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I learned how to do this in a book and it works great. I've actually tried it so I messed around with the measurements of tubing and added a few extras. This works for me really well. If you film it infront of a green screen outside, you get a great explosive effect. (note: don't wear clothes that were washed with fabric softner)
1. Take a cinderblock and stand it upright.
2. Attach a funnel to te side with the funnel end up.
3. put a 4' tube connecting to the bottom (small end) of the funnel. (so it is long enough so you can be far away and can't get burned.)
4. on the cinder block right next to the funnel, put a charcoal brickette and apply a little gasoline or flamable material.
5. put high fat coffee creamer powder in the funnel (coffee mate works best) then light the brickette and let burn for 2-4 minutes.
6. Finally, step back and blow into the tube so the coffee Creamer shoots out of the funnel and lights on fire coming out of the tube for a really incredible explosion.
Then you can add an old metal gas can or a 50 gallon gasoline drum around the cinder block or set it in shallow water, for a more realstic environment. (as if the can were actually exploding)
The last time I tried it was over the summer, but wrote down the directions. Once I get a chance I will film it and post it to prove how realistic it is. Remember don't wear clothes washed with fabric softner.
If someone has posted something like this in the past tell me if you've found any better rigs please.
Because I found this in a book, I don't remember why it is a safe explosion, but I think It has to do with what is burning (coffee creamer) and how it burns so quickly so it can't catch onto anything.
For a longer explosion, put in more coffee creamer.
Although it is not 100% safe, it is more controled. It is an alternative to the very real thing (an actual explosion)