Bombing really was pretty dangerous. So we'd hold our breath and
do it under the hood while we heated it like a latte with the
steamer nozzle til it exploded.
Jo, clearly it was dangerous because obviously, you were doing it
wrong. from your description, you’d still have it under the steamer
when it popped? That means you had cyanide all over, and maybe in,
the steam nozzle. That means you’d be spraying cyanide, or cyanate,
next time you used the steamer. Anyone could tell that wouldn’t be
good. But done right, who thought of anything else that could go
wrong. Not us. No, you heated the water with jewelry in it first, to
boiling, with the steamer. Then in goes a teaspoon or so or
potassium cyanide granules (seemed stronger, and the granulated form
was easier to handle than those eggs). When it dissolved, swirl it
around a little, add a “glug” of the 40 percent peroxide, and point
the properly tilted container to the back wall of the sink which
properly contained all the splash. Yeah, yeah, I know we weren’t
supposed to be letting such stuff go down the drain. but the whole
building was jewelers. Who’d know it was us? It was Detroit, and thus
the already dead Detroit river. Perfectly safe. Well, maybe a little
bit of a headache.
Sometimes quite a bit of one. But we were young.
And maybe really, really, really stupid.
And the finish was unique. Nothing else can touch it on stuff like
hollow rope chains or similar things where even now, magnetic
tumblers can’t quite match that look…
Amazing to realize I actually survived that stuff to tell the tale.
And besides, it had to be Ok, or Murrey Bovin’s book on jewelry
making wouldn’t have pretty much given the instructions, though his
method used a pyrex coffee pot, with a lid, and clear instructions
not to drop the pot when it exploded.
(For those unused to bombing, it’s not really an explosion. Ranges
from a sudden fast rise in bubbles that almost overflow the container
and then subside, to a pretty clear “burst”. Almost a soft explosion,
and it propels at least some of the foamy liquid out of the container
unless covered, and big enough to contain the new volume. This is not
at the level of reactivity of, say, mentos candy dropped into a diet
pepsi bottle, though there can be a certain resemblance at a much
However you do or did this, the only really safe way to do bombing
is within an enclosed fume hood, usually a glove box affair, with
proper built in plumbing to dispose of the waste, destroy the
remaining cyanide, and prevent fumes from escaping. Not cheap
equipment. Even just outside doesn’t do it, as you still have waste
disposal issues, and toxic fume issues, to address, even if they are
usually at very low levels.
memories. Proof that I didn’t kill quite all the brain cells with