We here at the Modern Rogue are big fans of blowing up stuff, whether we’re rigging cars to explode or just casually shooting propane tanks with shotguns. We’re particularly intrigued by the explosions that shouldn’t technically be able to happen at all, and that you could never see coming in a million years. You just casually stroll along the street, admiring your neighbor’s new pet crocodile, when all of a sudden: Boom! Spontaneous crocsplosion.
But this article isn't about detonating crocodiles. That would be depressing. The explosions we’re about to describe are much, much weirder.
A Freak Deodorant Accident Literally Lifts The Roof
An aerosol container can -- and absolutely will -- explode if the conditions are right. If you heat it up, its contents will eventually escape as violently as they can, because they’re sick of how you’ve been treating them and are coming to kick your ass.
You’d think that it’s not hard to avoid such explosions. Just don’t store your aerosol cans by the space heater, and learn to tell the difference between spray paint and firewood. Even then, you’re not completely safe. Just ask Sean Davey from Great Yarmouth, England, who managed to blow up his house with an odds-defying Rube Goldberg slapstick sequence that detonated a deodorant can.
This is how the War of 1812 was started.
In 2006, Davey’s parents were away for a vacation. He was doing some chores, not knowing that a massive fireball would soon lift the roof off the house. Earlier in the day, Davey’s sister had popped by with a bag of groceries and set them on the kitchen counter. Later, Davey entered the kitchen with a basket full of clothes. In a rush to meet some friends, he left the basket resting on top of the electric stove. As he set it down and turned to leave the house, he accidentally bumped the controls and turned on one of the plates. The plate set the basket of clothes on fire. The fire, in turn, heated the nearby grocery bag, which just so happened to contain a can of deodorant ... which then proceeded to open a can of very literal whoop-ass.
The ensuing explosion wrecked the house to the tune of $49,000 in repair bills. It blew out windows, cracked a wall, and even briefly lifted the roof off the place, cartoon style. The fire department had to rescue one of the family’s Labradors, while the other hauled ass to the woods and reappeared 8 hours later with a freshly gained “I’ve seen some stuff, man” look in his eyes. And, of course, Sean Davey got to make the phone call that all house-sitting teenagers and their vacationing parents dread: “Mom, I ... uh ... sort of exploded the house.”
The upside is that it smells wonderful.
Explosive Chewing Gum Actually Killed A Guy
Sometimes, reality enjoys watching action movies and taking notes for later use. For instance, one of Tom Cruise’s gadgets in the first Mission: Impossible movie was exploding chewing gum, which seems like one of those “iceberg boat” -level spy movie concepts that could never exist in real life.
And then, in 2009, a Ukrainian dude known only as "Vladimir" died when his chewing gum straight up exploded in his mouth.
Don’t worry, there’s no reason to call the bomb squad to dispose of your roommate’s stash of Wrigley. Vladimir was a chemistry student at the Kiev Polytechnic Institute, and he’d noticed that whatever lame-ass gum he was in the habit of chewing tasted way better if he dipped it in citric acid. To go with his peculiar gum habits, Vladimir was a keen experimenter with various chemicals and liked making homemade firecrackers.
The future of landmines is ... weird.
It’s anyone’s guess whether Vladimir’s chewing gum explosion was the result of accidentally dipping it in the wrong petri dish or if he was trying to create something new and delicious. Regardless, the resulting chemical reaction was a loud explosion that ... well, we won't go into details. If you want those, you can read the news report. Just know that it was bad enough that paramedics were helpless to save him.
Unfortunately for people who are keen to know the exact recipe for, uh, rogue-related purposes, whatever Vladimir dipped his fatal piece of gum in was only disclosed as an "unidentified substance". Which, honestly, is probably better for all humankind that we never know.
Samsung Makes Washing Machines That Explode
In 2016, Samsung issued a recall for around 3 million of their washing machines. You know what the article you’re reading is about, so we’re not going to beat around the bush about the reason: These washing machines could explode. In fact, they did explode, frequently enough to attract a class action lawsuit.
Turns out some of their top-loading machines couldn’t handle demanding loads such as bedding, waterproof clothing and bulky items. As the laundry was spinning, the lid of the machine could just give up and pop off, blasting whoever or whatever happened to be in the way, like the world’s freshest smelling Claymore mine.
One unhappy owner likened the noise to a bomb. A court filing stated that another customer's machine "exploded with such ferocity that it penetrated the interior wall of her garage." The CPSC advised everyone to power down and turn off the devices. Samsung themselves were quick to point out that their satisfied customers “have completed hundreds of millions of loads without incident since 2011” (stop it), but apart from the accidental innuendo, they did offer various repairs, rebates and warranty extensions to the afflicted customers.
All of this could probably be chalked up to regrettable, if ridiculous and outright dangerous product deficiency. However, this happened in late 2016, a time you might remember from a very different but equally explode-y Samsung product crisis: The exploding Galaxy Note 7 scandal.
It's like a Bond weapon for masochists.
Look, everybody, including corporations make mistakes, but… washing machines and phones? In the same year? Is there a special explodium department at the Samsung factories? Are ... are they the real life equivalent of Acme from Looney Tunes? In fact, at this rate, we’re kind of disappointed if they don’t announce that the new Samsung Anvil will drop in 2019.
Canned Tomatoes That Could Blow At Any Moment
The most delicious food you can make in under 10 minutes is extremely lazy spaghetti, and that's a fact. Boil pasta, heat some tomato sauce, toss in a little salt, garlic powder and pre-mixed Italian seasoning and bingo bango: you just insulted Italy and fed yourself. Good job. But wait, is it that easy? Or have you been flirting with disaster this whole time? Not to harsh your mellow, but man, you have been flirting with disaster. This whole time.
In Australia, back in 2016, chaos was lurking around the corner of every pasta sauce and shakshouka, thanks to a certain brand of canned tomato, which Aussies adorably called "tinned" tomatoes. It's a quaint throwback to old-timey days when people put things in cans made of actual tin that were hand-assembled by tinkers in the backs of colorful wagons and sold in exchange for spices and unwanted children. Anyway, turns out the cans were explosive. Oops!
How do you make a can of explosive tomatoes? Well, it's not easy. Not if you don't place actual explosives in the can, which of course wasn't the case here. No, this little mishap was all thanks to some improper canning procedures, which led to an increased build up in delicious canny pressure. Like a well-shook can of pop, these tomatoes were ready to blow their top on any poor sap ready to jam in the edge of a can opener, transforming their gazpacho into a "Gasp! Ouch-o." Heh heh. Wordplay.
Cow Farts Blew Up A Barn
Some of your fondest childhood memories probably involve your dad coming into the room, sidling up next to you, placing all his weight on his left foot while he lifted the right ever so slightly off the ground, angling his butt in your direction and ripping a fart so fierce you could actually see the effect of the heat rippling through the fabric of his pants. "Dad" is universal slang for "borderline sociopath".
Fact is, farts aren't just toxic in the hyperbolic sense -- they're toxic in the hyper-explosive sense. And sure, maybe the old man never really killed anyone with his, but that's probably because he wasn't trapped in a barn with a herd of similar butts all doing the same thing with no ventilation. Because that leads to explosions, and there's evidence to support it.
Deep in the heart of Germany, where cows are very efficient and serious about their work, a barn of 90 was growing thick and eye-watering with dangerous butt fumes. If there's one things cows are known for (aside from burgers and steaks and milk and mooing), it's farting. Cows fart a lot ... like up to 500 liters of methane a day, compared to the 1.5 liters of gas that escapes your dad. And this barn, with its lack of adequate ventilation, was so ill-prepared to handle the combined flatulence of 90 cows that, when some piece of electronics sparked to life, the roof of the building literally exploded.
The cows within the building were mostly OK. One was reported to have some minor injuries, likely related to butt scorching, but that was all. Lucky for them, the real damage was mostly psychological, because they realized that humans can weaponize cow colons if we're so inclined.
And we are totally inclined.
A 70 Year Long Butterfly Effect Ends In A Wood Stove Explosion
Austria is famous for its classical composers, its Swarovski crystals and its Schwarzeneggers. It seems like a quaint little almost-Germany, and when you picture a lakeside town with wood-burning stoves and apple strudel ... man, that's just relaxing as hell, ain't it? Well, stop relaxing because that wood-burning stove just exploded.
What a douchebag.
Some poor lady in the town of Gmunden had to deal with that after putting nothing but seemingly normal firewood in the stove. Thanks to the sturdy iron, no one was exploded along with it. But still, it's enough to make you sit at attention and brain-scream, "WHAT THE HELL?!"
Police did a little Scooby Doo work on the contents of the stove and found a World War II era grenade inside of the thing, which is not typically used for most wood burning ovens. The explanation was about as crazy as anything gets:
During the war, the grenade must have been launched at the tree where it hit but didn't go off. In the ensuing 70 years, the tree grew over the grenade, encasing it in the wood and making everything look as normal as you'd expect. The tree gets cut down and then cut into logs, missing the grenade completely, until this hapless Austrian lady tosses it in her stove.
"It's just a pine cone. It'll be fine."
And just like that, reality just wrote the script for The Butterfly Effect 4. And yes, there are already 3 parts to that movie. We were as shocked as you.
Grain Silos Can Explode Without Warning
A grain silo, on paper, is literally the most boring thing mankind ever created. It's a giant tube, filled with corn or millet or whatever, and it just sits there until you need it. Grain is nature's answer to a shrug that someone gave as they were falling asleep. It doesn't have the pizzazz of a steak, or even a banana. No one cares about grain. And maybe that's why it got so damn unpredictably angry with the world and started going off half cocked.
The thing about most grains is that when you put a few tons in a confined space, it creates a lot of dust. That dust, which is extremely fine and in high concentration, turns the air into the craziest and most volatile empty space you've ever seen. Just one spark will turn it into a combustible nightmare.
When those little dust particles oxidize, they can generate heat, which causes the air around it to expand. In a well vented area, this won't be an issue. But if the venting is poor, or if something triggers ignition, the reaction will ... well, here, just check it out, yourself:
There have been a few hundred grain explosions in the United States since 1990. Corn is by far the most common culprit, but wheat, rice, oats and barley are in there, too. So keep an eye on your cereal, because you never know when that stuff might go off.
Just kidding, your cereal's fine.
Like this article? Check out "Hilariously Stupid Weapons Someone Thought Would Actually Work In Battle" and "Awful Pranks That Backfired So Hard, They Made The News".