Draino bottle bombs
Plastic soda bottles, left in unsuspecting residents’ yards, may be bottle bombs.
I want to make you aware of a recent incident that occurred, recently, in York Township, Michigan. This type of incident directly affects your safety as well as your children’s safety. At approximately 8am, an officer was dispatched to an address, on Bemis Rd, near the Saline City Limits, for an unexploded pop bottle bomb. When he arrived, he noticed a 20 ounce pop bottle, on the ground, in the caller’s front yard. After he inspected it closer, he determined that it was, in fact, a “Works” Bomb. He was able to clear the device from the house and, once he moved it, it detonated, within 30 seconds. After leaving that house, he checked other yards, in the area, during his patrols. He located a second one, just a few doors down from the first one. As he took care of the disposal/detonation, the homeowner came out and asked him what it was. When he showed her what it was, she immediately told him that she saw the bottle and that she had planned to pick it up, when she got her morning paper. Like the first one, once he moved it, it detonated, in short order. There was a high probability that this would have detonated, in her hand/face, while she carried it to the trash.
A “Works” Bomb is Draino and aluminum foil, mixed inside a bottle. The chemical reaction, between the Draino and the aluminum foil, makes a volatile build up of gases and, subsequently, detonates the bottle, with a great amount of force. Once the detonation occurs, the chemical substance, which is in the bottle, becomes a boiling liquid.
The amount of force generated, at the time of the explosion, is enough to severe fingers and also deliver 2nd and 3rd degree chemical burns, to the victim(s). The chemicals can possibly cause blindness and the toxic fumes can be harmful.
**SAFETY**SAFETY**SAFETY*** When you are out and about in your yards, please be mindful of these devices. If you’re picking up your morning paper, mowing your grass or if you let your children out to play, whatever your activities are, please use the following precautions.
1) If you find a soda bottle or any other bottles, examine it, carefully, before you touch it or get near it. If it shows signs of swelling or melting, in any way, DO NOT TOUCH IT! Call 911, then let them respond to take care of it.
2) If you find a soda bottle which has any liquid in it, DO NOT TOUCH IT! Call 911, then let them respond to check it/dispose of it.
Both of these bombs appeared to be slightly swollen, with a dark colored liquid, inside. This liquid could have easily been mistaken for leftover soda.
We understand that calling 911, for a soda bottle, may sound silly or like a misuse of your police protection but, trust us, it is not. You do not want one of these devices detonating, in your hand or your children’s hands or in your pet’s face. So, please check your yard, thoroughly, before letting your children out to play and be mindful, before you just deem that soda bottle as garbage, then pick it up.
In closing, please educate your children on the dangers and consequences of making these devices. It has become popular, with some youth, in the past few years, to do this, as a prank but there have been some changes to the law. Not only could it be deadly, to the maker or the victim but making one these devices is called “Possession of a Substance, with Explosive Capabilities.” If it causes no damage, it’s a felony, punishable by up to15 years in jail. If it causes damage, it’s a 20 year term. If it causes physical injury, its a 25 year term. If it causes serious injury, the penalty can be “up to life” and, if it causes death, it’s mandatory life, without the possibility of parole. These are statutory guidelines only. These penalties are what could be imposed but it does not necessarily mean that these penalties would be imposed.
Origins: “Bottle bombs” (also commonly known as “Draino bombs” or “works bombs”) are not a new phenomenon; they’ve been a favorite of youthful pranksters, for decades, as their construction requires only a few ordinary, commonly available components: plastic soda bottles, aluminum foil and Draino (or other brand of household drain or toilet cleaner). In general, one needs to simply push some aluminum foil balls into a plastic bottle, add some Draino, then screw the cap onto the bottle. The combination of the hydrogen chloride or sodium hydroxide, in the fluid and the aluminum foil, creates a strong chemical reaction, which releases hydrogen gas; when that gas builds up, to sufficient pressure, it ruptures the side of the plastic bottle, releasing the contents, in an explosive burst. Although the force of pressure-based bottle bombs may seem small, when compared to other types of explosives (such as gunpowder-based ones), any form of explosive has the potential to cause serious injury and, since bottle bombs have no conventional fuse, they can be dangerously unpredictable, exploding earlier or later than their wielders expect. (Aluminum foil is, typically, coated with a layer of wax, so it can take up to ten minutes for the fluid to strip away the wax, then react with the aluminum foil, enhancing the chances that a soon-to-explode bottle bomb may be picked up by an unwary passer-by.) Additionally, the caustic cleaning agents can cause severe burns, when they come in contact with skin (either through spillage, in the construction of the bombs or through being sprayed, widely, in the resulting explosion) and produce toxic fumes.
The above-quoted e-mail was a warning sent out by Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Deputy Keith Mansell, in April, 2010, after he discovered two Draino bombs, in the yards of residents of York Township, Michigan. At about the same time, the town of Methuen, Massachusetts, experienced a rash of similar plastic-bottle bomb placements, including two which blew apart mailboxes: A rash of homemade plastic-bottle bombs, used to blow up mailboxes, has prompted arson investigators and the state police fire marshal’s office to offer up to a $5,000 reward, for information leading to the conviction of anyone responsible for making and setting off these incendiary devices.