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Variety makes the world go round; while some prefer the overhead sparkle of aerial fireworks in the night, others love the daytime drama of colored smoke billowing all about. The most popular smoke effect on the consumer market has got to be the “smoke bomb.” If you haven’t ever set one off yourself, you’ve probably seen a buddy light up one of these smoke effects and “ooh and ahh” over the colored curtain of smoke it sends up.

 The smoke bomb, this oldie but goodie is fairly simple pyrotechnic element that is made typically of clay or cardboard with a hollow center. Inside the smoke ball, a cocktail of potassium chlorate, lactose and powdered dye awaits its ultimate fate – to be heated up and dispersed as a jet of fine powder into the air. So, in actuality, the smoke bomb isn’t making smoke, it is just spewing tiny particles everywhere. The typical smoke bomb will create a display for about 10 to 15 seconds.

Some versions of smoke bombs are shaped and decorated on the outside to look like toy army grenades for the fun of military enthusiasts. There are also cylindrical cardboard tubes that are referred to as smoke candles, generators or canisters; actually they look like huge firecrackers. But, instead of making a pop, these items create a thick cloud of smoke for several minutes after the fuse is ignited.  All of these items fall into a family of fireworks that can be used for general fun, air soft and paintball games, self defense and  pranking.  Professional pyrotechnicians may also use smoke canisters or smoke machines with refillable dye cartridges for larger firework shows.

Renowned inventor, Robert Yale, first developed the smoke ball in 1848 based on the Chinese fireworks from the 17th century. After tinkering and experimenting, he was able to modify the ancient design for fireworks so that they produced more smoke which lasted for a longer period of time. Today you can by smoke balls, bombs, candles and cartridges in nearly every color of the rainbow including white and black.
Smoke elements of any type are quite enjoyable to be set off individually or add another layer of visual excitement to your firework show. Imagine watching the colorful bursts from aerial fireworks exploding overhead while noticing a fountain firework spewing with a cloud of smoke from a smoke ball rising from the ground – wow! For safety, remember to always use caution when lighting the fuse on any of your firework items and follow the laws set forth in your local jurisdiction.