The ultimate list of smoke grenade fails


We know a thing or two about smoke grenades. It’s fair to say that if you are a user of smoke grenades (or smoke bombs as they are also know), the chances are, it’s one of ours. We made coloured smoke popular and we were the company that made it accessible and safe for the general user. However, it doesn’t matter how vigilant we are as a company, when you sell enough smoke grenades, they eventually find their way into the hands of the ‘not so clever’.

Trawling through our archive of emails and phone calls over the past 20 years we have collated a list of mishaps and ‘dunce hat’ incidents. Oddly it’s fair to say that not everyone who has fumbled a smoke grenade is an idiot, but by not reading the instructions, you kind of render yourself as a bit of an idiot.

So, in no set order of idiocy, here we go…

1. Non-toxic means you can breathe it.

No it doesn’t. Smoke is smoke and it’s not particularly nice to breath. Even though we have managed to design smoke compositions that are non-toxic, if you fill a room with smoke and then think you can go about breathing normally, you may find yourself coughing up and sneezing rainbows.

2. Cool burn means it's cold.

One of our favourite questions is… ‘is it cold burn smoke?’ The pyrotechnic industry must take some responsibility for this term as it has been used for many years. The term seeks to differentiate between the super-hot military smoke that is encased in metal containers and the commercial smoke that is commonly seen to be handheld. If you hold a military smoke grenade it will of course fuse itself to your hand permanently. We have ceased using this term as we deem it misleading.

However, the term ‘cool burn’ is still banded around for the ‘few’ to get totally confused. So let’s be clear with this…. A smoke grenade is a pyrotechnic device and the smoke coming out of it is very hot. Yes, the body stays cool enough to hold, but if you try to cover the nozzle with your hand because you want the smoke to stop, it’s going to give you a nasty shock and there’s the possibility you will look like you’re holding a baby phoenix.

3. Legal means you can use it anywhere.

The law has so many blurred lines. The legal system can’t account for every detail in life, so it falls to the responsibility of normal human beings to make very fine calculations on a minute by minute basis for our own survival. Kitchen knives are legal, but should you choose to wield it in the high street, your shiny carrot chopper will transform into a set of hand cuffs just like magic. The same thing can be applied to smoke grenades. Perfectly legal, just choose wisely where you wish to use them. Private land, Paintball/Airsoft Fields, areas where permission has been granted…..You’re good to go.

There’s a wash of Instagram pics shot in many different exotic places, some of which have been achieved without any social concern, whilst others are riskier. There are instances where the fine line has been crossed and that innocent photoshoot has turned in to the annual general meeting for the fire service. Don’t be that Dick.

However, the term ‘cool burn’ is still banded around for the ‘few’ to get totally confused. So let’s be clear with this…. A smoke grenade is a pyrotechnic device and the smoke coming out of it is very hot. Yes, the body stays cool enough to hold, but if you try to cover the nozzle with your hand because you want the smoke to stop, it’s going to give you a nasty shock and there’s the possibility you will look like you’re holding a baby phoenix.

4. I popped one in the post to my mate.

There are certain things that you can’t ‘pop in the post’. We now print on the side of the label ‘do not post’ as the obvious is clearly not obvious. You wouldn’t mail your Shih Tzu puppy to the vets when it needs its bollocks cut off as it may bite the postman, likewise you shouldn’t post smoke grenades either as they may go off causing mild concern or mass panic in this terrorist era we live in.

5. The wire snapped and then I read the instructions afterwards.

The biggest mistake made by users of our smoke grenades is fumbling the ignition. There’s pictograms on the side which easily project instructions directly into your grey matter without any need for exerting energy in the form of reading. But even these pictograms can be too much effort for the excited human when faced with an unspent pyrotechnic. The overpowering desire to ‘let it off’ is so all-consuming that only the dads amongst us turn the product onto its side to reference the correct use.

In a recent survey it found that 64% of men didn’t read the instructions before calling tech support.

By reading the instructions you enter a whole new world that is filled with considerably less frustration. The alternative is the photoshoot scenario you now find yourself in where you only bought one smoke grenade, fumbled the ignition by not pulling sideways and you’re now cursing us for bad design.

6. It's not real smoke so I didn't realise it was going to set off every fire alarm in the area.

Smoke grenades have tendrils that can seek out even the hardest to reach fire alarms. In first world cities, fire alarms can even out number rats. Did you know you are never further than 10 meters from one of these white squealers? It’s worth bearing this in mind next time you host your photoshoot down a narrow alley full of flats and offices.

7. I'm over 18 and I gave it to my kid as he's responsible

Your faith in teenagers has been blindsided by your unwaning love of your kid. Even the 14 years of programming you’ve put into your child has no match for the peer pressure in his social circle. So, he let a smoke bomb off at school and now his education has gone to shit you say?

8. I tried to stop the smoke coming out.

You can blow the candles out on your birthday cake, you can throw water over a bonfire, you can even put out a burning chip pan with a fire blanket. However, the one thing you can’t put out is the smoke grenade you’ve just started; it has its own oxygen source built into it. Unlike most British builders, once it’s started, it’s going to complete its task. You smoke grenade will keep pumping out smoke until all the composition inside has been burnt. You can submerge it in water, but even this won’t stop it.

9. I got arrested for having it at a football ground and I didn't even let it off.

This is a true story and what makes it even funnier is that the guy was thrown in jail for a year. There was probably more to this than just a smoke grenade in his pocket when caught leaving the stadium, he was probably already on the police radar for being a total bell end, the smoke grenade gave them something to pin on him. You see pyrotechnics are illegal in sports grounds in the UK and you can now add that to music festivals. The law was updated in 2017 in include music festivals, and rightly so, people need to be able to walk away from the smoke produced and crowded areas do not allow this.

10. I threw a smoke bomb into my mate’s car for a laugh.

The differences between having a cigarette in the car or letting off a smoke grenade off in a car is considerable. It’s fair to say that the car will never be the same again. Most notable the colour of the inside will change to that of the smoke grenade, it will take more than a thousand magic trees to be habitable again and the blim hole in the seat the size of a fist made for good conversation.

11. I took one on holiday and all hell broke loose at the airport

Winner of the bonehead of the year award goes to a gentleman who decided to pack a smoke grenade neatly into his suitcase for use abroad.

We will keep this simple….. A smoke grenade is a pyrotechnic, a pyrotechnic is classified as an explosive. So, by packing one into your luggage, not matter how well wrapped up in your underpants it is, you’re taking an explosive onto an airplane. In today’s world I think I would rather go swimming with piranha wearing a bacon bikini than try board a plane with explosives……

12. End

Be safe. Read the instructions. Consider others. Don’t be a Dick. Thank you.

1 comment on “The ultimate list of smoke grenade fails


Good morning,
Just a enquiry, do you smoke grenades leave colour on collotjing ect? Can they be handheld whilst going off. We are thinking of having them for a wedding photo shoot in June, please advise. Thank you

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