Teretz Syndrome

A Pictorial Guide to Bomb Construction

Tuesday, February 8, 2005. 6:20PM

As a young man, I developed a bit of a fascination with fire. My mother tells the tale at every opportunity of how, as a four or five year old I took to the underside of a leather sofa (the underside being felt) with a box of matches. The sofa still bears the scar, but has long since been relegated to the front room (one step from upstairs, where furniture goes to die in my house).

It is unfortunate then, that I live in Australia, where the sale of fireworks to anyone but a licensed pyro-technician is illegal. Thusly, as a teenager, I had to resort instead to smaller, home made devices. Setting fire to entire boxes of matches, writing my name in lighter fluid and flicking matches at it and cramming empty coke bottles with sparklers were all pastimes of my youth.

Eventually this began to wear a little thin. What I really needed was a good size firecracker (or preferably, a good hunk of plastic explosive), but alas, in my country with my contacts it wasn't going to happen.

Fortunately last year I was provided with a mundane full time job. This gave me the both buckets of disposable income, and access to the Internet for far more time than is healthy. I took to reading a website that seems to be primarily concerned with headphones and flashlights (two things which I have almost no interest in), and eventually stumbled across this page. Inspiration struck, and I resolved to do the thing that any reasonable young man in my position would do.

I decided to build a bomb.

I was with some pleasure that I walked into Lombard's (which has, fittingly, since burned down), the local party supply store, and loitered round the counters. When the clerk looked at me I said that I'd like some sparklers. She pointed to the pile of eight or so boxes stacked in front of me. "No no", I said "I'd like a lot of sparklers." She soon brought out a shipping box, containing 100 boxes of eight 10" sparklers. "Maybe 20 boxes of those, too", I said, indicating the boxes of eight 18" sparklers. "And just one of those." Five of the big 28" ones. My total bill was $120AUD, including the 10% discount she gave me for buying in bulk; about the same price as eight movies or two decent shirts.

I was having a Halloween party, and so October 31st was to be the night of assembly and detonation. I called upon a few of the more sober parties present to join me in the dining room, and we began to build the bomb, and generally lark about.

(That, by the way, is the first photo of yours truly to appear on this website, paving the way for my upcoming exploration modeling soft core pornography)

The only other sparkler bomb related page that I can find on the Internet (the one I linked earlier) offered several insights into bomb construction that I chose to ignore. Firstly, Dan recommends that you use only metal wire to bind the bomb together. A noble thought, but at the time, it seemed to me that this was probably only for ease of clean up, and not being very civic minded (and looking for a minimum of effort), I chose to use humble duct tape instead. The bomb was constructed with five clusters of 10" sparklers arranged around a central core of the 18"s. The 28"s would go in the center of that, for use as a fuse.

With the device assembled, we changed into a roll of black and white film and headed for a local park.

To light the fuse I used a $2 jet lighter that one of the other parties had. My trusty Zippo once again proved it's worth by being out of fuel.

For comparison purposes only, the fuse (one sparkler).

The 28"s (five sparklers).

The was, to my memory, the briefest flash as the 18"s caught, but the 10"s hadn't. Very brief. Split second. Basically, as soon as those five 28"s hit, the whole thing went fireball on us (965 Sparklers). Bright as the sun. Only lasted ten or fifteen seconds before it collapsed into a glowing heap of metal shards. Someone gave it a kick and it shot a column of sparks high in the air. The thought now occurred that had I used wire instead of the duct tape, the thing would have held together much better, probably resulting in an upward flare much more than a fireball. Either way, everyone cheered and laughed and slapped each other five.


Right. Well. There it is. Sparkler Bombs aren't much good if you want to destroy anything (someone through out the thousand metal shards after a week or so, and the grass grew back in less than a month), but if you just want a bright light, some smoke, and to create something fun with your friends... well, they're a waste of money. You'd have more fun with $120 worth of beer. If I were to do this again I'd buy two boxes of 100 8"s for about the same price - less, in fact. Seeing as they went off at the same time, I don't see the point in them (other than to look cool). Anyway, I had fun. You could have fun. Feel free to email me with photos of your massive explosions and 3rd degree burns.

Without further ado; Ladies and Gentlemen, Miss Tara Reid.