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Bottle Bombs / Drano Bombs

Netlore Archive


Drano Bomb
Via Facebook

Viral alerts warn recipients to beware of 'bottle bombs,' homemade explosive devices consisting of water, Drano, and aluminum foil in plastic bottles.

Description: Viral text / Rumor
Circulating since: May 2010
Status: TRUE (see details below)

2013 example:
As posted on Facebook, Feb. 21, 2013:


Kids are putting Drano, tin foil, and a little water in plastic drink bottles and capping it up - leaving it on lawns, in mail boxes, in gardens, on driveways etc. just waiting for you to pick it up intending to put it in the rubbish, but you'll never make it!!!

If the bottle is picked up, and the bottle is shaken even just a little - in about 30 seconds or less it builds up enough gas which then explodes with enough force to remove some your extremities. The liquid that comes out is boiling hot as well.

Don't pick up any plastic bottles that may be lying in your yards or in the gutter, etc.

Pay attention to this. A plastic bottle with a cap. A little Drano. A little water. A small piece of foil. Disturb it by moving it; and BOOM!!

No fingers left and other serious effects to your face, eyes, etc.

Please ensure that everyone that may not have email access are also informed of this.

2010 example:
Email text contributed by Elliott F., May 20, 2010:

Subject: Fw: Good information for everyone!

Good safety info that I never heard of; be careful and watch the video if you don't believe it.

Pay attention to this.

1. a plastic bottle with a cap.
2. a little Drano.
3. a little water.
4. a small piece of foil.
5. Disturb it by moving it; and BOOM!!
6. No fingers left and other serious effects to your face, eyes, etc..

People are finding these bombs in mailboxes and in their yards, just waiting for you to pick it up intending to put it in the trash. But, you'll never make it!!! It takes about 30 seconds to blow after you move the thing.

Analysis: Homemade "bottle bombs" have been around for at least two decades, though they've been known by a variety of different names, including "acid bombs," "Drano bombs," "works bombs," "pressure bombs," and "MacGyver bombs." Any number of YouTube videos demonstrate how to construct and detonate them. Because they're made with common household ingredients they're a favorite of teenage pranksters, but police warn that the devices are unpredictable and dangerous. Would-be bottle bomb makers need to be aware that if caught they can be charged with a felony. Penalties can be quite severe if injuries or property damage result.

The way a bottle bomb works is simple. When the aluminum foil comes into contact with the Drano solution a strong chemical reaction occurs, releasing a gas which causes pressure to build up inside the plastic bottle, which eventually explodes. The caustic, boiling liquid thrown off by such an explosion can cause second- or third-degree burns and/or blindness.

News reports of bottle bomb incidents (in which the activity is sometimes described as a "fad") have cropped up regularly since the early 1990s. An article published in the Los Angeles Times in March 1991 claimed at least eight adolescents had been injured in glass bottle bomb explosions after learning how to construct the devices from an episode of the TV show MacGyver.

The 2010 warnings were prompted by specific incidents reported in April 2010, including the discovery of bottle bombs left in the yards of two houses in York Township, Michigan and a "rash" of attempted mailbox bombings in Methuen, Massachusetts.

New alerts began circulating via social media in February 2013 after a rash of Drano bomb mailbox explosions in Kennewick, Washington and the arrest of three people accused of setting off a bottle bomb in Commerce, Georgia.

Sources and further reading:

Teens Charged with Exploding Drano Bomb in Commerce
Athens Banner-Herald, 15 February 2013

Kennewick Police Investigating Rash of 'Drano Bomb' Mailbox ExplosionsTri-City Herald, 23 Janurary 2013

'Bottle Bombs' Seen as Prank but Can Be Deadly
MyFoxHouston.com, 27 May 2010

Mailbox Bomb Attempts Spur $5K Reward Offer
Eagle-Tribune, 24 April 2010

Police Warn of Pop Bottle Bombs Left in Yards in York Township
AnnArbor.com, 18 April 2010

What's an Acid Bomb?
Slate.com, 28 November 2006

Homemade Chemical Bomb Events and Resulting Injuries
CDC report, 18 July 2003

Police Trying to Defuse Explosive Bottle Bomb Fad
Dayton Daily News, 17 April 1994

Drano Bomb Fad Causing Concern
Associated Press, 29 May 1992

Rash of Injuries Blamed on Kids Imitating 'MacGyver'
Los Angeles Times, 24 March 1991

Last updated 02/21/13

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