This video combines two fantastic things: the old reliable chem-lab trick of throwing sodium into water to watch it explode, and American newsreels from the 1940s and ’50s. Here, though, we’re not just talking about your standard vial-sized nugget, but 20,000 pounds of war-surplus sodium in massive 3,500-pound barrels.

Although the “let’s just throw it into the lake” disposal method is usually cause for environmental alarm (as the end of the video illustrates), here, the resulting NaOH (lye) from the reaction probably wouldn’t phase the pH of the already-fishless alkali lake to any significant degree. So sit back, free of disgust, and enjoy the action as, and I quote the old-timey newsreel announcer, “a once-lethal war chemical becomes a peacetime pyrotechnic display.” —John Mahoney