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Kristy101081
07-25-2008, 10:50 AM
I've got a character making homemade napalm bombs and I need to know if she can't find a lighter, can she just shot the damn thing to make it explode?

Don't know if you need to know the ingredients, but just in case:

styrofoam cup
vodka
plastic wrap, secured around the top with a rubber band
paper towel ripped to size for the fuse
gun powder from a bullet

She had the gun and found the other stuff in a kitchen, but I think leaving a lighter there is too convenient, so I thought I'd see if shooting it was realistic enough to improvise with.

Thanks for the tips!

jclarkdawe
07-25-2008, 04:43 PM
First off, this sounds more like a Molotov cocktail than napalm. Napalm is a process whereby the flammable liquid (usually gasoline) is turned into a jelly, enabling it to be aimed more accurately and reducing the splash factor.

To ignite the gunpowder, you basically need a spark. Therefore a bullet passing through the gunpowder would ignite it if the bullet struck something causing it to spark, for example hitting some types of rock.

However, if I was in a kitchen, I don't think I'd rely on a bullet. Most kitchens have matches, and that would be my first thought. A gas or electric stove could provide a flame source (electric stove you leave a piece of paper on it once it gets hot). Another source could be the cigarette lighter in a vehicle. Also buried in the glove compartment could be a book of old matches.

I've never used vodka, so I don't know how flammable it would be. A styrofoam cup has a low melting temperature and would not release with much explosive force. A Molotov cocktail relies on the breaking glass to create an explosion. They do not work with plastic bottles.

I'm thinking with the volume and container that you'd end up with a whoosh type explosion, a good flame, but nothing that is likely to do too much damage. It would probably be believable that the flames shoot up to the ceiling.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

MelancholyMan
07-25-2008, 06:29 PM
I've got a character making homemade napalm bombs and I need to know if she can't find a lighter, can she just shot the damn thing to make it explode?

Don't know if you need to know the ingredients, but just in case:

styrofoam cup
vodka
plastic wrap, secured around the top with a rubber band
paper towel ripped to size for the fuse
gun powder from a bullet

She had the gun and found the other stuff in a kitchen, but I think leaving a lighter there is too convenient, so I thought I'd see if shooting it was realistic enough to improvise with.

Thanks for the tips!

1) Napalm doesn't explode. Napalm is a jellified hydrocarbon that is generally contained in a frangible metal container and dropped from an airplane. The energy of impact spreads the napalm which then burns slowly. You actually want Napalm to splash, but you want it to splash in big blobs, not as tiny drops.

2) As opposed to rednecks who every summer blow themselves up starting grills with gasoline, it is actually quite difficult to get gasoline to explode. Believe me, I've played with it enough. Gasoline will only burn in the presence of oxygen. And since gasoline vapor is heavier than air, it tends to sink and displace the air instead of mixing. To mix fuel and air you need a lot of turbulence. So to get it to explode it must be vaporized and mixed with air, and the two must be in something at least close to the proper proportions - around 14:1, air to fuel. Fuel air explosives use a charge to disperse the fuel, then a powerful igniter. Automobiles inject just the right amount of fuel into a cylinder, compress the fuel - which raises the temperature hundreds of degrees - then a 20,000 volt spark.

3) Vodka, or any typical alcoholic drink, is highly resistant to exploding, primarily because they are usually half or more water which makes vaporizing the flammable liquid very difficult. Shooting a bottle of vodka will not make it explode. It will probably not even explode if shot with an incendiary round.

4) Flammable liquids will burn though, but try lighting some vodka some time. It is harder than you think.

5) If you are going for ultimate realism, try a propane canister or maybe garbage bags filled with natural gas from a stove.

6) You do have an ace in the hole. 90% of the population thinks just about anything will explode if you shoot it enough times. Even water. Shoot the bomb, have it blow, and thumb your nose at the 10% who think it's fakey.

-MM

Roger J Carlson
07-25-2008, 06:35 PM
If you want to try a different bomb, you might Google Jolly Roger's Cookbook. It is a writer's dream of homemade mayhem.

Kristy101081
07-25-2008, 07:55 PM
5) If you are going for ultimate realism, try a propane canister or maybe garbage bags filled with natural gas from a stove.


Hmm, this is interesting. And something I don't think I've seen in a film before. Mind if I snag this and play with it a little?

Kristy101081
07-25-2008, 07:56 PM
If you want to try a different bomb, you might Google Jolly Roger's Cookbook. It is a writer's dream of homemade mayhem.

Cool thanks! I could probably do with a read through on this!

MelancholyMan
07-25-2008, 09:47 PM
NOTE: All these methods are in the public domain and can easily be found with even a cursory search. I'm not sharing anything that isn't well known.

We used to fill yard bags with an oxy-acetlyene mix and set those off. Whoom! A yard bag full of gasoline vapors and oxygen would make a hell of a bang, too. And don't forget about all the fun you can have with a 2 liter coke bottle, some Red Evil lye, and a few strips of aluminum foil. It won't cause any damage but is INCREDIBLY loud.

If you want to make pipe bombs, just go out and buy some black powder at a gun store. It is cheap, powerful, and almost completely unregulated. Fill the pipe and stick in some dynamite fuse - also easily obtainable. Extremely powerful bomb, and almost completely reliable. To enhance it by 100X, imerse the pipe bomb in a barrrel of ammonium nitrate soaked with diesel fuel.

Here is another great method if you don't have much to work with. Use a hypodermic syringe to poke a hole in a lightbulb. Use the syringe to fill the lightbulb with gasoline and liquid dishwashing detergent. Then shake. Cover the hole with a piece of scotch tape and screw the bulb back in. When the light gets turned on, you have everything you need! Spark, gas, air - BOOM! Fill a house with propane or natural gas by leaving a stove on and you can blow it sky high using a lightbulb bomb as a trigger.

Small propane canisters are available at hardware and plumbing supply stores. They are used to fuel torches to solder or 'sweat' copper pipes toether. They are smaller than a 2 litre bottle, only cost a few bucks, and it is no stretch to have one explode if shot with a gun.

The absolute best reference for this kind of stuff is a book called, "The Poor Man's James Bond." I don't know if it is still in print but you can probably find scans of it on the internet. It is a very strange tome.

-MM

Adam Israel
07-25-2008, 10:13 PM
I'm pretty sure Mythbusters also covered this type of scenario. This (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MythBusters_%28season_3%29#Car_Capers_-_Exploding_Gas_Tank) is close. It's probably worth a look through their episodes to see if they have something closer to what you're trying to do.

Kristy101081
07-25-2008, 11:22 PM
All very cool ideas. I'm limited to the stuff I have on hand, this is essentially a character being held captive and making an escape. Some of these things she'll be able to find lying around...I like the garbage bags and the light bulb bomb. Those are pretty interesting.

Thanks for the tips everyone! You've given me some great ideas and I can really expound on these within the context of the story.

MelancholyMan
07-26-2008, 12:16 AM
Wrap a large plastic garbage bag full of natural gas from the stove around a lightbulb stripped of the glass - so all you have is a naked filament. Have the goodguy hide under the table. When the bad guys come in and flip the switch the filament will incandesce and set off the gas. It may not kill them but it would sure give someone a headstart on an escape - it helps to know an explosion is about to occur.

-MM

Mike Martyn
07-26-2008, 01:56 AM
[quote=MelancholyMan;2588949]NOTE: All these methods are in the public domain and can easily be found with even a cursory search. I'm not sharing anything that isn't well known.

Quote:

Here is another great method if you don't have much to work with. Use a hypodermic syringe to poke a hole in a lightbulb. Use the syringe to fill the lightbulb with gasoline and liquid dishwashing detergent. Then shake. Cover the hole with a piece of scotch tape and screw the bulb back in. When the light gets turned on, you have everything you need! Spark, gas, air - BOOM! Fill a house with propane or natural gas by leaving a stove on and you can blow it sky high using a lightbulb bomb as a trigger.

End Quote

You beat me to that one. Me and an arachist friend tried this when were about 15. Ran a long extention cord into the woods and hung our light bulb and socket from a tree limb. The explosion was bloody terrifying.

Ah, the stupidity of youth!

MelancholyMan
07-26-2008, 04:55 AM
You beat me to that one. Me and an arachist friend tried this when were about 15. Ran a long extention cord into the woods and hung our light bulb and socket from a tree limb. The explosion was bloody terrifying.

Ah, the stupidity of youth!

A man after my own heart!

I actually saw that one in a movie. I think it was... Lethal Weapon II maybe? Or was it the first one. I can't remember.

JB

Appalachian Writer
07-26-2008, 05:04 AM
You know what? You people are scary. *she shudders at what she reads. blowing things up seems so simple. she checks the windows to see if her ex husband is near*
Really scary! ;)

jclarkdawe
07-26-2008, 05:20 AM
One simple explosion for a kitchen is to stick a bottle in a microwave. Plastic melts a bit quickly and may not be a good as glass. Beer appears to be pretty good. I'd make sure to fill the microwave as close to capacity as possible. Never seen it, but a bottle of bleach exploding would be interesting. Range isn't that high, but depending on how you set up your characters would provide some protection for one and danger for the other.

Another cute device for a kitchen is a glass of bleach or drano thrown in the face. Even better would be a bleach balloon.

I've never seen this, but I'm thinking a can of insect repellent (or any can with propellent) could be interesting. It would cause some arcing, but what the hay, the microwave should be under warranty anyway when you do this sort of stuff.

Also of interest is the combination of bleach and ammonia (which can be supplied by urine). This will produce chlorine gas, which was used by the Nazis in the gas chamber. Putting your hero by the window enables him/her to survive.

Of course there's also just put the pilot out on the stove, open the burners, and wait a couple of minutes. Then throw match on stove.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

MelancholyMan
07-26-2008, 08:10 AM
Cool idea jclarkdawe!

I wonder what would happen if you microwaved a jar of gasoline with a butter knife in it? The gasoline would heat up and vaporize. The knife would cause arcing. I wouldn't want to be in the room.

-MM

Jersey Chick
07-26-2008, 08:22 AM
Wow - you people are scary.

Leaving a lighter there might be cliche or goofy, but I know a lot of people who have matches in their kitchen. Or one of those long kitchen igniters (I use one because the igniters for the burners on my stove need to be fixed and I haven't gotten around to it, so it won't light without a match or the big lighter.)

Kristy101081
07-26-2008, 09:40 AM
Cool idea jclarkdawe!

I wonder what would happen if you microwaved a jar of gasoline with a butter knife in it? The gasoline would heat up and vaporize. The knife would cause arcing. I wouldn't want to be in the room.

-MM


I tried a variation of this...not gasoline, obviously as I'm still around. But, I did stick a butter knife in a can of Raid. This is also the same time in my life that I thought I'd stick a butter knife in the socket, too. I figured one good electric zap deserved an equally cool explosion. My mom was pissed and so was the fire department.

jclarkdawe
07-26-2008, 03:22 PM
Cool idea jclarkdawe!

I wonder what would happen if you microwaved a jar of gasoline with a butter knife in it? The gasoline would heat up and vaporize. The knife would cause arcing. I wouldn't want to be in the room.

-MM

I think you might get some premature detonation with the arcing, but I don't know. Although a butter knife would be good, I'd think about putting in nails or other smaller pieces of metal. Might as well go for the hot metal going all over the room.

Also if you have time, filing the pin on the door so it pops easier allows for more expansion of the explosion.

Remember to store your warranty card in a different room. When the microwave is destroyed, you want to be able to get a replacement.

Also, if you want to tier the explosion, when you turn on the microwave, turn on the stove with the pilots off. Get that gas bubble going for the secondary explosion. It should go off about a half a second behind the microwave.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

Tornadoboy
07-26-2008, 06:47 PM
I haven't read the whole thread yet so this kind of thing may have already been covered, but being in a kitchen there are a few possibilities for igniting stuff without matches.

First she could pull out some electrical wiring and cause a spark with that, perhaps tearing out the wires going to a garbage disposal, stripping the ends and placing them close enough so that when she throws the switch there will be a spark.

Another idea is an old survivalist trick, which is to take a 9-volt battery and touch it to a pad of steel wool, which will actually overheat the small fibers and cause them to ignite. Finding steel wool in a kitchen is totally believable and she can get the battery from a smoke alarm.

This trick is generally talked about when it comes to surviving while lost in the wilderness, which cracks me up, because if you have the foresight to put a battery and steel wool in your backpack then you have enough to just pack extra lighters and fire starters.

Quick note! Don't use pads that have soap in them because they won't ignite, just clean and unused pads.

Kathie Freeman
07-26-2008, 07:19 PM
Ahem. This is Homeland Security and you're all under arrest. Just line up and follow me to Gitmo.

MelancholyMan
07-26-2008, 10:59 PM
You know what? You people are scary. *she shudders at what she reads. blowing things up seems so simple. she checks the windows to see if her ex husband is near*
Really scary! ;)

That's why it is impossible to take away people's guns and expect violence to stop. Bombs and even guns are incredibly easy to make. You can kill with a branch that fell from a tree. With a lathe, a milling machine, and a drill you can build a submachine gun. Of course I don't do any of the things I have suggested. Oh no. I play legally. My company (http://www.ducommun.com/milover.html)designs missiles to kill tanks and stuff like that. Might makes right! ;)

-MM

Kathie Freeman
07-27-2008, 12:53 AM
Seriously, though, while gasoline in liquid form is not explosive, the vapors definitely are (that's what makes cars go). There was a lot of trouble with this during the gas shortage of the '70's, people storing gas in all kinds of inappropriate containers, fumes leaking over to the nearest pilot light - KA-BOOM! Assuming you want your mc to survive the intended explosion, I'd stay away from things like gasoline or natural gas. Unless she is an expert and knows just how much, she could wind up a crispy critter.

Tornadoboy
07-27-2008, 03:40 AM
Ahem. This is Homeland Security and you're all under arrest. Just line up and follow me to Gitmo.

Hey I survived 12 years of public school pal, you don't scare me! :e2moon:

MelancholyMan
07-27-2008, 06:00 AM
Ahem. This is Homeland Security and you're all under arrest. Just line up and follow me to Gitmo.

It isn't Ahem, it's Ahmed. I'm alread in Gitmo but my lawyer exercised my human right to have a computer and internet access.

jclarkdawe
07-27-2008, 06:51 AM
Ahem. This is Homeland Security and you're all under arrest. Just line up and follow me to Gitmo.

Since I'm in query letter hell with only occasional passes allowed outside of there, Gitmo sounds like an improvement. At least it might be a little bit cooler.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe