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What’s In A Smoke Signal? Vatican Reveals Ingredients

Black smoke billows from the chimney on the roof of the Sistine Chapel indicating that the College of Cardinals have failed to elect a new Pope on March 13, 2013 in Vatican City, Vatican.  (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Black smoke billows from the chimney on the roof of the Sistine Chapel indicating that the College of Cardinals have failed to elect a new Pope on March 13, 2013 in Vatican City, Vatican. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

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VATICAN CITY (CBSNewYork/AP) – The Vatican has revealed what the smoke signals emerging from the Sistine Chapel chimney are made of after the stir caused by how much more distinct the black smoke in this conclave has been compared to the past.

The Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said the black smoke that came Tuesday and Wednesday — indicating a pope had not been elected — was made by adding cartridges containing potassium perchlorate, anthracene (a component of coal tar), and sulfur to the burned ballots.

The white smoke signaling a pope has been elected is produced by potassium chlorate, lactose and chloroform resin.

The Vatican said the stove-pipes of the stove and the smoke-producing device join up and exit the roof of the Sistine Chapel as one pipe leading to the chimney on the roof.

The Vatican is burning the flares following confusion in past conclaves about smoke color. Prior to 2005, the Vatican said the black smoke was made by using smoke black or pitch. Wet straw was used to make white smoke.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)