I received this information in an email and although I had never heard of this before, after I did some investigating, I found that this has been around for a number of years.

According to the email that I received, kids have started putting Drano, tin foil, and a little water in plastic drink bottles and capping it up – leaving it on lawns, in mail boxes, in gardens, on driveways etc. Just waiting for you to pick it up intending to put it in the garbage, but you’ll never make it!   If the bottle is picked up, and the bottle is shaken even just a little – in about 30 seconds or less, it builds up enough gas within the bottle, which then explodes with enough force to remove some of your extremities. The liquid that comes out is boiling hot as well.  Don’t pick up any plastic bottles that may be lying in your yards or in the gutter.  Disturb it by moving it; and it explodes at instant high temperature.

Don’t pick up any plastic bottles that may be lying in your yards or in the gutter, etc.  Pay attention to this.

According to this warning message, which has been circulating in various locations since around May 2010, kids are using drain cleaning chemical, Drano, along with tin foil and water to construct bottle bombs. The message claims that the bottle bombs are being left in mailboxes, lawns, driveways and other conspicuous places where they may injure unsuspecting people who pick them up. The message warns that if the primed bottle bombs are picked up and shaken even a little, they may explode and potentially cause serious injury to people holding them.  The potential threat described in the warning is real. Bottle bombs can be constructed from easily procured everyday items and chemicals, including Drano, aluminum foil and plastic drink bottles. Moreover, teenage pranksters in many parts of the world have been making them and detonating them for decades. The devices are also known as MacGyver bombs, acid bombs, works bombs, and soda bombs.

Drano bombs, which actually can be made with any drain or toilet cleaner that contains hydrochloric acid, and it can cause chemical burns to the skin or even blindness.  When the foil and drain cleaning chemical combine, a powerful chemical reaction occurs. This chemical reaction releases a gas which can build up pressure in the plastic bottle until it explodes, spewing out an extremely hot and caustic liquid. The devices have caused a number of injuries, including series chemical burns, eye irritation or blindness, limb and facial injuries and hearing damage.   Many of these injuries have been suffered by the young bomb makers themselves. However, a number of innocent people have also been hurt by these devices, often after they picked up what they thought were just discarded drink bottles.

News reports going back decades describes many cases of, so called, bottle bombs.  Unfortunately, the Internet has given youngsters virtually instant access to detailed reports that describe exactly how to make these bottle bombs using not only Drano but other commonly available ingredients as well. There are many YouTube videos that show how to make the bombs and how they subsequently explode.  Some versions of the warning that are currently circulating imply that such bottle bomb antics are something new. However, as noted above, bottle bomb making has a long and troubled history.  But, the advice in the message to be cautious of plastic bottles that you may see lying around is certainly worth heeding.  If you believe that you have discovered one of these devices, warn bystanders to not touch it or attempt to pick it up, call your local police, and hope that they have the means of disposing of it without harming anyone.