Toner bomb

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A car that has been hit with a Toner bomb to make it look "burned-out"

A toner bomb is a visual effect used in film to make a vehicle, road or building look burned. Requirements for the effect are inexpensive but realistic, and can be performed with readily-available office supplies. However, there are some implications if used improperly.

Performing the effect[edit]

The effect involves taking a container and filling it with toner dust (a toner printer cartridge gives similar effect) and launching it at a hard surface (the target) with considerable force. The aim is to shatter the container (or cartridge), spreading the dust over the area. The black appearance of the dust gives the target a "burned out" look.


Toner dust is notoriously difficult to remove; therefore, it is recommended that the effect is performed in that area that would not require cleaning afterwards; in filmmaking, a film set is often specially designated for the effect to be performed.

Toner dust will melt when warmed, so it is important that the dust is not heated (as it will become permanent). The best way to clear most surfaces of the dust is with cold water (and, if necessary, a household detergent).

Safety and health aspects[edit]

Plant Life: Toner is not highly hazardous to plant life. However, plants cannot be washed of the toner, so permanent staining will occur.

Aquatic Life: Toner is not safe for ingestion and is a contaminant sitting on top of water when mixed, so it is dangerous to aquatic life.

Humans and Animals: When performing the spread of the toner dust it is unsafe for humans or animals to be close to the target. Due to its fine quality, toner can be airborne for several minutes and is not safe for inhalation, so the area should not be entered soon after spreading.

After the spread has been performed, provided the dust is not inhaled or ingested it is moderately safe for human contact. Staining of the skin will wear away within a few days; however, prolonged contact with toner may cause irritation to sensitive skin.