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Aerosol Flamethrower

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They say CFCs burn through the ozone layer, but why stop at just the ozone layer?

"You can't hurt me, Baby Bowler. 'Cause I'm protected. By the God of Haircare."
Tony P, Mystery Men

Using an aerosol can, such as hairspray, with a match or lighter as a makeshift flamethrower. A serious case of Don't Try This at Home, because there's a very real risk that the flames will heat the canister up enough for it to rupture and explode. You can accidentally poison yourself if you keep doing it, thanks to the fumes. Also, it smells terrible. See also Farts on Fire for a smaller, more comedic version of this.

Interestingly but for probably obvious reasons, the BBFC (the British censorship board) doesn't allow this trope to be shown in films or home video rated below "18", as they are pretty strict in banning what they deem is "imitable" and likely to cause injury and/or death if some dumb kid decided to copy an obviously dangerous action in a movie or TV show.

Subtrope of Improvised Weapon. Supertrope is Homemade Flamethrower. See also Booze Flamethrower, Molotov Cocktail, and Arrows on Fire. If a gas canister itself becomes a weapon, that's a Gas-Cylinder Rocket.


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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank: Paige uses one of these to attack Vernon after breaking into his house. She ends up setting the house on fire.
  • Bob claims to have improvised one to drive off a feral dog (or possibly a coyote) in the Knights of the Dinner Table strip "A Fish Story".
  • Done by Rorschach in Watchmen when he's cornered by the police at Moloch's home and has to improvise an escape.
  • Other Beth threatens Yorick with this when they first meet in Y: The Last Man.
    Yorick (entering a church): Hello? [...] I need to make a confession.
    Beth (pointing aerosol at him): Well, you know the drill... repent or burn.
    • Yorick, being a nerd, warns Beth that the flame will come back at her. It doesn't.

    Fan Works 
  • In A Fantastic Upheaval of Previously Held Notions, Barbara improvises one when defending her home against Rust Trolls.
  • In this Miraculous Ladybug fan comic, Alya uses one of these to attack the akuma butterfly that's going after Marinette. It goes... poorly.
    Marinette: EVERYTHING
  • Trifecta in Manehattan's Lone Guardian resorts to this in his attempt to kill Leviathan, flooding the building she was in with as much hair spray as he could get his hooves on before having his Torchounds set the facility aflame. When questioned about it later, he admits it was because there wasn't any propane available.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Used by Gwen Stacy in The Amazing Spider-Man to defend herself against The Lizard.
  • Done in Arachnophobia towards the end of the film, Ross uses an aerosol can and a lighter in an attempt to burn down The General. It doesn't work. In the PC game, this can be collected as a power-up for much greater effect.
  • Charles Bishop Weyland from AVP: Alien vs. Predator does this as a Heroic Sacrifice with a flare and a medicine inhaler. He gets butchered by a Predator hunter because he had a weapon, trumping the fact that he's a sick old man who the hunter would ignore otherwise.
  • In The Blues Brothers, Elwood uses a can of epoxy spray to torch an elevator control panel.
  • Buffy does this (igniting it off a burning cross) in the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie.
    Lothos: So this is your defense? Your puny faith? (he grasps the crucifix; it bursts into flame.)
    Buffy: No. My keen fashion sense. (she pulls a can of hair spray out of her purse.)
  • A variation in The Core as Keyes and Zimsky use this to inform that Pentagon generals of the threat of the Earth's core stopping.
    Keyes: (holding up an aerosol can) The sun. (holding up a peach on a fork) Earth without the EM Field. (sprays the peach while Zimsky fires up his lighter to ignite the peach).
  • It's done in Dog Soldiers as a last resort weapon.
  • Played to dramatic purposes during In the Name of the Father, in the scene when the prisoners are watching The Godfather, and one of them attacked a prison guard using this resource in a very violent and realistic way.
  • In It (2017), Patrick Hockstetter uses one of these.
  • In Jungle, Yossi improvises a flamethrower out of a can of bug spray and a lighter to scare off a jaguar.
  • Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood, where a victim gets chased into her bathroom and attacks the leprechaun with one of these when he busts through the door.
  • Live and Let Die: James Bond uses aerosol cologne and a lit cigar to kill a venomous snake in his hotel room.
  • The Monster (2016): Lizzy uses her mother's lighter and a can of aerosol antiseptic spray to defeat the eponymous monster.
  • In Monster Hunter (2020), Captain Artemis fires a canister of pure oxygen from the medical kit across a flare in order to torch a Nerscylla.
  • In Mystery Men, this is the weapon of choice for Tony P, Leader of the Disco Boys.
  • Done in French action movie The Nest (Nid de Guêpes). It works pretty well.
  • In Point Break (1991), the robbers use a gas pump to create a makeshift flamethrower to remove the evidence from their car.
  • The Final Girl of Psycho Cop Returns defends herself with one near the end, burning the villain's face.
  • In Serial Killing 4 Dummys, Amil uses an aerosol can to write his name in flames on his driveway. He starts talking to Casey before realizing he is still holding the flaming can and hurling it into the air just before it explodes.
  • In Serial Mom, Beverly uses one to turn Scotty into a Man on Fire as he attempts to flee from her on to the stage during the Camel Lips show at Hammerjacks.
  • The flight attendant, of all people, makes one in Snakes on a Plane. Apparently, she went through a pyromaniac phase as a kid. Of course, she's not nearly insane enough to use it, handing it off to Samuel L. Jackson instead.
  • Tales of Halloween: In "Trick", one of the murderous children uses an aerosol flamethrower to torch one of the adults.
  • Tomorrow: When the War Began. Lee uses one to start a cattle stampede after hissing like a snake fails to get them moving.
  • In True Lies, Arnold Schwarzenegger uses a gas-truck nozzle and the muzzle flash from his submachine gun to make a rather disturbingly powerful impromptu flamethrower.
  • True Romance: Alabama does one of these to Virgil, aka Tony Soprano, after his No-Holds-Barred Beatdown on her. She then finishes it off with a corkscrew through the foot.
  • In Watchmen, Rorschach uses a can of hairspray and a lighter to make a flamethrower to torch the police that are trying to arrest him
  • When Evil Calls: The girl who wishes to be hot gets her wish when she lights a cigarette just as her friend sitting next to her spritzes perfume in her direction. The lighter ignites the stream of perfume and sets her head on fire.

  • The Executioner: The title character is shown doing this on the cover of Council of Kings. He has to cross a roomful of deadly snakes, so borrows some cans of hairspray from the Girl of the Week and uses this trope to clear a path. The third can refuses to ignite so he ends up throwing it at a king cobra.
  • Done in The Mist, by Stephen King, in both the book and the movie.
  • Smith of The Red and the Rest uses a can of spray paint and a cigarette to light a couch on fire, creating a heavy, flaming blockade.
  • In RWBY: Roman Holiday, Trivia attempts to escape her locked room by applying an Aerosol Flamethrower to try and melt the locks (Or maybe just expand the metal to make it easier to pick). Unfortunately, Trivia realizes a little too late that her door is made out of wood, and her room is full of flammable items.
  • The Secret of the Ninth Planet, by Donald A. Wollheim. A giant amoeba creature is about to devour an astronaut, but it's Immune to Bullets as it has no vital organs. So his companion disconnects his oxygen hose and ignites it with the muzzle flare of his pistol.
  • The Tango Briefing by Adam Hall. British spy Quiller is being held at gunpoint by Egyptian intelligence operatives, waiting for their leader to arrive. He's next to his car, so he removes the fuelcap (hidden behind his back) and drops a lit match into the petrol tank, turning it into an impromptu flamethrower.
  • In Worm, Skitter creates one of these in Monarch 16.11 by hitting a soldier who was trying to light a Molotov Cocktail with her pepper spray.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Faith made one using a stove lighter and a can of kitchen oil in Angel in order to torture Wesley, which led to the relevant episode being the only one in the whole series to be rated "18" for home video release in Britain.
  • Burn Notice's Fiona Glenanne has pulled this trick a number of times, but in "Fast Friends", she combines this with a trashcan full of nail polish remover (which is largely made of acetate and extremely flammable) for a quick - and diversionary - bomb.
  • In the Charmed (1998) episode "The Day the Magic Died", the Halliwell sisters have to bring some nonmagical weapons into a meeting with demons, and the weapons have to be disguised as other things. One of them is an aerosol can of hairspray made into a flamethrower.
  • In the 2009 remake of The Day of the Triffids, the main character uses one of these to fend off a triffid.
  • In Deadliest Catch Edgar Hansen, deck boss on the crab boat Northwestern, likes to torment other crew members with these.
  • The Flash: In "Gone Rogue", Sherloque intends to use one of these against Queen Bee's robotic bees, but can't get it to work. So Cisco uses a breach to send the bees away instead.
  • Used by a naked Nikita in La Femme Nikita when her house is invaded.
  • Nate creates one in the Leverage episode "The Zanzibar Marketplace Job".
  • Frances' daughters make one out of Dawn's deodorant in a flashback in The Librarians (2007).
  • Used in Lost by Locke to kill a polar bear in a season three episode.
  • Victoria plans to use a can of hairspray and a lighter on an ex-boyfriend in an episode of Mike & Molly. Mike manages to talk her down and take the can and lighter away from her.
  • My Name Is Earl: Joy threatens to torch a childhood enemy with this and Earl mentions that she tried to cook a Thanksgiving turkey that way. The can of hairspray she was using, combined with Earl trying to light a cigarette, had explosive results, too.
  • The MythBusters did this with pepper spray. While testing if a pepper spray-covered shirt was flammable, they tested different brands to see if the pepper spray itself was flammable; of five types they tried, two were non-flammable, one created a stream of fire, and the other two gave large flames typical of this trope.
    • The test was inspired by an episode of CSI in which tasering a pepper-sprayed suspect set them on fire. (The Mythbusters themselves even get to make a cameo appearance in the expository scene where it's explained why the poor man went up in flames.)
  • In the Dutch reality TV series Oh Oh Tirol (basically a dutch Jersey Shore) Tatjana uses this to light a cigarette when she can't find a lighter. video at 0:24
  • In Once Upon a Time, Mary Margaret uses this against the Wraith.
  • Sam and Dean of Supernatural have been known to fall back on this tactic when their guns and other weapons don't do the job. Not very often (they've only done it twice), but when the situation calls for fire, they do what they have to.
    • It's notable that the first time they did this, it was an improvisation on Dean's part, using a can of insecticide and a lighter to fight off invading bugs. In the later episodes where fire was the weapon of choice, the brothers can be seen constructing their own temporary flamethrowers out of gas bottles and copper piping.
  • In a Christmas Episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Jake, Charles, and Gina end up locked in a department store that's swarmed with armed robbers, and neither Jake nor Charles have guns on them. Since she's a civilian, protecting Gina is their top priority, but she insists she wants to help and is quite eager to try this trope out. She gets her chance at the end of the episode when one of the robbers attempts to escape arrest, and Jake, for lack of any other ideas, tosses her a can of hairspray. She takes out her lighter, and the sudden burst of flame shocks the perp enough for him to fall over and be recaptured. And then Jake realizes he just gave Gina a working flamethrower.
    Gina: We don't need guns. I have a lighter, okay? We get some hairspray, make some flame throwers. Let's fry these bitches.
    Jake: No one is frying any bitches!

  • In the music video for Bon Jovi's "Always," the jealous boyfriend torches the artist's studio with the help of one. The version of the video that is most easily found online (such as on the band's official YouTube channel) has this part cut out for some reason, which results in the place going up in flames for no apparent reason.

    Tabletop Games 
  • They show up in GURPS: High-Tech but are unreliable, lack range, and get five seconds of firing time at best. They're still better than most improvised weapons, scarier too.
  • Stories have gone around of Vampire: The Masquerade players doing this. Based on standard game mechanics, this should be a brutally effective tactic against all but the most powerful vampires — if it doesn't outright kill your opponent, it will hurt them a lot worse than it would hurt a human, and will likely scare the living daylights out of them. However, the Game Master may have other ideas.
    • In the New World of Darkness setting, Hunter: The Vigil actually has rather in-depth rules for finding the supplies for and utilizing an aerosol flamethrower. Even against creatures who aren't particularly vulnerable to flames, a lucky Hunter can set them on fire which is one of the most effective ways to kill almost anything.
    • Building one of these as a vampire stalks the house is the example used for a time-limited extended action in Innocents.
  • In the XXXenophile Collectible Card Game, the illustration for the "Canned Heat" card shows a Green-Skinned Space Babe using the eponymous gizmo as an aerosol flamethrower to light her partner's post-coital cigarette.

  • Link broke Tracey out of prison in the stage musical of Hairspray using this method.

    Video Games 
  • 77p: Eggwife has a variant when you collect deodorant spray and combine it with your lighter.
  • One of the weapons in Alone in the Dark (2008).
  • One of the new weapons featured in Army Men II happens to be this.
  • Bad Day L.A. has one for the player which has a Zippo style lighter attached to it.
  • This is one of the many weapons you can find in Blood (1997). You can either use the traditional method or light it and toss it like a Molotov. Die Bug Die in Blood II: The Chosen works on the same principle, substituting the can of aerosol for a Cartoon Bug-Sprayer filled with extremely acidic and flammable bug spray.
  • A craftable weapon in Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead.
  • In Daxter, Daxter wields a spray gun that can paralyze metal bugs. Partway through the game, he gets an upgrade that lights the spray and makes it function as a flamethrower.
  • Of the many weapons in Die Hard Arcade, the lighter and especially the spray can seem all but useless at first. Then you put them together for results.
  • In From Next Door, Namie can wield one to hold off the creature and burn away the black substance blocking her front door. It does cause the house to catch fire as well, though.
  • In Judgment, Kengo uses one on Kaito when the family comes bailing Hamura the first time.
  • Kill It with Fire has one that's given to the player early in the game. In spite of its makeshift nature and the point of the game when it's received, it remains useful throughout most of the game.
  • You can do this with cans of hair spray in Kingdom of Loathing.
  • You have to make one in Kingdom O' Magic, in order to get rid of some seriously overgrown spiders.
  • Just one of many improvised weapons in Marc Eckō's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure.
  • In Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, Snake has to use this against the final boss. He has to jury-rig/MacGyver the weapon out of bits and pieces lying around, all the while being hunted by the machine-gun wielding Big Boss, whom Snake then has to burn to death with the homemade makeshift motherfucking flamethrower. Having to do that is part of what causes Snake's Heroic BSoD that he ends up retiring over between this and the next game.
  • In Police Quest 4: Open Season, you take out the serial killer this way after you are knocked out and stripped of your inventory.
  • Postal 2 gets one with the A Week in Paradise mod and Steam retail version. The effect looks more like slow-moving clouds of flame rather than a stream, which actually makes it useful for short-term area denial.Why? 
    • Postal III also gets one as the pepper spray's alt-fire.
  • When Project Zomboid introduced the Engineer profession, hairspray was among the household items an Engineer could work up into homebrew destructive contraptions. In this case, the unreliable handheld flamethrower is passed over for a fused incendiary bomb, basically a can of spray with a few sparklers held tightly in a wrapping of aluminum foil. With the addition of some Electrical skill and spare parts, the bomb can be upgraded with an adjustable timer, a proximity sensor, or a remote detonator.
  • Resident Evil:
    • In the Mercenaries Reunion mode of Resident Evil 5, Rebecca Chambers uses an aerosol can flamethrower as her special attack when an enemy is shot in the head. Especially hilarious because she is depicted as a small, weak, and fragile girl.
    • Resident Evil 7: The flamethrower weapon, The Burner, is an improvised number that is essentially a rig to automatically depress the nozzle on an aerosol can while lighting the fuel on the attached pilot light.
    • Resident Evil: Outbreak allows you to fashion a hairspray flamethrower together as a weapon.
  • In South Park: The Fractured but Whole, Towelie's primary attack in his boss fight is to light you and Cartman on fire with this. It's actually necessary as a way to burn the weed piles.
  • Downplayed Trope in Team Fortress 2: The Pyro does not use actual aerosol cans for any of his/her/its flamethrowers, but they appear to be garden and garage tools hooked up to a tank of propane. In any case, they're implicitly stated to be homemade and most likely horribly dangerous to the user. It's most notable on the Degreaser and the Stock Flamethrower. Completely averted by the Phlogstinator, however, as it is powered by 'alchemy'.
  • In Toy Soldiers: Cold War, Levels 2 and 3 of the makeshift unit are different versions of these.
  • In Until Dawn, Josh suggests to Chris that he search the abandoned cabin for a can of spray deodorant to use in conjunction with his lighter to thaw out the lock on the front door, although it is never actually used against the killer itself.

    Web Comics 
  • The Class Menagerie has a segment involving fighting man-eating ants with hairspray.
  • Homestuck:
    • Invoked when John tries to put out a fire in the salamander village with a shaving cream-based grenade. Despite his belief that this would quench the flames, the shaving cream just catches fire and spreads everywhere.
    • Later, during Egbertbound, one of the playable walkaround segments, John comes across a memorial commemorating brave salamander firefighters who gave their lives trying to contain a global firestorm that happened a short while before — by trying to smother it with more shaving cream, which backfired disastrously.
      A memorial would be erected in their honor. It would be inscribed with the last words so frequently overheard, words of widsom to remember.
      How can shaving cream be so flammable?
      How indeed, brave heroes.
      How indeed.
  • Last Res0rt has a scene that features a young Celeste trying to threaten an Efreet with one of these. It doesn't work.
  • Sequential Art: Pip from strips #8 and #9 chooses to use aerosol deodorant and a cigarette lighter to kill a spider in his shared flat's bathroom. It generates way more flames than anticipated, damaging much of the bathroom and leaving Pip with Ash Face. The gag sequence is viewable starting here.

    Web Videos 
  • As demonstrated in this vine. (Insert volume warning here)

    Western Animation 
  • The American Dad! episode "Kung Pao Turkey" has Stan trying to scare his Chinese in-laws away by wearing a cardboard Godzilla costume and attempting to imitate breathing fire using this method. He accidentally sets the head of his costume on fire and his mother-in-law puts it out with the water from a vase before telling him that Godzilla is from Japan.
  • In Home Movies, Melissa puts a can of hair spray in a microwave to explode the kitchen to make a daring escape.
  • In one Robot Chicken skit, Betty Crocker gets into a brawl with Sara Lee, which ends with her using this to set Lee's head on fire.
  • The Simpsons: In "Pranks and Greens", Homer attempts to put out a burning pile of snack foods by spraying it with Kool Whip. The topping catches fire and burns back up the stream to the can, which explodes.
  • The South Park episode "The Ungroundable" ends with the goths torching down a Hot Topic in this manner.
  • Unsupervised: Russ whips one out in "Fires & Liars".

    Real Life 
  • Torches/power lighters based on cans (normally lighter refill, not aerosol). The one most advanced so far was featured on BoingBoing. Safe only if both made and used with care, of course. But aside from overkilling pesky insects, these things are powerful enough to dry up wet firewood and thus good at starting campfires.
  • Flamethrowers that use gas instead of liquid fuel are basically this, but more controlled and intentional.
  • Silly String is prone to this— which people don't always realize. Watch out around birthday candles.
  • This trope gets tested a lot in real life, mostly by young teenage boys with deodorant. Luckily for parents everywhere, most of them have enough sense to keep the can far from their face and to use really short bursts.
    • A few videos on YouTube of people using this to get rid of wasp nests. This gets mixed results since even though the nest is made of what is basically paper, not all the wasps will be killed every time.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Hair Spray Flamethrower


Police Quest 4 - Torch

Combining the lighter with the hairspray creates a torch which is used by John to stop a dangerous psycho.

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Example of:

Main / AerosolFlamethrower

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