Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Secret of the Black Smoke

From Father Z:
This comes from CNA.  My emphases and comments.

Vatican details how new smoke signals are produced

Vatican City, Mar 12, 2013 / 05:19 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Varying chemical compounds have replaced wet straw and pitch to produce the Vatican smoke signal that is used to communicate the result of conclave voting sessions.

Fr. Thomas Rosica, assistant to the Vatican press office director, explained that since 2005 the Vatican has used chemical compounds to better communicate the result of the conclave.

“For a Church that has made much progress in the area of modern communications, computer technology, Internet and Twitter, the conclave still relies on smoke signals to let the world know of its results,” he said in a March 11 statement to the press.

In the past, wet straw was used to create the white smoke, while pitch – a tar-like substance – was used to create black smoke.

Due to a number of “false alarms” in the past, Fr. Rosica explained, the Vatican has sought the help of “modern chemistry” to produce more easily distinguishable shades of smoke.  [Secret chemicals?  Read on!]

Now, the black smoke is produced by a mixture of potassium perchlorate, anthracene, and sulphur, while the white smoke is made by burning a mixture of potassium chlorate, lactose, and rosin – a natural amber resin.  [HA!  A likely story.  Read on!]...


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