World War II incendiary bomb sand pail located in Ridgewood, Queens residential basement cleanout

Incendiary Pail

These days, you see how-to articles all over the place, including on my very own blog. How to bake a cake, how to clean out your garage, how to organize your kitchen — there is how-to content of all kinds, of all lengths and on all topics. So I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised when I came across this how-to article from the 1940s called “How to Control Incendiary Bomb Fires.” Not quite the same thing as learning how to bake a cake, but tomato, tomato.


I came across it when I was doing research on this incendiary bomb sand pail, which is from the 1940s. I found it in a residential basement cleanout queens in Ridgewood.

These pails played a huge role in controlling incendiary bomb fires, which is outlined in the how-to article shown here from a 1940s issue of San Luis Obispo Tribune.

But let’s back up a second so I can provide some background. Incendiary bombs are bombs that are designed to start fires or destroy sensitive equipment. The first incendiary bomb was dropped during World War I in England in 1915. But these bombs were used regularly in World War II, so people educated themselves on how to protect themselves from these fire explosions. Below is an article from a 1940s issue of the magazine Popular Magazines, explaining how to put out one of these bombs.

Picture 7

If a bomb were to hit, the first step to take is to stay away from the bomb for at least two minutes. Then, use a Stirrup Pump to spray water directly onto the bomb. Now this is the part where the sand pail comes in: Sand was used to control the heat of the bomb, not put out the fire. So the best way to go about depriving the bomb of oxygen was to use a shovel to put it into one pail, which was half-filled with sand, and then pour sand from the other pail over top of it. In huge letters, the directions on the pail say, “REMOVE FROM BUILDING RIGHT QUICKLY.”


The crazy part about my find? The pail was still full of sand.

More Trash Treasures:

~ by DiMolaBros1956 on February 28, 2013.

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