Index Home About Blog
From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.pyrotechnics
Subject: Re: PLEASE don't try this at home
Message-ID: <>
Date: 31 Oct 93 23:55:49 GMT (Joseph Hall) writes:

>I recall hearing once upon a time about war-weary soldiers making
>up mixtures of carbon disulfide and white phosphorous for entertainment.
>(Presumably entertainment value derived from igniting the mixture.)

>Anyone here ever try this?  I can't imagine a much more loathsome

Why?  This is a quite common spontaneous combustion demo used in chemistry
class.  Much fun to soak a piece of paper in the solution, lay it aside
and then talk about something else.  Thirty seconds or so and the paper
first smokes a little and then bursts into flames.

I once turned in an English Composition assignment soaked in this mix.
Didn't know my teacher (with whom I'm now good friends) could move
so fast.  She still (20 years later) has not forgiven me.

>For those who might try this at home (not me!!!), some gentle reminders:

>CS2: toxic, horrible, foul-smelling extremely volatile liquid with an
>  IGNITION temperature around that of boiling water, burns readily and
>  quietly with a colorless flame yielding choking, toxic acid fumes,
>  definitely a "stay away and call the EPA" kind of solvent

>WP: extremely toxic soft yellowish-white nonmetal, slowly ignites
>  spontaneously in air on a warm day, powerful fuel, burns readily
>  yielding (sound familiar?) choking, toxic, acid, dense white
>  billowing smoke+fumes, would have killed zillions more soldiers if
>  it were only more soluble in water

You know, the problem is, when you use the scare words on chemical
moderates such as CS2 and P, you don't have anything left to uniquely
describe stuff that really is harmful.

CS2 is moderately toxic, somewhat foul smelling (at least to me) whose
major hazard is suffocation.  It is somewhat sneaky in that it fairly
rapidly deadens the sense of smell so that odor is not a reliable
warning.  A major consideration if you happen to be entering a vat of
the stuff; not too much of a worry when playing with an ounce or two.


Index Home About Blog