World's Biggest Smoke Bomb

How To Set the Guinness World Record for World's Largest Smoke Bomb

This smoke bomb weighs 15 pounds and consists of potassium nitrate with sugar.
Here's the smoke bomb for the Guinness World Record test run. This smoke bomb weighs 15 pounds and consists of potassium nitrate with sugar. Anne Helmenstine

Have you ever wondered just how big the world's biggest smoke bomb would be or how it could be constructed? We built a 15 pound smoke bomb to apply for the Guinness World Record for World's Biggest Smoke Bomb. Here's how the world's biggest smoke bomb was made. Why explain how to do it? Well, one of the requirements for a Guinness World Record is that it be breakable. I'm hoping explaining how it was done will inspire you to make your own smoke bomb and experiment with the possibilities.

It's what science and invention are all about! In addition to this written description, there's also a video, showing the final result.

Smoke Bomb Recipe

There are several ways to produce smoke, but for a device to be a smoke bomb, it needs to produce a lot of smoke. Dry ice and liquid nitrogen produce fog, but that's something different from smoke. If you want real smoke, you can prepare a powdered smoke mixture or make a solid smoke bomb. To make the world's biggest smoke bomb, we went with the traditional saltpeter and sugar mixture. You can get smoke at different ratios of ingredients. We made the smoke bomb using:
  • 3 parts saltpeter or potassium nitrate (Spectracide Stump Remover)
  • 2 parts sucrose (granulated white sugar)
It's possible to make a smoke bomb by dampening these ingredients, mixing them and allowing the formula to dry, but that can take a really long time, plus it doesn't burn as well as the cooked mixture.
We cooked the smoke bomb in relatively small batches on a kitchen stove, pouring each batch into a large cardboard mortar.

Preparing the Smoke Bomb

This smoke bomb formula also is used for model rockets because it produces a lot of pressure as gases are released during combustion. This is great for a rocket, but not desirable for a smoke bomb, so the design needed to prevent the smoke bomb from launching itself.
To accomplish this, holes were drilled into the cardboard mortar so gases would escape in all directions. The completed smoke bomb was placed in a hole and lit from the top so that it would push down into the ground.

Lessons Learned

The design of the smoke bomb worked exactly as planned, but it would have been better if the smoke bomb had burned a little more slowly and with less flame. How can this be achieved? There are two easy fixes. One solution would be to change the ratio of potassium nitrate to sugar. A 1:1 ratio is harder to light, but burns more slowly and produces more smoke. Another solution is to add a small amount of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) to the mixture to moderate the rate of the reaction. For example, if we do this, a typical amount is 1 teaspoon of sodium bicarbonate per 60 grams potassium nitrate and 40 grams sugar.

Try It Yourself - Safety Notes

If you want to make a smoke bomb of your own or potentially break this record, it's best to start small. First, make sure it's legal to make and light smoke bombs where you live. Since they don't explode, smoke bombs are legal in many places that disallow other fireworks, but it's best to know the law before you get started. Also, use common sense. Don't light smoke bombs anywhere you can't manage a fire, should one start. Smoke bombs should only be made and lit under adult supervision.

Start out with the non-cook smoke bomb and then try some of my other recipes. Feel free to write me if you have any questions. Have fun!

Learn More

How To Set a World Record
How To Make a Colored Smoke Bomb
Smoke Bomb Jack-o'-Lantern
mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "World's Biggest Smoke Bomb." ThoughtCo, Nov. 14, 2012, Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. (2012, November 14). World's Biggest Smoke Bomb. Retrieved from Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "World's Biggest Smoke Bomb." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 20, 2018).