• Question: who invented the smoke grenadexx

    Asked by harrison to Cathal, Daphne, Darren, Jon, Katherine on 18 Mar 2012.
    • Photo: Katherine Haxton

      Katherine Haxton answered on 18 Mar 2012:

      Not sure really, probably depends on what kind of smoke grenade. Some use two chemicals, potassium chlorate and lactose, and generate lots of smoke through a chemical reaction. It’s a very similar reaction to the ‘Screaming Jelly Baby’ experiment which you might have seen. If not, there is a good video here: http://scicast.org.uk/films/2009/01/the-screaming-jelly-baby.html

      Other smoke grenades use an element called phosphorus and a certain type of phosphorus reacts with air to form phosphorus pentoxide which is a white smoke. You need explosives to blow up the grenade to spread the phosphorus around to react with the air. Phosphorus will burn skin if it touches it so pretty nasty stuff, particularly if it is used around a lot of people.