Brushes with Disaster


Nate Van Dyke

Readers share their experiments gone awry.


By Mark Frauenfelder

When I was 12 years old, I got my hands on a copy of Abbie Hoffman’s Steal This Book, a guidebook for pranks, protests, and overthrowing the system. My favorite part of the book was the “People’s Chemistry” chapter, which had recipes for making stink bombs, smoke bombs, Molotov cocktails, Sterno bombs, aerosol bombs, pipe bombs, and more.

Here’s Hoffman’s recipe for smoke bombs:

Sometimes it becomes strategically correct to confuse the opposition and provide a smoke screen to aid an escape. A real home-made smoke bomb ...

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