Smoke dyes and smoke colors (colors) are specially selected powder dyes manufactured to a very high specification. Smoke dyes are available in Powder and liquid forms. These colors can be used in many applications such as distress signaling, military artillery, and air shows.
The Smoke dyes are homogeneous mixtures of azo and anthraquinone dyes. They are available in a variety of hues and colors. An example can be given of the Orange smoke compositions. They are basically a 50:50 mixtures of azo dyes and reactants. Reactions take place at a relatively low temperature, leaving the dye to melt and on expelled by hot gases used as colored smoke. One thing must be mentioned here that because of the sensitive use of the smoke dyes it should be low hazard. Smoke dyes that are used must pass through some strict guidelines.
Colored smoke can be used for smoke signals, often in a military context. It can be produced by smoke grenades, or by various other pyrotechnical devices. The mixture used for producing colored smoke is usually a cooler-burning formula based on potassium chlorate oxidizer, lactose or dextrin as a fuel, and one or more dyes, with about 40-50% content of the dye. About 2% sodium bicarbonate may be added as a coolant, to lower the burning temperature.
Smoke released from aircraft was originally based on a mixture of 10-15% dye, 60-65% trichloroethylene or tetrachloroethylene, and 25% diesel oil, injected into the exhaust gases of the aircraft engines. Most commonly, teams now use specifically prepared liquid dyes and only gas oil, light mineral oil or a food grade white oil without harmful chlorinated solvents.