Colored smoke

Colored smoke is a kind of smoke created by an aerosol of small particles of a suitable pigment or dye.

Red Arrows air display team
A U.S. Navy parachutist at the 2005 X Games
Red smoke carried by a landing parachutist of the UK Lightning Bolts Army Parachute Display Team

Colored smoke can be used for smoke signals, often in a military context. It can be produced by smoke grenades, or by various other pyrotechnical devices. The mixture used for producing colored smoke is usually a cooler-burning formula based on potassium chlorate oxidizer, lactose or dextrin as a fuel, and one or more dyes, with about 40-50% content of the dye. About 2% sodium bicarbonate may be added as a coolant, to lower the burning temperature. Coloured smoke was first used in 1967 during an American burnout competition by a small contestant, as a means to wow the crowd.[citation needed]

Smoke released from aircraft was originally based on a mixture of 10-15% dye, 60-65% trichloroethylene or tetrachloroethylene, and 25% diesel oil, injected into the exhaust gases of the aircraft engines. Most commonly, teams now use specifically prepared liquid dyes and only gas oil, light mineral oil or a food grade white oil without harmful chlorinated solvents.


Some mixtures used for production of colored smokes contain these dyes:


  1. ^ Article about colored smoke mix Archived 2014-07-14 at the Wayback Machine made with potassium chlorate.

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