How to make colored smoke bombs using Skylighter's Smoke Mix

You should use protective gloves when making colored smokes, and cover all surfaces with newspaper or some other covering to be thrown away later. Working with smoke mix can be very messy no matter how careful you are. The dyes will stain anything they come in contact with, so lay down newspaper over your work surfaces and protect your hands with rubber gloves.

Skylighter's smoke kit is already pre-measured and ready to go. If you mix all of the dye mix and oxidizer provided in your kit, you'll end up with about 1.25 lbs. of finished smoke composition. Just mix the smoke mix with the potassium chlorate oxidizer.

Mix the chemicals

An easy method for mixing small amounts of insensitive composition is called "bag milling."

Use a plastic bag big enough so it is not more than half full after adding all the chemicals. If you are going to mix the whole kit at one time, dump all of the smoke mix and the potassium chlorate oxidizer into the bag. Use your fingers to break up any lumps while mixing the composition. Once mixed, the material should be a consistent color and have no sign of any lumps. If you're not sure if it's mixed enough, keep mixing. The more you mix, the better the generated smoke will be.

If you want to mix less than the contents of the whole kit, the proportions should be 27% potassium chlorate and 73% smoke mix by weight. You must use an accurate gram scale to weigh them.

smoke mix and chlorate being hand mixed in a bag
Once mixed, your smoke is basically ready to go. It will actually burn just fine in the open without any containment. This is a good way to test how well it's mixed. The composition should light easily with a match or fuse, and burn with little or no visible flame. But to use your smoke for anything practical, you’ll need to build a container for it. In the instructions that follow, that canister will be a paper tube with cardboard end plugs.

Build a smoke canister

Place a small bead of white (Elmer's or carpenter's) glue around the inside lip of the paper tube

tube and matching plug inserting plug into tube

and press the plug into place. Using your fingertips, seat the plug flush with the end of the tube. You can insert the plug either way into the tube. Once this is done, set the tube aside to dry for several hours.

Make a fuse cap

Holding a paper plug between your fingers, poke a hole large enough to slide a length of visco fuse through. The fuse should be cut long enough so that you can push the fuse through the

making a hole in a paper plug visco fuse inserted through a paper plug

cap and all the way to the bottom plug. Set the fuse cap assembly aside for now.

Load smoke composition and cap the tube

spooning smoke mix into tube

Using a small scoop, loosely fill the tube with smoke composition up to about one-quarter inch from the top. There is no need to compact the smoke composition. Keeping it loose and fluffy will increase the burn rate and also improve the color of the smoke produced.

finished smoke bomb with visco fuse
In the same way that you glued the end plug in,
large blue smoke bomb
place a small bead of glue around the inner lip of the canister and slide the fused plug in place. Once done set the canister aside to dry for a couple of hours until the glue is dry.

Once it's dry, just light the fuse and let her smoke!


Suggestions & troubleshooting:

Q: After lighting, the bottom or top plug pops out.
A: Be sure your plugs are thoroughly glued in and that the glue is dry. If they still pop out, increase the size of the smoke vent. Bigger smoke devices need larger orifices for smoke to vent. Try punching several holes in the top plug.

Q: How can I make the smoke comp burn faster?
A: In some instances you may want to generate a lot of smoke very quickly. The best method is to add 5% dextrin and dampen the mixture slightly until it just holds it shape when you squeeze it in your hand. If water comes out when you squeeze it, it's too wet. Then press the dampened composition though a 10-20 mesh screen to granulate it. Once dry, load the granules loosely in a smoke canister.

Q: The smoke is vivid in color for awhile, but then fades to gray.
A: The ash is trapping the sublimed dye. You can either make a smaller or shorter device or mix 15% fine sawdust (-40+60 mesh) into the smoke mix. Either should resolve the problem.
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