How to Make Smoke Bombs

Disclaimer: the advice given in this article is for information purposes only. Before making smoke bombs, check the rules and regulations where you live. Always use protective equipment.

Smoke bombs are a firework-like piece of equipment that, as the name suggests, will produce smoke once they are ignited. They have found a place in the military, with law enforcement, and in paintball or air soft matches. But there’s another place where they will be equally useful, in a survival or disaster situation.


Before we dive into the different methods to make smoke bombs, it’s important that we first run down the various instances where they could save your life. This way you’ll understand why they are a necessary component of a disaster or survival plan, and you’ll also feel more motivated to make them using the methods that we will discuss later on.

There will no doubt be scenarios in a disaster situation where you will want to be fully visible.  But there will also be scenarios where you will want to be invisible. The beauty of smoke bombs is that they can potentially save your life in both of these instances.

In a wilderness situation, if you are lost or in trouble and need to be visible, smoke bombs that are colored can also signal for help. Red and yellow colored smoke bombs work best for this scenario because they also stand out the best against the natural colors of the wilderness.

In a grid down scenario, looters and raiders will be a major threat in both urban and suburban areas.  One of the best defenses you can have to protecting your home, assuming you chosen to bug in rather than bug out, is to convey the sense that your house is not worth taking. Black colored smoke bombs from within your house can create the impression that your home is on fire, and any burglars or raiders will hopefully move on to the next home.

The next scenario for how a smoke bomb could save your life is probably the one that you had in mind all along: it temporarily hides you from being a target. Even though smoke bombs will produce their smoke for only one to four minutes at the most, just a couple of them is enough to screen an area and allow you to find cover or make a daring escape.

Smoke bombs are an incredibly valuable survival item and these are just three of the survival scenarios where they can save your life. You should absolutely have at least two or three of them in your survival pack, your bug out bag, and your home survival kit.

But do you know how to make smoke bombs on your own with completely ordinary products that we take for granted? If not, the next three methods will teach you how you can.


Now that we have learned why smoke bombs are important and how they can save your life, we can start to talk about how to make them. Our first method is the Potassium Nitrate, Corn Syrup and Sugar method.


  • Cane Sugar
  • Corn Syrup (preferably dark)
  • Potassium Nitrate
  • Water
  • Scale That Measures in Grams
  • Sauce Pan
  • Wooden Spoon
  • Cardboard Tube
  • Fuse

All of the above items you should either already have or have easy access to buy at stores prior to a post-SHTF event. You can also use substitutes for some of these things. For example, instead of cane sugar, you can use regular sugar if necessary. Or if you don’t have potassium nitrate available, hi-yield stump remover has over ninety-nine percent potassium nitrate in it.  Light corn syrup can also be used in place of dark corn syrup.


  • Measure out thirty grams of potassium nitrate
  • Pour the potassium nitrate into your sauce pan
  • Measure out twenty-five grams of sugar, and then also pour it into the sauce pan
  • Pour two drops worth of the corn syrup into the sauce pan
  • Pour a cup of hot water into your sauce pan; the potassium nitrate should dissolve. If not, stir until dissolved.
  • Heat your sauce pan over a medium to high flame and bring it almost to a boil
  • In a half hour to an hour the water should be cooked off, and the mixture will morph into a paste like substance
  • Bring the temperature of the heat down to low after the paste has formed or started to form
  • Continue to keep the sauce pan over the flame until after all the water has been cooked out of the paste
  • Move your sauce pan around until the paste comes together in the center of it
  • Remove the sauce pan from the stove and allow it to cool off for at least three minutes
  • As the paste starts to cool down, it will also start to harden
  • Take the spoon and transfer the paste into your cardboard tube; try to keep as much of the paste together as you can rather than allowing it to separate.
  • Take your fuse and insert one end of it at least a half inch into the mixture in the cardboard tube
  • Cap off the ends of the cardboard tube and drill a hole through one of the caps for your fuse to fit through

That’s it! Assuming you used all of the right ingredients and followed the directions correctly, you now have a smoke bomb that will produce dark smoke when lighted. Dark smoke is almost always better than white smoke for survival/disaster purposes, which is why the dark corn syrup and cane sugar are recommended.

This smoke bomb will burn very violently after it has caught fire, so when testing it out, make sure that you do in a place where it will not start a fire for safety purposes. In addition, this smoke bomb must be stored in a dry location or else it will not work right when you need it to.


Yes, you really can make a DIY smoke bomb that works effectively out of little more than ping pong balls. It will produce whatever color of smoke that your ping pong balls are.  Let’s see how you can:


  • Four Ping Pong Balls (color determines the color of the smoke)
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Screwdriver
  • Scissors
  • Pencil


  • Cut a hole into one of the ping pong balls; use either a knife or a screwdriver
  • Take the three other ping pong balls and cut them up into smaller sized pieces
  • Place these pieces into the hole of the first ping pong ball
  • Take a pencil and stick it into the hole of the first ping pong ball; the purpose of the pencil is to make a mold for the foil in the next step
  • Wrap everything in your aluminum foil
  • Pull the pencil out of the aluminum foil, but the pencil’s shape should still remain (this will serve as the chimney that the smoke will then travel through
  • To use the smoke bomb, light a flame underneath the ball
  • Shortly, the smoke will then travel out of the hole and the chimney
  • Toss the smoke bomb and allow it to smoke; make sure it’s in a safe area and that you don’t breathe in the smoke.

To visually see how to make smoke bombs out of ping pong balls, check out this



This method of making smoke bombs produces white smoke and can be made with little more than your morning newspapers and the cold packs that you probably already have in your freezer. If you don’t have any cold packs, you can purchase them at most grocery or drug stores


  • Cold Pack
  • Gloves
  • Knife
  • Bucket
  • 10 Sheets of Newspaper
  • Water
  • String or Cordage


  • Take the cold pack and open it up to access the ammonium nitrate
  • Take out the water bag that is inside of the cold pack
  • Put on your gloves and exercise caution around the granules; it can be slightly toxic to inhale or get on your skin
  • Pour the granules into your bucket and slowly pour water into the bucket; if you pour too much, however, the bombs will not smoke
  • Stir around the granules until they have dissolved; this will form your ammonium nitrate solution
  • Take ten sheets of newspaper, and then fold each of them over twice so that you get quarter squares
  • Dip each sheet into the solution of ammonium nitrate for thirty seconds apiece
  • Remove the sheets and unfold them; do so carefully to avoid ripping or tearing the sheets
  • Lay out the sheet on a flat surface under the sun; your driveway is a great place to do this, but make sure that it’s not on a particularly windy day and hold down the sheets with rocks over the corners
  • Lift the paper up off of the pavement once it is easy to do so
  • Roll up each of the sheets and then wrap a string around the middle; don’t wrap them too tight or too loosely
  • At this point, your ammonium nitrate smoke bombs are technically complete, but you can choose whether you would like to keep them at this length or cut them into shorter pieces (the shorter the piece the less smoke there will be)

If not much smoke is produced when you light the smoke bomb, the reason why is probably because you added too much water to the bucket.

Remember to exercise caution throughout this process. After you are finished putting the smoke bomb together, wash your hands with soap thoroughly and consider taking a shower to be safe if any gets on the rest of your skin.

A video demonstration of how to make smoke bombs out of newspapers and the ammonium nitrate in cold packs can be found here:

Part 1 how to make instant ice pack smoke bombs


Making smoke bombs out of everyday items is an important skill when it comes to survival and preparedness, but unfortunately it’s also one that many preppers overlook.  Smoke bombs are legal in all fifty states, and so long as you use them safely (avoid testing them near roads or in a public area, for example) you can test them out as much as you want.

In this article you have been taught three different methods for producing homemade smoke bombs out of simple house items that we take for granted on a day to day basis. After you’ve made these smoke bombs, place two or three of them in your bug out bag and your home survival kit, so that they will always be ready for when you need them.  High humidity, heat, and moisture will all decrease the life of your smoke bombs.  For that reason, always store your smoke bombs in cool and dry locations to get the longest shelf life.

As a final note, remember to put safety as your first and foremost concern when making, testing, and storing your smoke bombs. Always wash your hands before and after making your smoke bombs, make sure you follow the steps exactly as we outlined them and have the right materials ready. Never test out your smoke bombs in an area that could easily catch fire.  Have a fire extinguisher handy and consider wearing protective gloves and safety goggles when testing as well.

Once you’ve made and tested your smoke bombs, you can take comfort in knowing that your survival and disaster preparedness skills have just been upped a notch and your chances of survival have increased. Good luck!

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1 thought on “How to Make Smoke Bombs”

  1. I’ve done the POTASSIUM NITRATE, CORN SYRUP AND SUGAR method since I was about 13y/o(I’m 67, now). Start with a small batch first as there is a learning curve. When you cook it or boil it down and it starts to turn into a paste, turn the heat down some and work it around. The moment when it starts to ‘brown’ take it off the heat and let it cool. The moment it starts ‘browning’ you are close to…shall I say ‘ignition’. It may need to dry some more so let it air out. After it dries pack it how you want, but keep it away from flame or excessive heat.


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