Doofus Of The Day #1,057

Here’s a graphic illustration of why you shouldn’t use gasoline in combination with matches to clear an ant or termite nest out of your back yard.

Must have been fun explaining that to his wife!

A common practice in many parts of Africa was to soak the offending nest with a couple of gallons of gasoline, but then leave it alone for the gas to penetrate fully and kill off the ants or termites by poisoning them.  We didn’t toss lighted matches at the gas-soaked ground, for obvious reasons, as illustrated above.

I can still recall (with some glee) the friend who duly expended three gallons of gas in soaking three separate patches of ant-infested ground in his back yard (which was, fortunately, much bigger than that shown above, and the infestation was a lot further away from the building).  He duly left it to soak, and I helped him put away the gas cans.  As we came out of his outbuilding, however, another friend arrived, smoking a cigarette.  At my friend’s somewhat urgent request to “Put it out, quick!” he simply tossed the lighted butt off to one side.  The result was a considerably larger explosion than that seen in the video, some well-excavated patches in the yard, and some interesting language from my friend!



  1. Kerosene does the job much more safely. It burns instead of exploding. It's a lot harder to find these days, though.

  2. Might well have been acetylene – much more energetic. We used to dump a handful of calcium carbide ina hole, then some water. Carbide and water generate acetylene, which makes for a very energetic flame/blast.

  3. I used to work at a paper mill. One of the systems I operated was a Chlorine Dioxide Generator. It leaked, so there were Sodium Chlorate "stalactites" hanging from the bottom of the vessel.

    Tossing a chunk or two of one of those down a mole hole was effective. Some people brought in screw-top bottles and took home liquid Chlorine Dioxide for the same purpose — it was effective, too.

    Safety note: if you handle Sodium Chlorate, be sure to remove your gloves before lighting a cigarette — it's an oxidizer.

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