How to Make a Smoke Bomb With Ping Pong Balls

Easy Ping Pong Smoke Bomb With no Potassium Nitrate

Ping pong balls are nitrocellulose, so they burn and give off a lot of smoke.
Ping pong balls are nitrocellulose, so they burn and give off a lot of smoke. kayla varley, Getty Images

It's easy to make a smoke bomb! You don't even need any fancy chemicals, like potassium nitrate or ammonium nitrate. Here's how to use a ping pong ball to make a smoke bomb. 

Ping Pong Smoke Bomb Materials

Each ping pong ball makes one smoke bomb. You will need:

  • ping pong ball
  • aluminum foil
  • pencil
  • lighter

Assemble the Smoke Bomb

  1. Start by poking a hole in one side of a ping pong ball.
  2. Keep working at the hole until it's large enough to insert the pencil into it. Put the pencil in the ping pong ball.
  1. Wrap aluminum foil around the ball and the pencil. Don't completely cover the pencil. What you're doing is making a nozzle for the smoke, so work an inch or two up the pencil.
  2. Remove the pencil. The ball plus foil is your finished smoke bomb!
  3. Take the smoke bomb outside and use a lighter flame to heat the foil on the bottom of the ping pong ball until smoke starts to come out of the nozzle. Set the smoke bomb on the ground and enjoy the show!

How a Ping Pong Smoke Bomb Works

You may not have realized it, but ping pong balls are made of nitrocellulose -- the same chemical used to make flash paper and the one that causes old movie reels to burst into flame. Ping pong balls are stable, though, and won't burn unless a heat source is applied. You may wish to burn a ping pong ball to see what's happening inside the smoke bomb:

How To Burn a Ping Pong Ball (safely)

If you burn a ping pong ball in the open, it produces some smoke, but not as much as you'll get if you cover the ball to control the amount of oxygen and thus the rate of combustion.

Making a spout or nozzle to control the incoming air and outgoing smoke also improves the smoke bomb.

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Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "How to Make a Smoke Bomb With Ping Pong Balls." ThoughtCo, Nov. 1, 2017, thoughtco.com/ping-pong-ball-smoke-bombs-609163. Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. (2017, November 1). How to Make a Smoke Bomb With Ping Pong Balls. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/ping-pong-ball-smoke-bombs-609163 Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "How to Make a Smoke Bomb With Ping Pong Balls." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/ping-pong-ball-smoke-bombs-609163 (accessed May 21, 2018).