Sometimes you just have to escape from a sticky situation. And when that happens, you need some kind of diversion to confuse people so they won't come after you. That's why Batman (and various stage magicians) have given us the wonder of smoke bombs. But how do you make them yourself?
Here's our easy tutorial on how to make an entirely fuse-less smoke bomb that you can throw on the ground for cover when you need to flee the scene.
There are a lot recipes for smoke bombs out there, but most of them involve lighting a fuse. Nuts to that. You don't want to be awkwardly smiling at people as you fumble around for a lighter, get the fuse going, watch it burn down for a bit, and then make our escape. We want to be the person who raises their arm high, throws a pellet to the ground, and escapes, cackling, through the billowing smoke. Forget the safety of fuses and lead time! We want something that goes off right away!
. . . . But now that I've mentioned safety, let's talk a little bit about that, before we progress any further. Smoke pellets are made to aid an escape. They might do just, provided you throw them to the ground on a nonflammable surface, in a well-ventilated area, with plenty of room around you. Doing it anywhere else — like indoors or on dry grass — might allow you to make an escape, but there would be people coming to round you up sooner or later, and they won't have happy looks on their faces. Keep that in mind when making and using these.
With that out of the way, here's how to do it.
Where there's smoke, there's fire, and you need something to burn baby burn. In almost all cases, that something is saltpeter, also known as potassium nitrate, also known as 'stump remover.' Saltpeter was used to blow stumps out of the soil, and as an ingredient in gunpowder, and as a component in fuses. It's going to burn. Because of its regular role as remover of unwanted tree parts, it can often be found at gardening supply stores. (Yep. There's more to gardeners than meets the eye.)
Since the saltpeter is explosive, you'll want very little of it in your smoke bomb. Too much, and it won't be a smoke bomb — it'll be a just plain bomb. Some recipes for these have up to three tablespoons of the stuff in there, but those are the ones with fuses. To start out, use under ten grams. That should be no more than a sprinkling.
Next, you need something to burn up and disperse as smoke — something that won't kill people who come in contact with it. Sugar works best. Start small with this, too. Use a teaspoon to a tablespoon, and if you need more you can work up to a few tablespoons at a time.
Mix the saltpeter and the sugar together thoroughly. Cut a five or six inch square piece of plastic bag, and pour in the powders. Make a tight satchel out of the bag and tape the whole thing closed. Cut a bigger square of cloth. Felt is good. Now cut about a hundred match heads off matches - yes, a hundred or more, and the matches should be the sturdy kind found in boxes, with big pink heads. Put about half the match heads in the center of the cloth. Put the satchel of plastic over the match heads. Turn the cloth into a bigger satchel and put the rest of the match heads on top of the plastic bag. Pull the cloth tight and tape that shut. Handle. With. Care.
When you throw the satchel down hard on the ground, the match heads will ignite. They'll ignite the saltpeter, which will burn the sugar and create smoke. This pellet will not just smoke. It will flame on the ground, so go out in an open area and throw it on concrete. Experiment — oh so carefully, people — with different amounts of saltpeter and sugar. Work until you find a good combination of saltpeter, sugar, and matches, and then never use it. Just content yourself with watching this youtube video of a ten pound smoke bomb, and know that you could be Batman if you wanted to.