Black & White Smoke


OK …by now we all know that if the Cardinals fail to elected a new Pope, “black smoke” rises from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel and when they come to a consensus and select the new Pope “white smoke” rise from the famous chimney. But exactly how does the Vatican create these two distinct colored smokes?

According to CBS News:

Inside the Sistine Chapel, there are two ovens.

In one oven, the Cardinals burn their hand-written ballots, so the choice for Pope remains a secret. In the other, a chemical concoction is burned, sending the correct color smoke out the chimney that the world watches.

“The result is requested by means of an electronic control panel and lasts for several minutes while the ballots are burning in the other stove,” said the Vatican Information Service.

 Black smoke is made from potassium perchlorate, anthracene, and sulphur. The white smoke is a mixture of potassium chlorate, lactose, and rosin. The rosin is a natural amber resin obtained from conifers (pine).

Prior to 2005, the black smoke was obtained by using smoke black or pitch and the white smoke by using wet straw. Often the results were difficult to ascertain, or the smoke generated from the burning ballots would overwhelm the purposefully generated smoke.

If you watched yesterday as the black smoke rose from the famous Chapel it was obvious the Vatican’s chemical mixture creates unmistakeable colors.

One Response to Black & White Smoke

  1. Christopher says:

    The smoke was white today. Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, has been elected and taken the name Francis I. He is the first Jesuit Pope and first from the New World.