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The classic high school flour bomb demonstration shows the explosive power
of flammable powders under the right circumstances
There have been cases of custard powderetc factories blowing up in a
spectacular fashion because of this effect but I don't know the details.
Perhaps some who does would care to add something here
1. Apparatus should be enclosed in safety screens.
2. Everyone to wear safety goggles.
3. Coffee tin needs to be wrapped in sticky back plastic or sellotape.
4. Pupils and staff to stand at least 2 metres back.
5. When lighting the candle and placing the lid on the coffee tin keep
your head out the way.
6. Do not use a glass funnel.
* 500g coffee tin with lid (not too stiff a fit).
* Funnel with bottom edge flat to put flour in - can be made from plastic
* Single hole bung to put funnel through.
* Small candle.
* Bulb-type pipette filler.
* One spatula of dry flour (does not work as well if damp).
* Splint and matches.
Method to make bomb
1. Make a hole in the coffee tin the same size as your bung at
approximately the same height as the centre of the flame of the candle.
2. Push the funnel into narrow end of the bung as far as it will go, then
insert this into the hole in your coffee tin (funnel on the inside).
Attach the pipette bulb to the narrow end of the funnel. There needs to
make a tight seal.
Method for demonstration
1. Put a spatula of flour (cornflour, custard powder etc will do very
well) into the funnel, blocking the tube from the pipette bulb.
2. Put the candle inside the coffee tin (approximately in the centre).
3. Light the candle carefully using the splint (making sure not to light
4. Fit the lid securely, without too much force, and then quickly give the
pipette bulb a rapid squeeze.
The large surface area of the carbohydrate (flour) means that it is rapidly
oxidised. There is a loud WHOOMP and the lid flies off (normally vertically)
about 4 feet up.