From: Discovery News
Published March 14, 2013 06:34 AM

Black or White, how IS that smoke generated?

The Vatican has released the pyrotechnical formula for the "mystery" recipe used to produce the holy puffs used to signify that a new Pope has been elected, or not elected.


"It's no secret," Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, said at a news conference today.

The process involves the use of two stoves. One, first employed in 1939 to elect Pope Pius XII, is used to burn the ballots. Another, more modern stove was introduced in 2005 to augment smoke and send a clear signal out to St. Peter’s square. Copper stovepipes protruding from the top of each stove are joined into a single pipe which runs up out of the window to the chimney.

"As the ballots are burned in the old stove, an electronic device is activated in the more modern one which puts into action a cartridge. This is filled with five doses, released every minute, to produce the colored smoke," Lombardi said.

Black smoke, indicating no pope, is created with mixture of potassium perchlorate, anthracene (a component of coal tar), and sulfur.

White smoke, which announces the election of a new pope, is made with a combination of potassium chlorate, milk, sugar and pine rosin.

Smoke from Vatican chimney via Sunshine Coast News.

To read more, link to Discovery News.

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