"You smell that? Do you smell that? Napalm, son. Nothing else in the world smells like that. I love the smell of napalm in the morning. You know, one time we had a hill bombed, for twelve hours. When it was all over I walked up. We didn't find one of 'em, not one stinkin' dink body. The smell, you know that gasoline smell, the whole hill. Smelled like - victory."

LTC William Kilgore, Apocalypse Now


Louis F. Fieser was best known for his research at Harvard University in organic chemistry which led to the synthesis of the hormone cortisone. He was slightly less known for his 1942 discovery: that aluminum naphthenate and aluminum palmitate made ideal thickeners for gasoline and other volatile hydrocarbons. As part of the war effort, Fieser helped the government design a thick, syrupy incendiary that was safer for friendly troops than gasoline. The two thickening compounds lent parts of their names to a space-age-sounding compound known as "napalm," which was first used in World War II, but later and more famously in Korea and Vietnam. "Napalm" is now used to mean any gasoline-based incendiary weapon with or without the original thickeners; newer additives include polystyrene, benzene, and other gelling agents. "Napalm B" (any napalm after WWII) was gasoline, polystyrene, benzene, and in some cases white phosphorous. From 1965 to 1969, Dow Chemical Corporation made Napalm for the U.S. military.

The original intent of napalm was an incendiary weapon which could be stored safely and deployed with minimal fuss for maximum damage. It was highly stable, tolerating temperatures from 150o F to -40o F, and thick enough that it was not easily dispersed by explosives. Deployed in a flamethrower or flame tank, napalm extended the range of formerly gasoline-based flame weapons from 30 yards to 150 yards... a football field and a half! Deployed from overhead in 165 gallon containers, a drum of napalm needed to be ignited with TNT or thermite, but once burning, very little could put out a napalm fire short of total combustion. In Vietnam, napalm was also used in land mines. A 55 gallon drum of napalm and a block of C4 would be connected to the trigger mechanism of a claymore mine, and upon activation, burning napalm would be sprayed for about a 50 meter radius. Because of its high burning temperature and tenacity, napalm was employed against pretty much every kind of target: vehicles, villages, cities, people, and trees...

In addition to serving as an defoliant, it's also an excruciatingly painful and often fatal exfoliant. A well-known Army marching song includes in its chorus the line "Napalm sticks to kids!" Images of napalm igniting in jungles, in villages, and on the people of Vietnam are still cultural icons of the 1970s. It is routinely cited along with Agent Orange as an example of American apathy to the cruelty of modern weapons. Napalm burns at over 5000o F, sticks to skin and clothing, and consumes oxygen quickly enough to asphyxiate victims near the flames but not engulfed in them. When dropped on secure bunkers, the ambient heat from napalm was enough to bake and dehydrate German WWII soldiers, giving rise to the German word "Bombenbrandschrumpfleichen," meaning "firebomb shrunken flesh". Napalm's hot-button reputation and America's changing doctrine made napalm obsolete after Vietnam.

On April 4, 2001, in a low-key ceremony at Fallbrook Naval Weapons Station, the U.S. military sent their last two existing canisters of napalm to be burned as additives at coal and natural gas plants in Texas and Louisiana.

The following is a recipe for napalm, or rather, a recipe for some sticky stuff that burns.

Take the usual precautions.

You will need:

Procedure:

  1. Place the packing peanuts in one of the large containers.
  2. Add the gasoline.
  3. Mix in as much gasoline as the peanuts will take.
  4. Discard the remaining gasoline. And come on people, even if we're going to be destructive, you can still discard the gasoline in an environmentally friendly manner.
  5. Mix in a bit of the salt or glass-cleaner.
  6. Mix well.

"Unite and ignite"

Here is another way to make a Napalm-like substance.

This is what you need to get:

  • A few containers of orange juice concentrate (The stuff that comes in cardboard tubes with metal discs sealing the ends. You can get it in the frozen foods section of your local supermarket). You can also substitute the concentrate with any brand of diet cola.
  • Enough gasoline so the concentrate and gas can be mixed in equal parts
  • A metal container to mix ingredients (Gasoline will eat through some plastics)
  • Something to mix the ingredients with
  • Enough common sense to not hurt yourself or others

This is what you need to do:

  1. Open up the tubes of concentrate and put them into your mixing container.
  2. Pour an equal amount of gasoline into the mixing container.
  3. Stir the ingredients well. If the mixture is too thin, add more concentrate, if it is too thick, add more gasoline.

Note: If orange juice concentrate is used, keep the mixture cool and sealed until ready to use, as the sugar will attract bugs and it could begin to spoil if left out too long.

Use this responsibly. I won't be held responsible if anyone hurts himself or herself.

Here's yet another recipe for napalm, this one from the US Army. I can't remember for the life of me which field manual it was in, but maybe some more ambitious person will dig through all of them and locate it. Either way, this is it:

Ingredients

  • Blood. The handbook specifies animal blood, but human blood works just fine, and is going to be more readily available in a combat situation. The more blood, the more napalm. Don't get any blood in your mouth, eyes, or open wounds, as you could contract HIV, Hepatitis, or other diseases.
  • Gasoline, or, if not available, diesel fuel, kerosine, or another flammable liquid. The more gasoline, the more napalm.
  • Cloth, such as a shirt or bandage.
  • Thickening agent. The only one I recall from the manual is salt, but I'm sure you could find something else if you put your mind to it.
  • A container to mix the ingredients in.

Instructions

  • First collect the blood. Slice through the arteries in the neck of the animal (or non-friendly combatant) and collect the blood as it drains out in your container.
  • You now need to wait for the blood to coagulate. It shouldn't dry into a solid clot, but it should begin to thicken and develop chunks.
  • Pour the semi-coagulated blood into your cloth, and then suspend the cloth over the container. A reddish liquid referred to as "blood serum" by the manual will seep through the cloth and into the container, leaving the larger clots in the cloth.
  • Mix an equal amount of gasoline into the "blood serum".
  • As of now, you should have a mixture of equal parts "blood serum" and gasoline. Begin to stir the salt into the mixture, and it will slowly but evenly thicken.

You now have an improvised, and biologically dangerous, container full of napalm. Light it on fire and pour it on something, put it in a molotov cocktail, or whatever. Don't hurt yourself or anyone else in doing so.

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