Safer, more environmentally friendly smoke screens

New mixture of hexachloroethane, stannous oxide, and aluminum, yields stannous chloride (SnCl2) for smoke generation

Military Technology

The hexachloroethane contains particles 12, the stannous oxide contains particles 13, and the aluminum contains particles 13. The loose mixture 5 is then pressed in varying increments into selected canisters 10. Upon combustion, the mixture 5 creates a smoke screen 15.

Conventional obscurant smoke formulations contain hexachloroethane (HX), zinc oxide, and aluminum. This pyrotechnic reaction produces a large volume of zinc chloride which is a toxic substance – several tests have been performed demonstrating the toxic effects this substance has had on both the environment and upon human inhalation.

There are several alternative smoke formulations, and while many have been proven to be less toxic than the HX formulation they generally do not produce comparable pyrotechnics that overcome the drawbacks and disadvantages of the above-indicated HX formulation, while at the same time achieving comparable screening abilities.

As an improved alternative, Army scientists have developed a pyrotechnic formulation to generate a smoke screen for obscuring effects and for ground-to-air signaling which provides excellent smoke effects but produces less toxic products than the conventional formulations.

Smoke Formulation


Component Parts by Weight Approximate Particle Size
Hexachloroethane 30-40% Less than 850 μm
Stannous Oxide 55-65% Less than 150 μm
Aluminum 5-10% Less than 45 μm

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