William Kogut, Death by Playing Cards
William Kogut was on death row at San Quentin, but was never actually executed. In a note, he stated that only he should have the right to punish himself for his crimes, and so he committed suicide in a remarkable way.
He had decks of playing cards, a pipe, a broom, and a kerosene heater in his room. He tore the packs of playing cards to shreds, taking the pieces with red ink. At the time, the ink in these cards contained nitrocellulose, which is flammable when wet. He stuffed these into his pipe, then crammed a broom handle in behind them to plug the pipe. He then poured water through the other end of the pipe, which soaked the card pieces at the end into an explosive mixture. Finally, he put the plugged end against the kerosene heater in his room and the empty end against his head, creating something not unlike a shotgun.
The heat from the heater turned the water to steam, causing an explosive pressure build up that helped ignite the nitrocellulose solution. This in turn caused an explosion that actually shot pieces of playing cards through his skull.