Banned Substances From My Childhood.

When I was a kid, fireworks were an infrequent diversion. Black Cats (firecrackers), Cherry Bombs (red, spherical, firecrackers with 5-10 times the amount of explosive of a firecracker) and M-80's (1/4 stick of dynamite or 2 1/2-3 grams of pyrotechnic flash power)and Bottle Rockets were brought in from Mexico and set off on New Years Eve and the 4th of July.

A more frequent diversion were Black Snakes or 'Pharaoh's Serpents. These took the form of a black pill-like tablet you would place on the ground and light with a match. What happened next was amazing. A dark, foaming substance would exude from the tablet while the tablet seemed to remain unchanged. When it was finished, the foam turned out to be ash.

In light of the number of injury's caused by mishandling these explosives, M-80s and cherry bombs were banned by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the Child Protection Act of 1966, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF)made them illegal in the 1970s. Mercury Thiocyanate is considered extremely dangerous because it produces poisonous mercury vapors.

Below are three examples of Mercury Thiocyanate in action. Please, don't try this at home!

Alien Life From A Rock

Pharaoh's Serpent

Ammonium Dichromate and pellets of Mercuric Thiocyanate