How does an onion bomb work? How does it explode when thrown?

308 viewed last edited 2 years ago
Vivekanand Vellanki
Onion bombs are quite popular in India and are burst during the festival of Deepavali. I have uploaded a picture of how the bomb looks. It bursts when it is thrown on a hard surface with some force. Small children can get it to burst by throwing it on the floor - which adds to its charm and fun quotient. From observing exploded onion bombs, I have noticed that there are small stones inside the bomb. The stones and other chemicals are wrapped tightly in a cloth. I am curious to understand how these bombs explode when they are thrown against the floor.
Vivekanand Vellanki

An onion bomb is made using the following ingredients: red phosphorus (also found on the cover of match boxes), potassium chlorate (also found on the tips of match sticks), and stones. When the bomb is thrown on the ground, the friction between the stones and the red phosphorous generates heat. This converts some of the red phosphorous to white phosphorous. White phosphorous burns on exposure to air. The heat also releases oxygen from potassium chlorate. This oxygen feeds the fire generated causing the explosion. See 1) How matches work. http://www.discovery.com/tv-shows/mythbusters/about-this-show/how-matches-work/ 2) How to make an onion bomb at home. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3fLyx9tWHA