Hacked Gadgets Forum

October 12, 2008

Sawdust Cannon – Proven by Mythbusters

at 2:26 pm. Filed under Insane Equipment, What Were They Thinking


This experiment is one of those things that looks too simple but it has been proven by Mythbusters to be true. A large container is filled with sawdust, a road flare is stuck in the top and some compressed air is released in the bottom of the sawdust container. The results are amazing! I would have been one of the skeptics if I didn’t see the recreation by Mythbusters.

"My brother has been working on a way to make large explosions without the inherit danger of real explosives. Sawdust ignites well when mixed with the right ratio of air, so he devised this contraption. I hope to have an example of this at night- which is a truly spectacular effect!"


Sawdust Cannon. from Ben Stone on Vimeo.



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16 Responses to “Sawdust Cannon – Proven by Mythbusters”

  1. Weiss Says:

    Now there is this voice i my head saying: Do it. Do it, but do it bigger!! ๐Ÿ˜€

  2. ssb Says:

    i dont get it. what’s the point of the high flow valve?

  3. Alan Parekh Says:

    The high flow valve is so that the compressed air is released into the container of sawdust very quickly. Without it the plume of sawdust would not be very high.

  4. Jack Says:

    I like science and engineering and such, but I love these videos purely for the beauty of a big fireball!

  5. sliders_alpha Says:

    say (i’m not english) what is sawdust? little piece of wood that come out of my chainsaw when i cut a three? in that cas, the saw dust need to be very dry no?

  6. Weiss Says:

    Hey sliders_alpha

    Yes that’s right, but the sawdust can also come from a wood shop where they use dry wood.

  7. Amit Says:

    Very coool, but not too interesting. It is quite obvious. Most any substance which is finely divided, i.e. has a high surface are will ignite in air, flour, finely divided metals, saw dust…
    There’s not much to think about.
    another fun one is potassium manganate 7(rather powerful oxidising agent) and fine dust.throw that trough a fire and it is even more spectacular.

  8. Kendall Gray Says:

    Reminds me of a trick I used to pull in restaurants. Take an empty 5 gallon bucket, throw in a scoop of flour, put the lid on and swing it around by the handle for a while. Pull of lid, drop in lit match- whoosh! Impressive, brief fireball, scared wait staff, lotsa fun. Of course, this is also why sawmills and grain elevators go up from time to time…

  9. Mr Foo Says:

    As Amit says, not terribly interesting, certainly not a myth, but still fun to do. You don’t even need the high-tech approach, a large spoonful of flour, custard powder, or fine sawdust simply thrown through a naked flame will produce a fairly impressive fireball.

    sliders_alpha – nope, doesn’t need to be terribly dry. Powder explosions are massively exothermic (hence the big fireball), as soon as you get one going the relative humidity of the powder doesn’t matter overly much as long as it is well mixed with air.

    Powder explosions are a very real hazard, to the point where flour mills have *very* specialised electrial switchgear – the flour in the air is quite enough to totally remove the building from the map, and distribute its parts over a fairly wide radius. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washburn_%22A%22_Mill for example.

  10. Rich Cox Says:

    As Amit notes… nothing new, and in my opinion, nothing that would have required Mythbusters (are they some new standard or something). I think of silos etc., which have demonstrated this issue for time emporium.

  11. Alan Parekh Says:

    I am not so sure that it was obvious. I personally would not have thought that that small volume of compressed air (one old propane cylinder) would have produced enough rush to through the plume of sawdust that high in the air.

  12. Workbench Contest Says:

    […] you are looking over their site, be sure to look at the Sawdust Cannon – Proven by Mythbusters. Just remember that your Uncle Bob says, โ€œDonโ€™t try this at home, […]

  13. elmar Says:

    This would be so much easier (and even less dangerous) to do with black powder, instead of the high pressure air setup. Only one pressure sensor has to be faulty, only one pressure fitting damaged, for someone to be seriously hurt around a homebuilt pneumatic system.

  14. Andrew Says:

    This is the same principal that makes a “flour bomb” go bang.
    Also the very reason there are such stringent safety protocols in grain silos/elevators/terminals.
    Here in Australia all wiring in those big ass grain elevators, be it power, light, comms or data, must be in steel conduit, all conduit joins must be threaded, with at least 25mm of thread in each union join.

  15. Minelab Says:

    Cool episode, Adam and Jamie’s great guys. We in Ukraine look Mythbusters every day

  16. Mythbusters Cannon | Wugez Says:

    […] mythbusters cannon hackedgadgets.com […]

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