order to create a good mix for this smoke grenade, add two parts of sugar to three parts of saltpeter. Cook these two ingredients and mix them constantly until they create a golden paste that is rather gooey. Stop the fire now as if you keep the mix on fire any longer, you risk igniting it and you don’t want a smoke grenade in your kitchen.
While the mix is still warm and malleable, pour it into the soda can that you cut earlier. You will have half of a soda can filled with a gooey substance that will soon solidify. This is the moment when you need to put a fuse into the mix. Place a thick string about an inch inside the mix and leave at least two inches outside. Then, you can either refrigerate or freeze the soda can or wait for it to cool down and harden naturally. It will take about 20 minutes for the mixture to be solid and then, you will be able to light it on fire.
However: this is a much more powerful smoke grenade than the next one and you should ignite it only in open environments. Also, try to avoid lighting it near your neighbor’s house as he or she might not be eager to be surrounded by a thick layer of smoke. This smoke grenade is unlikely to put something on fire, because it is contained in a soda can, but you should not leave it unattended, either.
How to upgrade your smoke grenade?
1. Add a pull ring fuse:
2. Add more colors: if you want to upgrade your smoke grenade you can also add more colors. This is not something that can be done with the second type of smoke bomb, as you cannot add color into that solid mix of elements. In order to do this, you can simply use organic food color. Note that you’ll have the best (coloring) results using other formulas (point 3):
3. Use other recipes: some chemicals may not be readily available unless you have access to a chemistry lab, but it’s worth knowing how it’s done. The ingredients are sifted together and ignited to produce the smoke.
Sulfur Smoke Grenade Recipe
Potassium nitrate – 4 parts
Charcoal – 5 parts
Sulfur – 10 parts
Wood dust – 3 parts
Green Smoke Grenade Recipe
Synthetic indigo – 26%
Auramine (yellow) – 15%
Potassium chlorate – 35%
Lactose – 26%
For all the preppers out there: you may consider adding a few smoke grenades to your SHTF arsenal. Especially when setting up home defenses, cover and escape paths. Here are a few efficient and unconventional fast-tips about protecting your home in time of war or social chaos from a well-known army officer vet Steve Walker.
How to Make a Smoke Bomb – the 10 minutes method (to entertain your kids)
These smoke grenades, also known as smoke bombs, are probably something you did as a child. If not, at least you had a friend who did them.
Depending on the size of the smoke bomb, you might want to add any amount of ping pong balls you want.
However, a medium sized smoke grenade is perfect with about 5 balls. Cut all the ping pong balls. This will take you about 10 minutes. Each piece of the ball should have about half-inch in order to be packed with ease into the tinfoil later. Large shards will not burn properly and they might also puncture the tinfoil too. The alternative is to smash the balls and then rip them apart by hand, but this is much more tedious and you could also get a cut, as plastic can also be quite sharp.
Now you can either place them in another ping pong ball that was previously pierced in order for the shards to be placed inside, or you can directly wrap all of the small bits into tinfoil. If you want a single exit point for the smoke, use a pencil as you wrap the shards. Place it in the tinfoil and wrap the foil around it. Then, take the pencil out and you will have a miniature chimney from which the smoke will come out. The final step that you need to perform during this process is to light up the smoke grenade. Light the part with the ping pong ball shards until you see smoke coming out of the “chimney” and then step back.
Other Useful Resources: