VIDEO: The cool way Hong Kong protesters are nixing Chinese tear gas

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Efforts by Communist China’s army to put down Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests are running into a stumbling block: basic science.

New video shows that after a tear gas canister is thrown into the crowd and the liquified tear gas inside begins to covert to gas, a protester snatches it, drops it into an insulated can, screws the lid shut and shakes it, eliminating the tear gas. As explained below, the tear gas is created through combustion so stopping this with water, bus or a lack of oxygen is the way to stop the tear gas canister from deploying completely.

Interestingly, tear gas is not actually a gas at all. In fact, the active chemicals found in tear gas – most commonly synthetic organic halogen compounds – are solid at room temperature. Common compounds found in tear gas include chlorobenzalmalononitrile (CS), chloroacetophenone (CN), both of which are known as mace, according to aftermath.com.

What’s inside a tear gas canister?

When ignited, charcoal inside the canister burns, while chemical compounds such as potassium nitrate and potassium chlorate produce oxygen that fuel the fire. Potassium nitrate particularly helps charcoal burn faster, according to Wired. Potassium chlorate breaks down into plumes of potassium chloride gas. (Popular Mechanics)

Silicon is sometimes added to the mixture to help the gas form droplets. Magnesium carbonate keeps the environment within the canister from becoming too acidic, which could destabilize the potassium chlorate. 

Another secret ingredient? Sugar. Sucrose burns at low temperatures and helps convert tear gas’s key ingredient to noxious fumes. That key ingredient is a chemical compound called 2-Chlorobenzalmalononitrile, or CS. When heated, it creates the pungent burning agent most associated with the gas. In essence, it does most of the damage. (ibid)

Other videos show protesters organized in teams which neutralize tear gas by slapping traffic cones over the cans, dousing them in water and throwing the tear gas back at Chinese forces.

That’s what you get when you try to oppress someone who paid attention in science class.