Help me create a fake oil spill
July 1, 2010 2:46 AM   Subscribe

How can I create a fake oil spill?

I'm going to a party on a beach, on a river. I would like to create a fake "oil spill" on the beach without actually polluting the river. So, a giant vat of black food coloring is right out. (Even if it's truly harmless, I don't want to get into screaming matches with folks about it.)

I have roughly 24 hours before I drive up. Any ideas?
posted by lbergstr to Science & Nature (8 answers total)
A large roll of black material spread over the beach? Maybe cut into a wavey shape?
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:58 AM on July 1, 2010

It sounds like you are going to have to go for cartoony since realistic would be too hard to pull off, so yeah, rubber matting (or maybe wetted down black tar paper -- something heavy) cut into a number of small blotchy goopy puddle shapes. Maybe you could sell it by taking a toy tanker ship and cutting it at a diagonal angle and weighing it down so that it sits in a middle of a pile of fake puddle like it's been scuttled. Or perhaps find some buckets with the same aspect ratio as standard 55 gallon drums and paint them to look like ruptured barrels.
posted by Rhomboid at 3:12 AM on July 1, 2010

Apparently molasses is useful, though I don't know about dumping whole drums of it.
posted by Phanx at 5:33 AM on July 1, 2010

For about $40 you can get a black-colored pool solar cover, which stays afloat. It kind looks like that black thing in the lake from Creepshow 2. If you turn it upside down it has a smooth texture that might work for this application. I'm not sure which paints are safe to put in the water but it might be possible to paint a dark iridescent texture on the top of the cover for added effect.
posted by crapmatic at 5:57 AM on July 1, 2010

Best answer: Actually, some friends just last week staged a mock oil spill. They used large sheets of black plastic, the kind that garbage bags are made out of. Worked reasonably well.
posted by lunasol at 7:05 AM on July 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

Chocolate syrup.
posted by statolith at 8:43 AM on July 1, 2010

I'd vote for something that can be easily picked up after the party like a mat or plastic.

Molasses and chocolate syrup will be nasty if someone steps in it, and it will attract flies and other bugs.
posted by wrnealis at 9:33 AM on July 1, 2010

Black landscaping plastic (similar to what plastic trash bags are made of, but it comes in big rolls)
Cheap, and you can roll it up after you're done.
posted by zombiedance at 10:50 AM on July 1, 2010

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