Episode 1: Ice Bullet, Exploding Toilet, Who Gets Wetter?

Air Date: September 23, 2003

An assassin can fire an ice bullet to kill someone without leaving a trace.

busted

The bullet was simply too brittle to be used.

(This myth was revisited in episode 14 and it was busted again.)

An assassin can use a meat bullet to kill someone without leaving a trace.

busted

The meat bullet fragmented on contact with the skin, causing only superficial damage.

An assassin can use a gelatin bullet to kill someone without leaving a trace.

busted

The bullet did not cause fatal injury.

An assassin can use a poison capsule fired from an umbrella to kill someone without leaving a trace.

partly confirmed*

It was found to have been the cause of death for a notable Bulgarian dignitary, Georgi Markov. The catch is that the umbrella must be fired from point-blank range for it to work.

*It was confirmed that the event is possible, but not that it’s untraceable.

Pouring gasoline down a toilet and lighting it will cause the toilet to explode.

busted

The gasoline simply burned without exploding. Not even a tin of gunpowder in the toilet bowl was able to eject Buster from the seat.

You stay drier running in the rain than walking.

confirmed*

When originally tested, the faster you run the wetter you get.

*The original result was "busted," but when revisited in episode 38 it was changed to "confirmed."

83 Comments

  1. James says:

    When trying to use frozen bullets, it’s probably better not to use gunpowder for the propellant. Maybe something like high pressure Co2 would work better since it would actually lower in temperature when it expands. Either that or you’ll need to use some sort of holder for the bullet while it’s being accelerated, to avoid heating.

    • Yuyqe says:

      I’m thinking they could use something that was not pure ice. For example, ice with salt has a lower freezing point than normal ice and such would make the bullet more resistant to heat.

      • allan says:

        i agree

        • allan says:

          creates dryice if you put ice and salt together which is alot stronger.

          • Paul says:

            It would work better if you use a liquid denser that water. As even salt water when frozen and shot with high pressure Co2 wold shatter on impact with skin rather than piercing it.

            • Rajneesh says:

              that, allow me tell you just what exactly did work. Your aurnitohg is pretty powerful and that is possibly the reason why I am making an effort to opine. I do not make it a regular habit of doing that. Secondly, even though I can notice the leaps in logic you come up with, I am not necessarily sure of how you appear to unite your points which in turn help to make your final result. For right now I shall yield to your position however hope in the near future you connect your dots better.

          • Mike says:

            No it doesn’t. “Dry ice” is solid CO2, not H20.

          • Mahdi says:

            Pure theory here ( sorry for spellings)

            The bullet shatters due to the force wave of the explosion, and the materials inability to deal with this wave. So if you could increase this ability by adding a gel substance which would increase structural integrity through the initial shock wave then the resultant outcome maybe shotgun like. You could also try incase it in such a substance. The getetin experiment above shows that it can be fired ( carrier) the ice would be the damage agent. Also look at encasment in gel

            Please let me know what you think

            • Barebones says:

              Evidently no one had any experience reloading ammunition. In the 1st test they simply pulled the existing bullet and replaced it with an ice bullet. When fired the bullet was impacted with not only a great deal of heat but also with somewhere between 35,000 and 60,000 PSI which would have vaporized the ice bullet. I don’t remember what caliber rifle they were using but even very old firearms operate on pressures over 30,000 PSI. They would need to dump the powder out and replace it with a few grains, maybe 3 to 10 grains of fast burning handgun powder such as H110, Bullseye or Unique. This would leave a lot of free space in the case which would be filled up with cornmeal to help prevent detonation as well as cushion the ice bullet. In this manner the bullet would leave the barrel in one piece and have sufficient inertia to penetrate soft tissue but not necessarily bone. The bullet won’t engage the rifling well and would be quite inaccurate but at close range could kill.

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    • Fox says:

      I have actually used an ice bullet in an experiment. I killed a rabbit with it, from 10 feet away, a head shot, from a co2 bb gun. The bullet, was not found during our autopsy, but we found the area cold and a little water. The rabbit was killed instantly.

    • BlueNexus says:

      Some of the people making suggestions to defeat the *failure* of an ice bullet working successfully apparently missed the point.. It says “without leaving a trace” While some of the replies post sound plausible, the others would be easily detected by CSI and related.

  2. jamoecw says:

    i’d like to see an ice bolt for a crossbow, or spear for a speargun.
    i think james is right, gunpowder heats up, gas cools.

  3. Shawn Beeler says:

    I think that a barrier such as a shotgun wad in a down-sized version would greatly reduce heat, allow for proper combustion, and reduce shock from the initial propulsion. I’d try the ice bullet as a shotgun slug too. The problem is that the wad may retain the rifling. DO IT AGAIN, PLEASE! And try the crossbow idea. That sounds like it would really be cool.

  4. ChocoboXii00/Fr says:

    The 7 september of 1978, at london, Georgi Markov wait for his bus on the waterloo bridge, suddendly, he feel a violent pain at his leg, a man has injected him a dose of “ricine” (i don’t know how to call it in english ^^) with his umbrella but not like a rifle, his murderer used the umbrella like syring !
    Other exemple,
    Lev Rebet was killed with a pen , but it was in fact a little cyanide pistol, the death by inhalation of cyanide is like a normal cardiac stopping…

  5. paul smith says:

    Episode 1 Exploding toilet. If you pour iodine down a toilet bowl and throw a match into it, it will explode. It happened on (What Happened Next?) on channel nine. This series was on in the late nineties to early 2002 I think.

    Paul Smith

    • khairul says:

      what about using sulfur for the exploding toilet myth, coz sulfur creates hydrogen when it come into contact with water. then, when u lit it up, it’ll explode.

  6. Dick Landgraff says:

    The “ice bullet” theory has been around for ages. Was even a weapon in an old Charlie Chan movie. More recently it was a weapon on CSI but was really frozen hamburger. THAT hamburger bullet could be busted because by the time the suspect got to his intended victim, it would have thawed out.

  7. evie says:

    i think you get more wetter walking than running because when your walking the water just pours and goes straight on you and when your running it can bounce off and you only get a little wet.

  8. aaa says:

    Does a cherry bomb put in a toilet explode and cause trouble of any kind? Any water backup or pipe damage? Anything?

  9. freamalapeech says:

    Who said the ice bullet had to be a bullet fired using gun powder, maybe an ice projectile is more fitting and more likely to work., a high powered FAC rated air rifle( 25 foot pounds+) would fire an ice projectile of 0.22 calibre shaped correctly at over 1000 fps which would penetrate the human body and would have the ability to kill, we need mythbusters to revisit using compressed air to recreate it, the heat generated is minimal and would’nt be able to melt the projectile before impact. please do it again

  10. John Duckitt says:

    I just viewed a rerun of this episode, and having recently seen a discovery episode on “Pycrete” which is building material made by freezing wood chips in water, if using soemthing similar would not work in the place of pure water as an ice bullet. The insulating properties of the wood allows the ice to remain frozen long after normal ice has melted.

    Thanks for an interesting show.

    Regards

    John

  11. Grant says:

    I would definately like to see the “ice bullet” tests conducted again using an air rifle or some kind or gas-propellant. It likely would not be untracable, but if the projectile could be fired intact, may be lethal.

    • heather says:

      Just saw an episode of Bones they shot a frozen blood bullet…and used a pressurized delivery system…I saw the ice bullet episode of Mythbusters just wondering if this should be revisitrd using a blood bullet???

  12. Muzzy says:

    I would think gas powered bullets would have the same impact as a Paint ball. I’ve been hit with a marble in a paint ball gun and it left a nasty welt that bled a little, and an ice bullet may puncture but I think ultimatly it would shatter on impact.

  13. George says:

    A simple thought experiment says to run in the rain to stay driest. Just look at the extremes. If you go slow, say it takes you an hour to move 50 feet, obviously you’re going to be exposed to an hour’s worth of rain. Now move at light speed — you’re out of the rain much more quickly. Have you ever seen a wet photon?

  14. jacob says:

    hello Adam and Jamie, how are you today

  15. Brian says:

    I just caught the end of the ice bullet episode. Did they try shooting a bullet through a smoothbore shotgun or Muzzleloader? I think the rifling in the guns is causing the bullets to designate. The meat or ice bullets may still be destroyed from the heat or extreme pressure but the rifling is not helping. The groves in the barrel actually cut into the bullet and I don’t think the ice likes that very much. I would like to see this revisited using air guns as mentioned in another post as well as smooth bores or possibly a sabot round. Also they should try lighter charges due to the fact that the ice weighs less than a copper plated lead projectile of the same size. This will limit the range and lethality but the bullets might remain intact. Also, can you try a bone or salt bullet that might go undetected.
    Thanks

  16. redo says:

    REDO THE ICE BULLET MYTH!!!

  17. Bob says:

    I love how people get so excited about posting their ideas that they forget how to spell!!
    Here’s one for the boys.
    The majority of Mythbuster watchers failed basic english.

    • geezle says:

      “The majority of Mythbuster watchers failed basic english [sic].”

      And how did you spell English? The word is capitalized.

  18. Swapnaja says:

    hi,
    I was working for a cng company (compressed natural gas).
    The myth is surely busted because i never shut down my mobile (nobody else working there) when we used to approach the compressr zone itself. and there were abt 20 compressors.
    when we used to visit the outlets we were told to keep our mobiles off but practically we get our feedback for the call itself so we could not keep it off.

  19. Kent says:

    I can testify to the power of an ice bullet, as I have been firing them from my potato cannon for some time now. Granted, my “bullets” are 1.5″ x 3″, but they do SERIOUS damage to many kinds of targets. I have punched a clean hole through 3/4 plywood and mangled a steel wagon. A small caliber bullet might not work, but an alternative gun could definately kill and leave only water and traces of propellant (ether)behind.

  20. Gregory Clack says:

    i tested a different version of the ice bullet, and successfully managed to take out my target with great results, a successful kill i might say. but i used a shotgun

  21. IloveYou says:

    The gasoline simply burned without exploding. Not even a tin of gunpowder in the toilet bowl was able to eject Buster from the seat.

    Logic is water mixes with gun powder and releases nitrous oxide which makes gunpowder= 0 and hence only gasoline remains which is quite innefecient if you use in small qauntities

  22. Ryan says:

    Redo ice bullet, use a sabot round and try a smoothbore gun… no trace propellants would be left on the ice.

  23. Andy says:

    i think co2 would be better too but ice might not be strong enough

  24. kayla says:

    the ice bullet does work i tried it use co2 not gun powder

  25. ovidiu says:

    what if you try to form the ice bullet using a high pressure chamber – or press the ice to “harden”?

  26. Matt says:

    Yeah i think compressed air would be better than gunpowder. But why not freeze the water and gelatin together. just a thought.

  27. Shooter says:

    A custom made bullet with plastic around it.

    Untraceable and can’t be connected to any gun.

  28. Trent says:

    You know the myth of the Meat Bullet came, I think, originally from a CSI episode.

    And in that case, it was a snub nosed .38 revolver that was used. In this case, the expanding hot gases have no time to “melt” the meat bullet.

    What Adma & Jamie did was use a rifle for this test. Now you have a 3 foot long barrel with hot gases enveloping the meat bullet. Of course, it will melt and only cause superficial damage.

    Try again with a pistol, you just might get the results as in the shows.

  29. Chad McMillin says:

    hey is it possible for your heart to explode while having sex?

    • brad haines says:

      not unless youre 60 or older with heart problems

  30. SRGT Jason Coreyes says:

    The United States Military is currently creating the Ice bullet which in turn with the K72 Sniper rifle, will be released in 2011-2013

  31. SRGT Jason Coreyes says:

    but heres wjhat I dont know, can a concrete or metal marble bullet be created to work suffitiently at close and long range execution?

  32. Riste Kalinov says:

    Why don’t you use pykrit instead of ice? pykrit is 85% ice and 15% cellylose or woodchips. It is proven to be harder than ice. Russians actualy had plans to make entire ship from pykrit.

  33. weezy says:

    hey about the gelitin and ice bullett add poison to the water and when it freezes you have ice but most of all try anti freeze to keep cool but for the tip put rubber silicon to keep the bullet stable and will might add be able to rip off @ the skin and the bullet travels on but one more thing aim for the liver because your body fluids run out any whays i mean your urine and other waste so it goes away…….just sugestions

  34. Glenn Sloggett says:

    There is a type of bullet called a accelerator,which uses a thing called a Sabot.What it does is acts like a wad in a shot gun round.It covers the bullet until it’s fired,then it falls away leaving the bullet free.The Sabot might be enough to protect your ice or meat bullet long enough to get to the target without breaking.

  35. John Doe says:

    Some myths are better left busted. Think what would happen if you showed how to make an ice bullet work.

    • brad haines says:

      AMEN

  36. Falcon says:

    Ice bullet? Don’t think it will work in a gun powered fire arm? No way in **ll. Agree in other weapon yes, not a normal fire arm.
    Falcon

  37. Dan says:

    I agree. I’m disappointed that the ice bullet myth, upon being busted, was given up on so easily. Normally after identifying the flaw, (the ice turns to steam), in the myth. The guys then try to come up with a solution to make it really work. Even if it would be impractical for a real assassin. But in this cause they just said “It will not work, now stop bothering us about it”.

    I found it ironic that the same episode (Ice bullet 2) had a segment where frozen chickens were fired from an air cannon. What would happen if the frozen chickens were fired from a black powder muzzleloader? ; – )

  38. gun"o"a-gun says:

    the idea is to get close and use a co2 gun in the juggler vain or lungs to kill the vic, this isnt a bust!!! since a opp would never use gun powder, it would give off a flash and let the enemy know your location , this is a close kill , a opp would make himself a friend then kill in the night on the way home from the bar or a car ride point blank in the neck or lungs so that even the driver didnt know the vic was dead till after the opp had gone…

  39. gun"o"a-gun says:

    also what abought frozen dung , in nam thay used bamboo and dung as a means to kill, couldnt you use dung to kill , lol a chicken get nasty

  40. ricardo says:

    an ice bullet will work when fired from an air gun

  41. Phil says:

    I agree,.. after having watched the episode several times, I find that they made the same “assumption” in every version they tried. That assumption, simply stated, is that they assume in each experiment that the fuel is “gunpowder”. What if the fuel were something different? Several people have made statements about CO2,.. and while that may be a viable option,.. I’d like to offer a diiferent fuel possibility.

    What about LOX?? (Liquid Oxygen)
    Possibly added to Liquid Hydrogen???

    LOX is highly combustable, as evidenced by the fact that they use it in the fuel mixture to help launch shuttles into space. But it is also super cold, and this may help keep the bullet itself in tact. Admittedly, this would make the projectile more of a “rocket” then a “bullet”,.. but the end result should still be the same.

    So then,.. here are the questions I leave you with,..

    Is it possible to load a bullet casing with LOX, and then ignite it using the spark provided when the hammer of the gun strikes it?

    And would this provide the necessary thrust while still keeping the “ice-tip” cold enough and in tact enough to travel to it’s desired target?

  42. robbie says:

    Ice bullet and no trace!!

    Even if the ice bullet was capable of causing fatal injury it would still leave a trace.

    I’m sure the pathologist would be a little suspicious of a puddle of water inside a gunshot wound and no bullet!

  43. robbie says:

    about LOX

    forget that idea

    mechanical components need oil/lubricant.

    LOX and oil do not mix…kaboom!!!!

  44. Phil says:

    True,.. but the LOX would be contained within the shell casing and have no contact with any oil/lubricant until after the bullet has been fired, in which case the LOX has already been ignited anyways

  45. Dave says:

    The Ice bullet: Use a sabot round in a smoothbore gun, with a light charge. Should be A-OK. The sabot will insulate the bullet from heat and mechanical shock, the smoothbore will give it a gentle ride out. I bet it would work.

  46. Bryan says:

    is it true if you paper patch a bullet it will be untraceable? if not how can you make it untraceable?

  47. Phil Doak says:

    I am in agreement with using CO2 (or the like) as the propellant, however, you might twist the project to “what would it take to assassinate with an ice bullet”! It would involve building a weapon that would kill with ice, like from Dan Brown’s novel! You also might try frozen blood somehow taken from the victim, or some other type of frozen liquid that freezes at a lower temperature so the melting point would be naturally hotter than that of ice?

  48. Gismo says:

    Can a person be propelled off a toilet seat by dropping a lit cigarette into a toilet bowl when filled with various combustible materials?

    The Myth about the man who got katapulted of his toilet exploding was prob a large male, no toiletseat so sat on the ceramic ( sealing the toilet ) and the fuel was calciumcarbide that fell out of his backpocket as he had to urgo to make it in time, than lighted a sig than after opend legg;s to make room drop sig and kaboom :D

  49. Dennis Deters says:

    When you base the test on a distance walked or ran, your results are correct. BUT when you base the test on time in the rain walking or running, you will get more wet running because the rain will impact your front side of your clothes in addition to the exact same amount impacting the top surfaces of your clothes.

  50. Hurler17 says:

    If Grant were to make a smaller version of his nitro cannon, which he used to punch a hole in the shop’s wall by the way, and create a reservoir of a super cool, compressed, flammable gas, attach it to the nitro cannon, and use it as fuel. In this case, it would no longer be a nitro cannon. As for the bullet, I agree it should be made in a “pressure freezer”, which would have the effect of compressing the water into a much smaller space and then freezing it, which makes it much more dense and hard. I do like the idea of obtaining a blood sample of the victim and freezing that.

  51. Richard says:

    What’s the difference about the ice bullet? Even if did stay intact, it’d still make a hole in a body. It’s not like the cause of death couldn’t be determined?

  52. kiilleer10 says:

    i really think that it was kwl, so leave it as it is.
    also, many of theis things are impraticable but how about an ice knife? huh?
    ice can be pretty sharp, even naturally formed stuff like icesickles and if you used the knife, all traces of it could be “melted”.

  53. Danielle says:

    I’d like a revisit to the toilet myth, trying bug spray and other accelerants. Also, outhouses as opposed to water toilets. Read this: http://www.snopes.com/embarrass/accident/toilet.asp

  54. DAC8 says:

    Shotgun slugs could be replaced with ice frozen in liquid nitrogen. That’s almost 400 calories of heat per gram that the ice could absorb before melting, a solid core should travel quite a distance.

  55. DAC8 says:

    If you watch people run in the rain they don’t run as vertical as they do without rain (as they showed on the show). They do this instinctively, what I call the angle of repose. By doing this they effectively expose less surface area front and back and get most of the rain on their sholders, but less overall. What your instinct tells you to do might be to lessen the chance of a lightning strike but I think the slanted running is for less wet. It didn’t look like a natural in the rain running pose on the show, if you film unsuspecting people they’re more leaned over. Plus the total time in the rain has to account for something.

  56. eydie says:

    RE: disappearing bullet.

    Blood bullet frozen via liquid nitrogen will work. Blood mixes with target blood. Use o pos blood.

  57. Killian says:

    You guys should redo the Ice bullet test but do it like they did in Bones where the bullet is made of blood. And shoot it from a compressed barrel

  58. Randy Jackson says:

    I watches a episode of Bones and is had the ice bullet in it ! But it also had a Blood bullet ! Seeing as blood is more dense then water can it acutely work !?!? Please try it !

    • Andrea Cassidy says:

      I was totally thinking the same thing! I hope they decide to try it!!

  59. Matt says:

    I think with the toilet, its normally hooked to an actual plumbing system and the gas is poured where it sits for a couple of hours before being lit.
    With the rain, I would started by standing there and seeing how wet you get, and then test by moving.
    With a bullet, why don’t you use bone? Like a bone carved into a bullet, or them geletin bullets with bone in them. I think it would survive the blast and could kill someone.

    • Ma'dam Jul says:

      Bone carved into the shape of a bullet. Here’s the thing though, everyone has a unique set of bones.

  60. Ma'dam Jul says:

    It would also take much careful work to carve a bullet from bone and most likely have to be from the femur, due to it’s thickness also leaving room for corrections in error of making said bone bullet.

  61. blobster says:

    plz plz plz re-vist the ice bullet one because
    all u have to do is apply pressure not gun powder because it clearly has too much heat and force a modified fire extinguisher will do it. so plz plz plz have one more go not for me for everyone on this page and +

  62. Serena says:

    The physics department at one of the Ivy League schools (sorry, it’s been too long since I read the article to remember which one) did a study that concluded that you get wetter running in the rain than walking.

  63. Stephen says:

    Flash freezing in nitrogen leaves anything brittle but what if they slow froze the bullet over a period of say 48 hours

  64. James says:

    Maybe the ice would be harder if it wasn’t instantly frozen with liquid nitrogen. Maybe putting the mold in a freezer will result in harder ice. You should also try and build an air gun to fire an ice bullet at the same rate as a gun. Or you can try and make an ice bullet for a cannon and maybe by the time it gets to the target it will be big enough to be deadly.

  65. Evan Rouse says:

    A metal bullet encased in ice, just enough to prevent the rifling from scratching the bullet and thus make it untraceable. Then the smaller metal projectile could impact and penetrate?

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