Google Burners Call For Free Experimentation Zones

google doodleThe link between Google and Burning Man is long and rich. They famously used the Burning Man logo on the Google home page, and in fact the concept of the Google logo changing evolved out of the Burning Man logo. Yes, the first ever “Google Doodle” was a secret sign to those “in the know” that Google might be a bit short staffed for the week due to Burning Man. CEO Eric Schmidt was hired after founders Larry Page and Sergei Brin hung out with him at Burning Man. There’s even been Stanford University studies on the links between Burning Man and Google (a company founded on technology that was spun out of Stanford). Last year, Sergei paid a visit to our camp at Ideate wearing the glassholes Google Glasses.

Will wearable personal tech like Google Goggles transform Burning Man forever?

Well, now it seems that Larry Page is fully embracing the concept of “Temporary Autonomous Zones“, just in time for Google’s pop-up retail launch and foray into the fashion world. Here’s the Verge:

Google CEO Larry Page is holding a rare Q&A session with attendees of today’s Google I/O keynote, and he’s been offering up some pretty unfiltered answers. In response to a question about reducing negativity and focusing on changing the world, Page noted that “the pace of change is increasing” and said that “we haven’t adapted systems to deal with that.” Specifically, he said that “not all change is good” and said that we need to build “mechanisms to allow experimentation.”

That’s when his response got really interesting. “There are many exciting things you could do that are illegal or not allowed by regulation,” Page said. “And that’s good, we don’t want to change the world. But maybe we can set aside a part of the world.” He likened this potential free-experimentation zone to Burning Man and said that we need “some safe places where we can try things and not have to deploy to the entire world.” Google is already well-known for coming up with some pretty interesting ideas — the idea of seeing what Page could come up with in this lawless beta-test country is simultaneously exciting and a bit terrifying.

Here’s what he actually said about Burning Man, according to the Huffington Post:

I like going to Burning Man for example; I’m sure many of you have been. That’s an environment where people can try out different things, but not everybody has to go. I think that’s a great thing too. I think, as technologists, we should have some safe places where we can try out some new things and figure out what’s the effect on society, what’s the effect on people, without having to deploy it into the normal world. People who like those kinds of things can go out and experience that.

The Chrome Zone, Google's new move into retail

The Chrome Zone, Google’s new move into retail

Burner Larry envisions a “Tech Burning Man“, an anarchist’s Utopia:

“There’s many, many exciting and important things you could do that you just can’t do because they are illegal or they are not allowed by regulation. And that makes sense, we don’t want our world to change too fast. But maybe we should set aside some small part of the world … I think as technologists we should have some safe places where we can try out some new things and figure out: What is the effect on society? What is the effect on people? Without having to deploy it into the normal world. And people who like those kinds of things can go there and experience that.””

You mean, like mushrooms? Ayahuasca, perhaps? It all sounds very John Galt.

This is conceptually similar to the ideals of the Peter Thiel-backed non-profit Seasteading Institute, and their plans to create on-shore Charter Cities in places like Honduras. Indeed, Seasteading were all over it, quickly launching a petition at Change.Org where you can vote to support Larry’s concepts (so far: 553 supporters of the 1000 needed for…umm, something). Seasteading sent this letter out to their followers: petition to Larry Page, CEO of Google:

Floating_city_seasteading_orgThe last great advance in governance technology was the American experiment with democracy more than 200 years ago. While democracy has brought health, wealth and happiness to billions of people, we also sense that modern governments are slowing down meaningful reform with one-size-fits-all policies. The clash of old rules and rapidly evolving technology leads us to believe that innovative systems of governance could serve humanity better than modern governments do today. We believe a new frontier is needed to once again test out new ways of living together.

In his keynote address at Google’s I/O event on May 15, the company’s CEO and cofounder Larry Page said, “There’s many, many exciting and important things you could do that you just can’t do because they are illegal or they are not allowed by regulation. And that makes sense, we don’t want our world to change too fast. Butmaybe we should set aside some small part of the world … I think as technologists we should have some safe places where we can try out some new things and figure out: What is the effect on society? What is the effect on people? Without having to deploy it into the normal world. And people who like those kinds of things can go there and experience that.”

sea-steading-1-300x225We applaud Page’s call for the creation of safe places for experimentation, and seek to promote two viable options: seasteading and startup cities. For five years, The Seasteading Institute ( has been conducting research into the potential for permanent, innovative communities – floating at sea. At the same time, The Seasteading Institute’s allies have been working to develop startup cities in existing nations where experiments in governance will be welcomed.

We welcome Page’s voice in the call for a new frontier where innovators can chase their dreams. We encourage Page to invest resources into advancing these initiatives by collaborating with The Seasteading Institute and/or by assigning a team at Google to investigate and advance free-experimentation zones.

The Huffington Post suggests that these “techno-libratarian” (sic) Google zones will be out of the government’s eye:

Google employees have attended company parties in Burning Man, derived costumes, maintained internal email lists devoted to the festival and in 2007, even produced a 37-minute online video on how to cook during the event.”

“As once, 100 years ago, churches translated Max Weber’s protestant ethic into a lived experience for congregations of industrial workers,” writes Turner, explaining Burning Man’s pull for so many of the Bay Area’s tech boosters, “Burning Man transforms the ideals and social structures of bohemian art worlds, their very particular ways of being ‘creative’, into psychological, social and material resources for the workers of a new, supremely fluid world of post-industrial information work.”

bananasboardtheisland_img_0221While Page’s idea conjures images of the Island of Dr. Moreau or Bioshock’s underwater Randian dystopia, Silicon Valley luminaries looking to create a safe space to experiment away from the government’s intrusive eye has long been one of the most ambitious expressions of the region’s techo-libratarian impulse.

We’ve covered the links between Google and Burning Man before – enough so for them to punish us with a relegation to the penalty box. Type “burning man” into Google and you will have to wade through 19 pages of search results before you find us, the largest blog about Burning Man, with the most original content on the subject. You will pass through several pages reposting our content first, including mainstream media sites, and several pages with nothing whatsoever to do with Burning Man. This is in contrast with Page 11 at Bing and 14 at Yahoo.

cctv manMuch as the idea of libertarian neo-tribal Utopias and hi-tech pop-up communities appeals to me, do we really want the Fortune 500 companies being the ones to create our “experiments” with different authority systems? Wouldn’t it just be more of the exact same old paradigm, wrapped up in different packaging?

Which I guess brings us to a deeper, philosophical question: is Burning Man a creature of the Art world, the Corporate world, the Civic Government world, the Music World? Or the Tech world? Is it a child of San Francisco Bay Area, or is it something that could work in other places? We can see how the freedom of Temporary Autonomous Zones led to an explosion in art and innovation; we can also see how the growth of this temporary city led to issues of money, governance, politics, safety, and ultimately, power and control.

Google already knows a great deal about our identityknows when we’re home, knows if we have a dog, predicts what we’re going to think before we do. Now they are going to see and hear everything we do, and know what our responses are to each situation we encounter. Where do we go? Who is with us? What do we say? Do we raise our voice? Are we lying? In 5 years, Google say, they will publicly be operating at the level of at least human intelligence – AKA, the Singularity. AKA, “why the future doesn’t need us“. Do we really want them to know everything we get up to at Burning Man too? Isn’t this the last place to get away from the All Seeing Eye of Big Brother?

You think Google at Burning Man and these other “free” zones only means access to a search engine, if you want to look up something on your Android phone? Think again – Larry’s just sold his vision for the ever-extending tentacles of the Google Megamind at their annual I/O Developer Conference in San Francisco’s Moscone Center:

skynet-logo1Page didn’t sell products, he sold a vision. It’s a vision of a world where technology is an ever-present assistant freeing us from the drudgery of remembering phone numbers, calendar reminders, or ever being lost again. It is a world where everyone has access to the latest in ideas and education. And where those who already have the access and the technical skills bear a responsibility to help spread the best technology has to offer to everyone else

And where Google will conveniently remember everything for us. What’s next, Art Cars that drive themselves? Some of the best times I’ve had at Burning Man started with me getting lost.

I, for one, welcome our new Hive Mind overlords.


Collaborative Coding in [freespace]: Burnerhack

freespace warehouseIf you’ve ever used Burnermap, you’ll know what a useful tool it is. In theory, anyway – it’s surprisingly difficult to find people at Burning Man even if you know their location, while at the same time it’s incredibly easy to run into people totally randomly. Burnermap was created by Micah Daigle and others as something free for us all to benefit from. Taking that spirit further, Micah just announced Burnerhack, an event coming up in San Francisco for the open source and maker community. They’re taking advantage of “[freespace]”, a 14,000 square foot warehouse in the city’s trendy South of Market area that is being offered for free to San Francisco’s creative community for a month.

BurnerHack is an entire weekend full of beautiful people manifesting marvelous creations in preparation for Burning Man.

​Hack on software. Hack on blinky lights. Hack on costumes. Hack on interactive body piercings. Hack on anything your robot heart desires!

WHEN: June 7-9, 2013

WHERE: 1131 Mission St, San Francisco

RSVP via Facebook

Like [ freespace ] on Facebook


1. Get in the Burning Man spirit. You are encouraged to dress in your sparkliest, dustiest, and/or sexiest playa gear.

2. Follow the Ten Principles of Burning Man.

3. This is not a hangout space. If you attend, you should participate in building something! (And if we catch you working on your startup, you’re fired.)

[ )'( ]  PROPOSED PROJECTS  [ )'( ]

  • Updating & improving BurnerMap
  • Creating OpenPlaya, a Black Rock City Wiki 
  • Awesome T-shirt Hack-N-Slash! 
  • Hexayurt construction
  • Training: Crowdfund Your Art Project
  • Planning a post-Burn reintegration event

My Kid Shirtcocked Your Honor Student

by Whatsblem the Pro

BRC: The happiest place on Earth?

BRC: The happiest place on Earth?

We’ve written about children at Burning Man before, and asked our readers to vote in a poll at the end of that article. The debate and discussion continues, and the poll numbers are running heavily in favor of people who think Burning Man is “a wonderful environment” for children, but there may yet be more to think and talk about on the subject.

Regular contributor Elias Has Wanderlust provoked a lively discussion in the Burning Man group on Facebook recently, by flatly asserting that Burning Man should be for adults only. Thus spake Elias:

Burning Man should clearly be an 18+ event — the city is not safe for children.”

Elias’ declamatory salvo brought forth a lot of frank anecdotes about kids on the playa, and some really good points on both sides of the debate. Interspersed with a modest dose of snark and some fairly irrelevant emotional appeals like “there is nothing more beautiful than a playa covered burner baby,” people actually started saying some interesting, illuminating things about bringing children to the playa.

It really is a thorny problem that people butt heads over readily. That should tell us that there are some contradictions in play, depending on the angle from which we approach the question of children at Burning Man; doesn’t radical inclusion make room for children? What about the inhibitory effect that children can have on adults at play? Isn’t Burning Man dangerous, particularly for children. . . but don’t we want our children to be raised in our culture, even if it is dangerous?

Some pros and cons to bringing children to the playa:

The real problem is that only two very partisan solutions have been proposed, and they’re both completely unacceptable to large swathes of burners. If we ban children, we ban a huge number of burner parents by association, and deny them the opportunity to transmit burner culture to their children early in the most meaningful way they know of. If we continue to allow children, they will continue to inhibit us when they show their faces outside of the Kidsville age-ghetto, and let’s face it: it’s only a matter of time before something ugly happens and someone’s child disappears and/or falls victim to one of the many, many hazards.

Your bundle of joy can't drink to forget his bundle of joy

Your bundle of joy can’t drink to forget his bundle of joy

People who think the answer is simple and obvious are merely displaying their bias and perpetuating the conflict. It’s disingenuous to say, for instance, that Black Rock City is a city like any other, and needs to have children in it. Burning Man’s municipal analogy is often usefully apt and sometimes beautiful, but it breaks down completely and easily in a dozen different ways when you start testing it. It’s a bit blinkered to say that Burning Man is just a big adult party, too; it’s also an arts festival, and a DIY theme park, and a great deal of it is very kid-friendly. . . or would be, anyway, if there weren’t so many heavily-intoxicated people around, and if it wasn’t all set in a context of overt sexuality that often goes way, way beyond mere nudity and into some territory that might actually disturb the minds of the innocent to witness.

We need an innovative solution that includes everyone, without putting limitations on anyone.

Maybe there should be separate events, geared for younger age groups? Burning Teen, Burning Tot? If we want to spread the culture, then spawning a few new events might be killing several birds with one stone.

We’d like to hear your ideas. How can we safely include the underage set and their parents in Burning Man, without muting the bacchanal for the adults?

Are ageist ghettos really the best we can do?
Are ageist ghettos really the best we can do?

What we don’t want to hear: more anecdotes or opinions about how it’s fine for kids to be out there, or about how it’s unacceptable for kids to come to Burning Man. We’ve already heard those positions, again and again, and they’re both too simplistic to lead to anything but disagreement and a standoff. We’re asking you to think outside the box and find a solution that everyone can live with.

Keep in mind that not all parents behave responsibly, but some do. . . so please don’t bother sharing anecdotes about the children of attentive, sensible parents having a great time on the playa, or anecdotes about dull-witted earth mamas walking around in dust storms cradling tiny infants. Both of these things happen, and much more, and that’s why we need a better solution than just banning or allowing children.

Your thoughts?

The Largest Ever Art Car

tiki island playa surfersBurners.Me are sponsoring a few projects this year, and one of them is Tiki Island, brought to us from the Playa Surfers crew. I like the idea simply because I was recently in Tahiti – why not have a whimsical reason to support something at Burning Man? None of it is any more meaningful than anything else, so it makes sense to support the projects that resonate with you personally. There is a lot to this project, billed as the largest art car ever on the Playa with a 45-foot diameter platform. The people behind it seem cool, and it seems a good fit with the popular Cargo Cult theme. They will be hiding it somewhere out at Deep Playa – find it on your treasure hunt.

The Playa Surfers are a crew from Venice Beach in Southern California. They seem to have the Pacific attitude to life:

The Playa Surfers are members of a local Burning Man theme camp inspired by the stress-free beach culture of the Pacific. Our goal is to provide a fun, interactive daytime beach experience for attendees of Burning Man and keep that culture going year round in our own lives. If Gidget were a Burner, she would definitely camp with the Playa Surfers. – we are Moondoggie’s Surf Shack on the Playa. 2013 will be our 7th year at Burning Man as a major modern theme camp, and every year we get bigger, better, and stronger as a community. This year we are expecting over 100 campers to join us in the dust at the center of the Earth!

A band of diverse individuals, if you have camped with us before you know that our mantra of surfing the playa translates to a lifestyle of enjoyment and using our unique skills to create some amazing experiences.

Burning Man is about self expression and participation, but not everyone has the spare time or skills to make their own art car or art project. Without the people who fund such projects, as well as the people who give their time and talents to make them, Burning Man would be some coffee, ice, and portapotties. Even costumes take funding – next time you see one of those steampunk leather bikini getups, remember that just because they’re small, doesn’t mean they were cheap. The great thing about all these Kickstarter and Indiegogo projects is that you can support multiple at once. Is giving money to this to support several art cars and theme camps, as valuable a contribution to Burning Man as giving a free 10-hour performance as a dancing clown? Who’s to say. Certainly, I feel that Whatsblem’s contribution to the Control Tower this year is more meaningful and valuable to all of us Burners than me paying for a laser. Particularly since he is going to be documenting his adventure and sharing it with all of us over the next few months. People will get an inside look at what it’s like to create a Burning Man major art installation. They need patrons as well as volunteers. Both things contribute to the party, and both things are valuable. He is spending hours of his life, as are most of the crew on this project. I’m spending a few minutes on a web site. Do we need to judge between them? It’s not America’s Got Talent, it’s the largest free art festival in the world. Every bit of contribution and gifting makes it better. Made by the participants and their financial sponsors – and, as they used to say back in the days of the old skool: NO SPECTATORS. Give what you can, do what you can. If you’re not artistic, then support a few people who are. This is something everyone can do to support Burning Man, no matter how much you can afford to give, and even if you’re not going to be there.

ple The Playa Surfers have a great layout on their web site which we would encourage all Burning Man and Regional Theme camps to adopt – a standardized format would make it easier to parse through the thousands of camps on offer. It goes:

Theme Camp:





Burning Man provides a guide book when you enter, if you have time to read all the details on 1500 or more camps (there’s no pictures). Usually we just wander around, on foot, on bikes, catching a ride on an art car, or flying through the Universe. As the ADHD generation starts to take over from the snarky and sun-wrinkled old-timers, and the paper book gets bigger – fewer people will be reading it. If you want to read go to the library, if you want to pray, go to church, if you want to educate your kids, take them to school. If you want to express yourself, if you want to peacefully coexist with others no matter how freaky they are, if you want to party…go to Burning Man. Start mixing those up and you could get in trouble.

tiki island

HOWTO: Make Your Own Smoke Bombs at Home!

by Whatsblem the Pro


While it’s an amazingly bad idea to fool around with making your own fireworks in general if you don’t happen to have a knowledgeable qualified pyrotechnician on hand, there are some fireworks you can easily make yourself, safely and cheaply and without the risk of losing any extremities.

Smoke bombs top the safe ‘n’ sane list, and in their own way they can be just as fun and useful as even the more extreme blowy-uppy and melty-throughy varieties of recreational DIY combustibles, like tannerite and thermite.

Don't try this at home. Or anywhere else.

Don’t try this at home. Or anywhere else.

Like thermite, smoke bombs are very easy and cheap to make quickly at home, and almost as safe to manufacture, store, and transport. . . but unlike thermite, which is horrifically dangerous once ignited, and shouldn’t be meddled with even in small quantities unless you know exactly what you’re doing, smoke bombs are safe enough that ordinary common sense will prevent you from suffering any serious consequences. Please note that while tannerite is only a little bit tougher to make at home than smoke bombs or thermite, tannerite absorbs water from the air over time and, in the process, can become unstable enough to self-ignite. In other words, if you don’t have someone qualified around, you might want to limit your pyro DIY to smoke bombs.

I’m going to divide the making of smoke bombs into three categories: Basic, Advanced, and Kit. Basic smoke bombs are minimalist things; the Advanced instructions will take the Basic smoke bomb and add various fancy-lad options; Kit smoke bombs provide the best of both, offering ease of manufacture with tons of options (especially for colors).


The most basic smoke bomb of the variety we’re going to discuss requires only two components: ordinary refined white table sugar, and potassium nitrate, aka ‘saltpetre.’ You’ll also need a skillet or frying pan, and some aluminum foil.

Check the label; use 100% potassium nitrate

Check the label; use 100% potassium nitrate

You can buy the sugar at any grocery story, obviously, but where do you get saltpetre?
At the store, of course! Maybe not the supermarket, but Lowe’s or Home Depot or the gardening center at any number of big box stores will usually have it, as will some feed stores and farm supply outlets (potassium nitrate is a fertilizer). Ask for saltpetre or potassium nitrate by name, or look for Spectracide brand Stump Remover or similar products. . . but check the ingredients list on the label, and make sure it says “potassium nitrate,” “saltpetre,” or “KNO3.” Spectracide’s product is 100% potassium nitrate; don’t settle for anything less!

You can also buy online, at any number of places. Check Amazon, or try a chemical supply house. is a pretty comprehensively-stocked distributor of pyro supplies, and can furnish you with everything you’ll need, including saltpetre.

You can also just make your own, if you really want to go to all the trouble, by reacting ammonium nitrate with potassium chloride. . . but we’ll leave those instructions for another time.

So, you’ve got your sugar, and you’ve got your potassium nitrate. You’ll also need a nice big skillet (teflon-coated or other nonstick, if possible), and a range to cook on.

Break up any clumps in the potassium nitrate and the sugar; you want them to be free-flowing, finely-divided powders. THIS IS CRITICAL, as even a small amount of clumping will cause your smoke bombs to be hard to light and prone to going out. Run your ingredients through a sifter if necessary. Once you’ve got them both finely divided, mix them together in a 3:2 ratio. It’s not a critical ratio, so you don’t need to weigh them out; just measure by using a spoon or a scoop of some kind; three scoops of potassium nitrate to every two scoops of sugar.

Warm the skillet over low to medium heat, and put the sugar-saltpetre mixture in it. Stir continuously with a wooden spoon (so you don’t scratch the pan’s nonstick coating) until the mixture melts together and the sugar begins to caramelize; it will resemble smooth, light-colored peanut butter when it’s ready.

I repeat: STIR CONTINUOUSLY, AND DO NOT leave the pan unattended on the stove; this isn’t a terribly dangerous procedure, but if it does catch fire you may not be able to find it to put it out before it fills your entire house with smoke and burns the place to the ground. Even if all you do is smoke up your kitchen, it’s going to attract hordes of flies the next day, so keep stirring and don’t let it catch fire!

Don’t worry about contaminating your skillet; clean-up can be accomplished with nothing but water. Also, potassium nitrate is often used as a food preservative, and this mixture you’ll be working with is entirely non-toxic (but avoid breathing the smoke when you set it off). Eating it isn’t recommended, but it won’t hurt you a bit, and any residue left in the pan after washing is ignorable.

Once you’ve got a nice smooth brown mixture in your pan, treat it like cookie dough (but don’t bake it). Spoon rough spheres of the hot mixture onto a sheet of aluminum foil, and let them cool and harden. Done! Peel them off the foil, take them outside to an appropriate spot, and hold a lit match to one until it catches. Smoke bomb!


Perhaps the most obvious option would be to add a fuse. I won’t go into the intricacies of rolling your own fireworks fuse in this article (maybe another time), but it is doable if you don’t want to simply buy it online. Again, try Amazon, or The type of fuse known as ‘Visco’ and sometimes referred to as “cannon fuse,” “fireworks fuse,” “safety fuse,” or “wick” is ideal, but it’s not critical, as a smoke bomb isn’t going to blow your hand off no matter how iffy the fuse might be.

Adding a fuse can be as simple as shoving a length of your preferred fuse into the smoke bomb right after it leaves the pan, while it’s warm and soft. For best results, poke a hole in the cooling mixture with something rigid that is bigger but not too much bigger than the diameter of your fuse (an ordinary pen works well). Wait an hour, drop the fuse into the hole, then push a small amount of cotton wadding (tear apart a cotton ball) down into the hole alongside the fuse to secure it.

If you want to do the job extra neatly and also make your smoke bomb last longer and give off smoke a little more effectively, add some containment. This can be as easy as filling a section of cardboard tube from a toilet paper roll, paper towel roll, or frozen “push-up” confection with the warm mixture of saltpetre and sugar you’ve prepared, inserting the fuse, and wrapping the whole thing tightly in duct tape with the fuse sticking out, leaving a small open space around the fuse to vent the smoke. Packaging your handiwork this way is also helpful if you intend to store or transport smoke bombs, and don’t want your storage area littered with detritus. Instead of using a cardboard tube and duct tape, you can just wrap your bombs in aluminum foil; this will, however, leave more mess to clean up after the smokeration is over.

If you want to get really super-fancy about it, you can press the hot mixture of sugar and saltpetre into a mold, for a decorative look that says “I buy all my fireworks from Tiffany’s, peasants,” or perhaps a nice hand grenade motif.

Another option: Right after removing your skillet full of fun from the heat, add baking soda to make your smoke bomb burn more slowly and evenly. The proper ratio of saltpetre to sugar and baking soda is 9:6:1; nine parts saltpetre, six parts sugar, and one part baking soda. Mix the baking soda in quickly but thoroughly just before removing the mixture from the pan.

Aniline-based dyes for the win

Aniline-based dyes for the win

What’s more awesome than a homemade smoke bomb? A COLORED homemade smoke bomb! There’s a whole range of colors you can add to these little gems, but you’ll want to be picky about the dye you use. Don’t use water-soluble dyes, like food coloring. These may (or may not) change the color of the flame, but they won’t give you the bright-hued smoke you’re looking for. Aniline dyes, sometimes sold at art supply/craft/hobby stores as “powdered organic” dyes, work well, and you may even be able to find them in the laundry section of your local supermarket. Check the ingredients list on the label carefully to make sure you’re buying an aniline-based dye!

Just after removing the pan full of sugar-saltpetre mixture from the heat, and after mixing in the optional baking soda if you choose to use it, it’s time add the dye. The optimum ratio of saltpetre to sugar to baking soda to dye is 9:6:1:9, so the amount of dye you add should be equal to the amount of saltpetre you used. Again, make sure the dye is finely-divided and free-flowing before you mix it in, and not a mass of lumpy, clumpy, chunks. You should be able to manufacture a huge variety of colored smoke bombs this way, although blue and orange work best with this type of smoke bomb.


Sure, take the easy way out. . . and why not? You can still say you made your smoke bombs at home, and you’ll avoid having to make multiple trips to different types of store to obtain your materials. Smoke bomb kits are an ideal combination of convenience and DIYitude.

Skylighter sells a reasonably stunning array of smoke bomb kits in a whole rainbow of colors (even pink!) that you can put together at home, but they are often out of stock, so you might have to sit on your hands a while before you can get started. Take note: these kits use a different mix of chemicals than our sugar-and-saltpetre concoction, so you’ll want to set this article aside and follow the instructions that come with the kit instead. On the plus side, this different type of smoke bomb offers more vibrant colors than the saltpetre-and-sugar variety.

I shouldn’t have to say this, but I will: BE CAREFUL. Smoke bombs are relatively harmless little beasts, but anything that is on fire poses a hazard, and you do want to avoid inhaling the smoke, although a little won’t hurt you. You can also create quite a hazard by setting these things off in the wrong place; the middle of the freeway is a poor choice of locales for creating a giant opaque wall of colored smoke. Use common sense; it’s nice to stay alive and enjoy your shenanigans without falling into the rookers of the millicents for it.

Burn on!