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Colored Smoke Recipes

Easy Formulas

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This is a purple smoke grenade, used during a military training exercise.

This is a purple smoke grenade, used during a military training exercise. Typical colored smoke is like a normal white smoke bomb, with a dye released into the smoke.

U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Scott T. Sturkol)
One way to make smoke is to craft a smoke bomb, but you can make a smoke powder, too. Here are some formulations for colored smokes. The parts or percents are by weight. Basically what you do is measure the ingredients, sift them together to mix them, and ignite the powder to produce smoke. Up to 2% sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) may be added to slow the combustion/cool the reaction, if necessary.

White Smoke Recipe

  • Potassium nitrate - 4 parts
  • Charcoal - 5 parts
  • Sulfur - 10 parts
  • Wood dust - 3 parts

Red Smoke Recipe

  • Potassium chlorate - 15%
  • para-nitroaniline red - 65%
  • Lactose - 20%

Green Smoke Recipe

  • Synthetic indigo - 26%
  • Auramine (yellow) - 15%
  • Potassium chlorate - 35%
  • Lactose - 26%

Reference: The formulations for colored smoke bombs came from Wouter's Practical Pyrotechnics, who cited the recipes as originating from L.P. Edel, "Mengen en Roeren", 2nd edition (1936).

Wouter's website is very helpful. Though I didn't see recipes for other colors of smoke, he has an extensive list of formulas for colored fireworks, which you may be able to adapt to make colored smoke.

More Dyes and Colors

If you can order chemicals, here are some of the dyes used to produce more colors:

Red:
Disperse Red 9 (older formulation)
Solvent Red 1 with Disperse Red 11
Solvent Red 27 (C.I. 26125)
Solvent Red 24

Orange:
Solvent Yellow 14 (C.I. 12055)

Yellow:
Vat Yellow 4 with benzanthrone (older formulation)
Solvent Yellow 33
Solvent Yellow 16 (C.I. 12700)
Solvent Yellow 56
Oil Yellow R

Green:
Vat Yellow 4 with benzanthrone and Solvent Green 3 (older formulation)
Solvent Yellow 33 and Solvent Green 3
Solvent Green 3
Oil Green BG

Blue:
Solvent Blue 35 (C.I. 26125)
Solvent Blue 36
Solvent Blue 5

Violet:
Disperse Red 9 with 1,4-diamino-2,3-dihydroanthraquinone
Solvent Violet 13

Wikipedia was the resource used for this list, with no citation of the author's reference, so use care if you try these additional dyes. If you know of a reliable reference for additional colored smoke formulations, please feel free to contact me.

Safety Information

Read and follow the safety information for all the chemicals that you use. Use colored smoke outdoors only, in a well-ventilated area.

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