I've come up with a haphazard design for grenades that coat their surroundings with slippery polytetrafluoroethylene when they explode, the purpose being an area denial weapon. If someone is chasing you, toss it behind you and your pursuer will either have to slow down to avoid falling, or fall flat on their ass if they don't take their time and slowly navigate the area covered in polytetrafluoroethylene. It could also be used to slow down people attempting to charge you in a gunfight since they'll have to concentrate on maneuvering cautiously while also firing their guns and making sure not to get shot themselves.

However, I'm no chemistry buff. From what I've gathered from internet research, polytetrafluoroethylene (which will be called PTFE from now on) cannot exist as a liquid and behave like it does as a solid. Instead of being a slippery liquid, it will be a horribly toxic powder. In order for my grenades to properly spread PTFE around the combat environment it would seem it would have to be PTFE powder suspended in some sort of solution within the grenade. The question, is what solution would be the most proper for containing the PTFE, and what processes would be necessary to cause the canister to launch PTFE in a 360 degree radius around it. The grenade would have a pin, and once the pin is pulled the countdown till the non-lethal PTFE explosion goes off would begin.

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    $\begingroup$ "Flash Bang" grenades already exist to stun and disorient people in a relatively non lethal manner. To "wet down" a large enough area with lubricant to be useful, you would need something like a tanker truck and a water cannon, $\endgroup$
    – Thucydides
    Jul 5, 2020 at 18:58
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    $\begingroup$ Also, rapidly expanding anything is indistinguishable from an explosion - ask anyone whose airbags have deployed. Odds are anything that could disperse the lubricant fast enough would fairly likely be lethal to anyone caught in the blast. $\endgroup$
    – jdunlop
    Jul 6, 2020 at 8:58

2 Answers 2


As previously mentioned, US military research in the 90s on slippery materials as a nonlethal means of area denial for crowd control suggested the concept was not effective. This was known as the Mobility Denial System.

Sticky materials also proved ineffective for other reasons (mainly, sticky foam is too dangerous if it gets over the face, and too difficult to remove if you are trying to apprehend people).

Incidentally, you would need something much bigger than a grenade to cover a significant area. enter image description here

Current non-lethal area denial systems being pursued by JIFCO (the former joint nonlethal weapons directorate) are based on different concepts such as the famous microwave 'pain beam.'


I don't think ptfe would be non letal even if you tryed.

I use PFTE tubes in my 3d printers and they are only as slippery as their surface finish. You see, if the surface of the tube is smooth it has really low friction, but with time it degrades from the contact with the filament and the surface becomes rought, and the friction increases.

If you coat the whole room in PTFE it would really just be as slippery as the surface finish, and would only be useful in a smooth steel floor.

If the intend is just to spread the nano particles of PTFE and not coat the room in a sheet of plastic it would make the room slippery but there are other problems.


When a fine powder is in contact with the air the ration of surface area to volume is so big that it becomes really easy to ignite. Flour factories have actually a big problem with this stuff. You can se more here.

In this article you can see that PTFE go trough a process called thermolysis in about 500ºC. In this process it goes from one chemical to another and the result is REALLY TOXIC.

In this other article they discuss the temperature inside explosions, tough it may vary, their data easily surpass 500ºC easily igniting the powder.

In case you have the powder suspended in a solution it may not ignite, but i don't know any solution that makes PFTE slipery, you see it is only slipery when dry.

At the situation in wich you survive the ball of fire the toxic fumes will certainly kill you.

My solution to you is this:


Wich lube?


The automotive sintetic oil 0W40 has a "w" in its name because of "winter". It is a oil that have their best properties in cold enviroments. And this is only one of the aspects that dictates the best lubricant for your needs.

In mechanical engeneering there is a need to really look to all the characteristics of the lube to expecific envyroments, to make someone running behind you fall, probably any sintetic oil lubricant or even water based lubricant will be enough.

You can put them in a pressurized canister that, with the pin pushed, will wait a few seconds before spray it in all directions. Some lubricants can even be pressurized to have the maximum amount per volume unit.

Is much more reliable and cheaper than PTFE. In the case that you need a more scifi element to your history, there is the BAM , or ALUMINUM MAGNESIUM BORIDE, the sliperiest substance on earth.

It has the same problem that PTFE has as in IT WILL BE LETHAL. This material needs to be sinterized in HUGE TEMPERATURES to have this low friction characteristic.


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