from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A bomb designed to give out thick smoke upon exploding, used especially to mark a target or to create a smoke screen.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a bomb that gives off thick smoke when it explodes; used to make a smoke screen or to mark a position


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  • "Sometimes it becomes strategically correct to confuse the opposition and provide a smoke screen to aid an escape. A real home-made smoke bomb can be made by combining four parts sugar to six parts saltpeter (available at all chemical supply stores). This mixture must then be heated over a very low flame. It will blend into a plastic substance. When this starts to gel, remove from the heat and allow the plastic to cool. Embed a few wooden match heads into the mass while it's still pliable and attach a fuse."

    - Abbie Hoffman, 'Steal This Book', 1971.

    February 18, 2009

  • The most famous consumer smoke device is probably the "smoke ball" or "smoke bomb", a large ball of clay with a hollow center. Inside the center is a composition that usually consists of potassium chlorate, lactose, and a powdered dye. When ignited, this composition burns at a relatively low temperature, which evaporates the dye into fine particles and disperses them into the air (so the colored "smoke" isn't actually smoke at all).

    The smoke composition must be "cooled off" fairly quickly after ignition, or else the dye particles will react with oxygen to burn up. This is why smoke is always observed rapidly exiting the burning chamber. If you hold a smoke device too close to a solid object, the burning particles can't get away fast enough to cool down. At this point, the device will begin emitting a flame rather than smoke.

    February 18, 2008