How to Make a Smoke Grenade

Three Parts:Preparing Your MaterialsMaking Your Smoke GrenadeTrying Variations

A smoke grenade is a firework that releases a cloud of smoke. They're used for military tactical operations and smoke tests. They can also be fun tools for paintball games and just messing around. Even though using a smoke grenade is legal and safe, exercise caution when smoke inhalation is a risk.

Part 1
Preparing Your Materials

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    Gather your ingredients. To make your smoke grenade you will need a few basic ingredients first. It’s best to have your ingredients prepared before you begin to make the process easier along the way. Your ingredients are:
    • Granulated or cane sugar. You can get this at any supermarket, in the baking aisle.
    • Potassium nitrate (also known as “saltpetre”). You can get this at any home improvement store or big box store (like Home Depot or Wal-Mart). If you’re not sure what to look for, ask an employee for a stump remover product.[1]
    • A soda can.
    • 4 to 5 inches of cotton string, for your fuse.
    • Scotch tape.
    • A lighter or match.
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    Get your supplies ready. You will also be using several tools to build your grenade. It’s a good idea to have your tools at the ready for when you need them, to make the process move faster. You will need:
    • Soap and water to clean your can.
    • A pair of scissors to cut the can in half.
    • A 1/4 cup measuring cup to measure out your ingredients.
    • A pot or frying pan to cook your ingredients in.
    • A towel or oven mitten to shield your hand from the heat.
    • A spoon, whisk, stick, or another object to mix ingredients.
    • A stovetop to heat and cook your ingredients on.[2]
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    Prep your ingredients. Prepping your ingredients will help each step go by more smoothly. Being prepared also avoids unnecessary running around or potential accidents in the kitchen.
    • Before you start mixing and cooking your ingredients, grab your soda can. Clean it out using soap and water. Then, cut it in half using your scissors.[3]
    • Break up any clumps you see in the potassium nitrate powder. Run it through a sifter if you have to.
    • Pre-measure out your ingredients. You want to measure about 3 parts potassium nitrate for every 2 parts sugar. That’s ¾ cup of potassium nitrate and ½ cup of sugar total. You can put them in small bowls or containers for now.[4]

Part 2
Making Your Smoke Grenade

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    Place an empty pan on the stove and heat it. Grab your pan and place it on a stovetop burner. Turn the stove on and heat the empty pan over low to medium heat. You’ll add ingredients once the pan is heated.[5]
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    Mix your ingredients. Once the pot has heated up, it’s ready for your ingredients. Since you already have your ingredients measured, all you have to do is pour the potassium nitrate and sugar into the pot.
    • You can mix your ingredients before pouring them in, or pour them in individually from the presorted containers you kept them in. They don’t need to be poured into the pan in any particular order.
    • Mix the ingredients together as you’re pouring them into the pan, using a spoon, wire whisk, or some other mixing tool.
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    Cook the mixture. Keep mixing until the mixture liquefies, stirring constantly. Make sure you only mix it until it becomes liquefied. If you mix too long the mixture can thicken and catch fire.[6]
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    Pour the liquid into the can. Cover your hand in a towel or oven mitten to protect it from the heat. Using that same hand, grab the pot and pour the liquefied solution from the pot into the bottom half of your cut can. You can hold the can with your other hand, or leave it on a flat surface while you pour the liquid into it.[7]
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    Insert the fuse. Cut about 4 to 5 inches of cotton string and insert the string into the middle of the liquid, holding in place. You might have to prop the string up by setting your can next to a wall while it cools off and hardens.
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    Let the liquid harden. With the top of the can still off, set the liquid aside so it can harden. This process usually takes about 6 to 8 hours at room temperature. To speed up the process you can put it in the refrigerator for about 4 to 5 hours.[8]
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    Place the top of the can onto the grenade. Once the liquid has hardened, grab the top of the can from when you cut it off and place it back onto the grenade, securing the two pieces together with scotch tape. Weave the fuse through the top of the soda can through the mouthpiece.
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    Light the grenade. Safely light the grenade by taking a lighter or match and lighting the end of your fuse. After several seconds (once the fuse has fully disappeared) you should see the smoke begin to release.
    • Toss, roll, or otherwise remove the grenade from your hand immediately after lighting it to avoid smoke inhalation.

Part 3
Trying Variations

  1. Image titled Make a Smoke Grenade Step 12
    Add color. For colored smoke, just add some powdered (aniline) dye to your mixture. Be sure to use powdered dye, as liquid dye won’t give you vibrancy of color in the smoke. You can get aniline dye at most art or craft stores.[9]
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    Make smoke “bombs.” Instead of using a soda can, wait for the liquid mixture to harden a little bit and treat it like cookie dough. When it’s the consistency of cookie dough, spoon it into little balls, wrap the ball in tin foil, and stick a small fuse into the ball.
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    Add baking soda. Add some baking soda to the mixture immediately after removing it from the stovetop. This will make your grenade burn more evenly and slowly.[10]
    • For this variation, you will want a ratio of 9 parts potassium nitrate for every six parts sugar for every 1-part baking soda (9:6:1).


  • You can clean your cooking supplies with soap and water. None of the ingredients will contaminate your tools.
  • Don't attempt variations until after mastering the basic smoke grenade.


  • Don’t overcook the mixture. That can also cause it to catch fire. Only cook long enough that the mixture becomes a liquid. Once that happens, remove it from the heat source.
  • Even though the ingredients are all non-toxic, it’s good to avoid breathing in the smoke when you set it off.
  • Be careful when cutting the can it is sharp and can cut you.
  • Do not leave your heating mixture unattended. It can be dangerous. Your kitchen can catch fire or fill with smoke.[11]

Things you will need

  • Empty soda can
  • String for the fuse
  • Sugar and saltpeter (potassium nitrate)
  • A pot or pan to cook your mixture in
  • A stovetop range
  • Tape
  • A spoon or whisk

Article Info

Categories: Bombs