How to Make Colorful Smoke Bombs

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Smoke bombs are relatively easy to make, safe to use and make a big impression at your party or event. They also have the added bonus of keeping mosquitoes at bay. It can be difficult to get small quantities of organic powdered dyes, so buy two-part colored smoke mixes from a fireworks or pyrotechnics supplier. Some suppliers sell kits containing everything you need to make colorful smoke bombs.

Things You'll Need

  • Rubber gloves
  • Dust mask
  • Newspaper
  • Cardboard tube
  • 2 paper end caps
  • Cardboard (a cereal box or similar)
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Masking tape 
  • Screwdriver
  • Colored smoke mix
  • Potassium chlorate 
  • Scales
  • Paper cups
  • 2 blade-type coffee mills
  • Mixing tub
  • 20–30 mesh screen kitchen strainer
  • Sandwich bags with zip closure
  • Paper plate
  • Fiberglass strapping tape
  • Green visco fuse 
  • Razor blade
  • Awl 
  1. Prepare the Work Space

  2. Wear rubber gloves and a dust mask. Cover all work surfaces with newspaper. Work on your smoke bomb outside on a dry, calm day.

  3. Prepare the End Caps

  4. Stand the cardboard tube on a piece of cardboard and draw around the base with a pencil. Repeat until you have four disc shapes on the cardboard. Cut out the discs and glue two discs into each end cap to make them stronger. Set one end cap aside to dry. Glue the other end cap on one end of the tube and secure it with a 6-inch strip of masking tape. Leave it to dry. When the glue is dry on the loose end cap, punch a 1/4-inch hole in the middle of the cap. Cover the hole with a section of masking tape. Mark the location of the hole on the masking tape.

  5. Mill the Components

  6. Weigh 2 ounces of colored smoke mix into a paper cup. Weigh 0.74 ounces of potassium chlorate into another, separate paper cup. Mill the smoke mix in one blade-type coffee mill, pulsing the mill for five seconds at a time for around 30 seconds. Mill the potassium chlorate in another, separate blade-type coffee mill, using the same process. Make sure each component is finely pulverized and uniform throughout.

  7. Mix the Components

  8. Mix the two milled components in a mixing tub and weigh the mixture to ensure it is 2.74 ounces. Put a lid on the mixing tub, making sure it is secure, and shake the tub. Pour the mixture onto a 20–30 mesh screen kitchen strainer held over a sheet of newspaper. Sift the mixture through the screen onto the newspaper. Break up any remaining lumps. Put the mixture back into the mixing tub. Repeat the shaking and screening process another two times.

  9. Divide the Mixture

  10. Split the mixture into two paper cups, weighing each amount to ensure it is evenly split. Put each batch into its own sandwich bag and close the seal.

  11. Fill the Tubes

  12. Place one of the capped cardboard tubes on a paper plate. Cut a 1/2-inch by 1/2-inch corner from the sandwich bag. Fill the tube with the smoke mixture. Apply glue to the inside edge of the loose end cap and place the cap on the tube. Secure the cap with masking tape. Reinforce the end cap with vertical strips of 1/2-inch fiberglass strapping tape. Make sure you leave the marked vent hole location clear.

  13. Install Ignition Fuse

  14. Cut a 6-inch piece of green visco fuse with a razor blade. Pierce the marked vent hole with an awl and place 3 inches of the fuse into the tube. Bend the fuse so it lies flat against the end cap. Cover the fuse and vent hole with a piece of masking tape.

  15. Ignite Fuse

  16. To set off your smoke bomb, place it upright on its bottom end cap and ignite.


    • If you have worked on black powder projects before, never use the same equipment for your colored smoke bombs. Black powder projects use sulfur, and colored smoke bombs contain potassium chlorate. Spontaneous combustion can occur if sulfur and potassium chlorate mix.

      Adult supervision is required when making smoke bombs. Only work on and light a smoke bomb outside in a well-ventilated area.

      Smoke dye is dirty and messy and permanently stains anything it comes in contact with, so take all necessary safety precautions.


About the Author

Claire is a writer and editor with 18 years' experience. She writes about science and health for a range of digital publications, including Reader's Digest, HealthCentral, Vice and Zocdoc.