Sciencemadness Discussion Board

Best Oil/substance to produce heavy smoke & most slippery oil/soap?

RogueRose - 27-3-2018 at 10:06

Another hobby I have is being an amature writer (non-published to date). I have about 5 different books in the process, some may merge into one, but much of the info I learned here is contained in aspects of the books and I use sites like this for research to make the content more realistic or even FACTUAL (go figure!).

I need to find some substances, most likely an oil of some kind but I guess it could also be a soap or other compound, that will perform the necessary tasks.

I'm looking for an oil or other compound that will produce thick smoke when it is placed on a hot surface - think a frying pan on a stove burner on high. I would guess the temp of the burner would be 700-1200F. The oil/compound would be slowly added to the hot surface (dripped) in order to produce smoke.

Now IDK if it would be better to use a lower temp to create more smoke as the oil might not burn. i've heard that castor oil produces very thick dense smoke and has a pretty high flash point and can be used in this manner. IDK if there is anything that can be added to the oil to produce more smoke and that is something I would be interested in - possibly sulfanated castor oil or oil with some additive in it?

I'm also interested in substances that would produce extremely slippery conditions when applied to a surface of somethign like concrete, wood, stone/pavement, tile, etc. Ideally it wouldn't be a mix (of oil/water but if that is best, a stabilizer could be added). Using a thin layer of the compound instead of pouring a puddle would be ideal, much like how a cold surface gets when hot humid air comes in contact with it (covered in dew).

I'm sure some of you have come across some compounds in the past that have produced prodigious amounts of smoke. I'm not so interested in exotics like TiCl4 (military smoke gernades) but something that would be accessible to an "average" person who can go to the store, or maybe with a little "cooking".

Does anyone have any suggestions? If anyone is wondering about the applications, it is for a defensive measure in a remote farm community when it is over-run by invading "pillagers/murders/torturers". The story is largely drawn from personal accounts of various victims of war from WWII, China Revolution, South Rhodesia, Argentina and Kosovo where these events happened and similar tactics were used (by escaping civilians) but the translation of the materials wasn't clear. I'm looking to try to find a good explanation/solution for what they did.

Looking forward to any suggestions on what might be useful in these scenarios.

Ubya - 27-3-2018 at 10:18

well commercial smoke machines use glycerol, how thick are its fumes/vapours compared to oil i don't know though

Sulaiman - 27-3-2018 at 11:18

This stuff is slippery

As a youth I played with burning mixtures of damp sawdust + saltpeter ... loads of smoke :D

NEMO-Chemistry - 27-3-2018 at 11:43

Oil in general (veg oil at least), dosnt make much in the way of clouds of smoke, by the time its really smokey its near the point its going to burn.

Recently I used Glycerol effectively, but for some reason my eyes dont like it much.

For slippery, look for a lawyer who owes you a refund!

[Edited on 27-3-2018 by NEMO-Chemistry]

Vomaturge - 27-3-2018 at 16:04

Hair detanglers (like this one will certainly make a smooth floor more slippery. Not as slick as smooth ice, but perhaps enough to make someone fall while running. I have no idea what chemical component of these products makes them slippery, and I doubt that they would have much effect on a surface like grass or pavement.

Here's a SM discussion on smoke compositions:
As a defensive measure, one of the pyrotechnic mixes might be better than a material that has to be heated in a pan. They don't require an external heat source once ignited, and the amount of smoke you can make is limited only by how much composition you can make. Some "stump removers" contain Saltpeter/Potassium Nitrate, so it's plausible that a rural community would have access to this. Of course, it depends on the exact scenario. If the goal is just to fill a building with smoke, a smoke bomb that actually burns might not be the best solution.

@NEMO-Chemistry is it possible that the glycerol makes acrolein when heated? That would disagree with your eyes/lungs. Or maybe glycerin is irritating by itself.

RogueRose - 27-3-2018 at 18:27

Thanks for the replies!

I should have made it clear that the smoke making liquid needs to be a liquid or at least "squirtable" or dripable either in natural form or with an additive in it. There is no avoiding the fact that it has to be in a liquidish form for the application to work. It also will not have access to a flame, only a hot metal or ceramic surface which, as said could have a temp range from 700-1200 but I think it could be stretched to 500 and 1,400 if necessary, so whatever temp is best suited for smoke production can be selected/used in this process.

I'll have to try glycerol and also castor oil, maybe a mix (something to emulsify it may be needed and the emulsifier could even be something that makes it more smokey or something that makes it ignite at the temps).

It is also possible to add a fuel to the oil or glycerol like some diesel, alcohol, gasoline, kerosene, etc to make it burn when it hits the hot surface. I just have almost no experience with anything used to specifically produce smoke other than sugar/KNO3 and that is a very weak smoke bomb mix compared to some other options.

[Edited on 3-28-2018 by RogueRose]

phlogiston - 27-3-2018 at 23:37

Electronic cigarettes also use propylene glycol. Most e-liquids contain a mixture of propylene glycol and glycerol. Glycerol is said to produce visually denser clouds, but propylene glycol is less viscous which helps in the operation of e-cigarettes.

Another substance that will work is polyethylene glycol (PEG). It is available in different (ranges of) chain lengths, which is typically indicated by suffixing "PEG" with a number indicating the molecular mass (eg PEG400). PEG400 and similar are liquid. Higher-molecular weight PEG variets are waxy solids.