Things in the Gas Tank

Perusing the mailbag archives about sugar, sand & golf Balls in the gas tank, I was reminded of a vengeful high school chum who told me that she wanted to inject some ping-pong balls with drano, then put them in the gas tank of someone she hated. She said this would cause the car to explode when the key was turned. According to her, it would not kill the driver, just ruin the car. (As far as I know, she never actually did this.) I’m rather dubious, but on the other hand I can’t think that the combination of gasoline and Drano would be a good one, especially when there are sparks around. What would actually happen if someone did this?

Answering this would be a lawsuit waiting to happen.

I hope the object of her affection is driving a pre-1989 beater, because a ping-pong ball will not fit through the “unleaded fuel only” filler neck on today’s cars.

Why did the Drano have to be injected into a Ping-Pong ball? If the Drano was the explosive element, why not pour it straight into the gas tank? Or are they saying the combination of gasoline+lye (Drano)+cellulose (PingPong ball) = some explosive? Seems very unlikely to me.

I assume that injecting the Drano into the ping-pong ball would give the assasin time to get away from the car before the Drano ate through the ball and started mixing with the gas… Sort of a time-release capsule. But, I don’t know what would happen once the Drano hit the gas. Anyone?


Full of 'satiable curtiosity

You know, there’s an easy way to find out…

I heard about this technique years ago. The way to do it was to drill a hole in the ping pong ball, then get the Drano in the hole and then seal it some putty. You were then supposed to drop the ping pong ball into the gas tank and run. Allegedly, the gasoline would eat through the plastic of the ping pong ball and an explosion would occur when the Drano and gasoline met.

I have heard this “recipe” attributed to distinct, but not dissimilar, publications. A friend told me that it was in the infamous Anarchist’s Cookbood, while another swore it was from an Army field manual.

The way I originally heard it, you were supposed to use an empty plastic film canister, and fill it with equal parts Drano and some other household cleaner (I can’t recall which). The explanation of its effects was the same, though-- BOOM!

Because this info doesn’t come from a verifiable source, I’m inclined to treat it as a UL. But I’m prepared to change my mind if one of the chemistry wonks weighs in against me. (And I’m sure as hell not going to try it with my brand-spanking-new Jetta…)

Sounds like the ping-pong ball is just a timing device.

So, the experiment:
First, get a gallon of gasoline. Take it outside to a vast open area. Pour some into a container. Drop a pingpong ball into it.
DOES THE PING PONG BALL DISSOLVE? If so, move on to phase 2. If not, stop, you’ve already disproved the damn thing.

If the ping pong ball does dissolve, then… gingerly sprinkle a pinch of Drano into the gasoline. Do this with caution, wouldn’t want you caught if it does in fact 'splode.
Judge the reaction (if any). Report back to us, if you’ve not been incinerated. If you have been incinerated, have your next of kin report back to us. We’ll send flowers… paper ones, probably, but what the heck, if you’re stupid enough to get caught in a drano/gasoline explosion, whaddya want?