Preparation And Mechanisms Of High And Low

Grade Explosives Essay, Research Paper EXPLOSIVE FORMULAS Once again, persons reading this material should never attempt to produce any of the explosives described here. It is illegal and extremely dangerous to do so. Loss of life and limbs could easily result from a failed (or successful) attempt to produce any explosives or hazardous chemicals.

Grade Explosives Essay, Research Paper

EXPLOSIVE FORMULAS Once again, persons reading this material should never attempt to produce any of the explosives described here. It is illegal and extremely dangerous to do so. Loss of life and limbs could easily result from a failed (or successful) attempt to produce any explosives or hazardous chemicals. These procedures are correct, however many of the methods given here are usually scaled down industrial procedures, and therefore may be better suited to large scale production. Explosive Theory An explosive is any material that, when ignited by heat, shock, or chemical reaction, undergoes rapid decomposition or oxidation. This process releases energy that is stored in the material. The energy, in the form of heat and light, is released when the material breaks down into gaseous compounds that occupy a much larger volume that the explosive did originally. Because this expansion is very rapid, the expanding gasses displace large volumes of air. This expansion often occurs at a speed greater than the speed of sound, creating a shockwave similar to the sonic boom produced by high-speed jet planes. Explosives occur in several forms: high order explosives (detonating explosives),low order explosives (deflagrating explosives), primers, and some explosives which can progress from deflagrating to detonation. All high order explosives are capable of detonation. Some high order explosives may start out burning (deflagration) and progress to detonation. A detonation can only occur in a high order explosive. Detonation is caused by a shockwave that passes through a block of the high explosive material. High explosives consist of molecules with many high-energy bonds. The shockwave breaks apart the molecular bonds between the atoms of the material, at a rate approximately equal to the speed of sound traveling through that substance. Because high explosives are generally solids or liquids, this speed can be much greater than the speed of sound in air. Unlike low-explosives, the fuel and oxidizer in a high-explosive are chemically bonded, and this bond is usually too strong to be easily broken. Usually a primer made from a sensitive high explosive is used to initiate the detonation. When the primer detonates it sends a shockwave through the high-explosive. This shockwave breaks apart the bonds, and the chemicals released recombine to produce mostly gasses. Some examples of high explosives are dynamite, ammonium nitrate, and RDX. Low order explosives do not detonate. Instead they burn (undergo oxidation) at a very high rate. When heated, the fuel and oxidizer combine to produce heat, light, and gaseous products. Some low order materials burn at about the same speed under pressure as they do in the open, such as blackpowder. Others, such as smokeless gunpowder (which is primarily nitrocellulose) burn much faster and hotter when they are in a confined space, such as the barrel of a firearm; they usually burn much slower than blackpowder when they are ignited in the open. Blackpowder, nitrocellulose, and flash powder are common examples of low order explosives. Primers are the most dangerous explosive compounds in common use. Some of them, such as mercury fulminate, will function as a low or high order explosive. They are chosen because they are more sensitive to friction, heat, and shock, than commonly used high or low explosives. Most primers perform like a dangerously sensitive high explosive. Others merely burn, but when they are confined, they burn at a very high rate and with a large expansion of gasses that produces a shockwave. A small amount of a priming material is used to initiate, or cause to decompose, a large quantity of relatively insensitive high explosives. They are also frequently used as a reliable means of igniting low order explosives. The gunpowder in a bullet is ignited by the detonation of the primer. Blasting caps are similar to primers, but they usually include both a primer and some intermediate explosive. Compounds used as primers can include lead azide, lead styphnate, diazodinitrophenol or mixtures of two or more of them. A small charge of PETN, RDX, or pentolite may be included in the more powerful blasting caps, such as those used in grenades. The small charge of moderately-sensitive high explosive initiates a much larger charge of insensitive high explosive. Impact Explosives Impact explosives are often used as primers. Of the ones discussed here, only mercury fulminate and nitroglycerine are real explosives; Ammonium triiodide crystals decompose upon impact, but they release little heat and no light. Impact explosives are always treated with the greatest care, and nobody without an extreme death wish would store them near any high or low explosives. Ammonium triiodide crystals (nitrogen triiodide) Ammonium triiodide crystals are foul smelling purple colored crystals that decompose under the slightest amount of heat, friction, or shock, if they are made with the purest ammonia (ammonium hydroxide) and iodine. Such crystals are so sensitive that they will decompose when a fly lands on them, or when an ant walks across them. Household ammonia, however, has enough impurities, such as soaps and abrasive agents, so that the crystals will detonate only when thrown, crushed, or heated. The ammonia available in stores comes in a variety of forms. The pine and cloudy ammonia should not be used; only the strong clear ammonia can be used to make ammonium triiodide crystals. Upon detonation, a loud report is heard, and a cloud of purple iodine gas will appear. Whatever the unfortunate surface that the crystal was detonated upon, it will probably be ruined, as some of the iodine in the crystal is thrown about in a solid form, and iodine is corrosive. It leaves nasty, ugly, brownish-purple stains on whatever it contacts. These stains can be removed with photographer’s hypo solution, or with the dechlorinating compound sold for use in fish tanks. Iodine fumes are also bad news, since they can damage your lungs, and they will settle to the ground,leaving stains there as well. Contact with iodine leaves brown stains on the skin that last for about a week, unless they are immediately and vigorously washed off. Ammonium triiodide crystals could be produced in the following manner: Materials iodine crystalsfunnel filter paperglass stirring rod paper towels clear ammoniatwo glass jarspotassium iodide 1) Place 5 grams of iodine into one of the glass jars. Because the iodine is very difficult to remove, use jars that you don’t want to save. 2) Add enough ammonia to completely cover the iodine. Stir several times, then add 5 grams of potassium iodide. Stir for 30 seconds. 3) Place the funnel into the other jar, and put the filter paper in the funnel. The technique for putting filter paper in a funnel is taught in every basic chemistry lab class: fold the circular paper in half, so that a semicircle is formed. Then, fold it in half again to form a triangle with one curved side. Pull one thickness of paper out to form a cone, and place the cone into the funnel. 4) After allowing the iodine to soak in the ammonia for a while, pour the solution into the paper in the funnel through the filter paper. 5) While the solution is being filtered, put more ammonia into the first jar to wash any remaining crystals into the funnel as soon as it drains. 6) Collect all the crystals without touching the brown filter paper, and place them on the paper towels to dry. Make sure that they are not too close to any lights or other sources of heat, as they could well detonate. While they are still wet, divide the wet material into small pieces as large as your thumbnail. To use them, simply throw them against any surface or place them where they will be stepped on or crushed. When the crystals are disturbed they decompose into iodine vapor, nitrogen, and ammonia. 3I2 + 5NH4OH 3 NH4I + NH3NI3 + 5H2O iodine + ammonium hydroxide ammonium iodide + ammonium nitrogen triiodide + water The optimal yield from pure iodine is 54% of the original mass in the form of the explosive sediment. The remainder of the iodine remains in the solution of ammonium iodide, and can be extracted by extracting the water (vacuum distillation is an efficient method) and treating the remaining product with chlorine. Mercury Fulminate Mercury fulminate is perhaps one of the oldest known initiating compounds. It can be detonated by either heat or shock. Even the action of dropping a crystal of the fulminate can cause it to explode. This material can be produced through the following procedure: MATERIALS 5 g mercury glass stirring rod blue litmus paper 35 ml conc nitric acid filter paper small funnel 100 ml beaker (2) acid resistant gloves heat source 30 ml ethyl alcohol distilled water Solvent alcohol must be at least 95% ethyl alcohol if it is used to make mercury fulminate. Methyl alcohol may prevent mercury fulminate from forming. Mercury thermometers are becoming a rarity, unfortunately. They may be hard to find in most stores as they have been superseded by alcohol and other less toxic fillings. Mercury is also used in mercury switches, which are available at electronics stores. Mercury is a hazardous substance, and should be kept in the thermometer, mercury switch, or other container until used. At room temperature mercury vapor is evolved, and it can be absorbed through the skin. Once in your body mercury will cause damage to the brain and other organs. For this reason, it is a good idea not to spill mercury, and to always use it outdoors. Also, do not get it in an open cut; rubber gloves will help prevent this. 1) In one beaker, mix 5 g of mercury with 35 ml of concentrated nitric acid, using the glass rod. 2) Slowly heat the mixture until the mercury is dissolved, which is when the solution turns green and boils. 3) Place 30 ml of ethyl alcohol into the second beaker, and slowly and carefully add all of the contents of the first beaker to it. Red and/or brown fumes should appear. These fumes are toxic and flammable. 4) between thirty and forty minutes after the fumes first appear, they should turn white, indicating that the reaction is near completion. After ten more minutes, add 30 ml distilled water to the solution. 5) Carefully filter out the crystals of mercury fulminate from the liquid solution. Dispose of the solution in a safe place, as it is corrosive and toxic. 6) Wash the crystals several times in distilled water to remove as much excess acid as possible. Test the crystals with the litmus paper until they are neutral. This will be when the litmus paper stays blue when it touches the wet crystals. 7) Allow the crystals to dry, and store them in a safe place, far away from any explosive or flammable material. This procedure can also be done by volume, if the available mercury cannot be weighed. Simply use 10 volumes of nitric acid and 10 volumes of ethanol to every one volume of mercury. Nitroglycerin (C3H5N3O9) Nitroglycerin is one of the most sensitive explosives ever to be commercially produced. It is a very dense liquid, and is sensitive to heat, impact, and many organic materials. Although it is not water soluble, it will dissolve in 4 parts of pure ethyl alcohol. Heat of Combustion: 1580 cal/g Products of Explosion: Carbon Dioxide, Water, Nitrogen, Oxygen Human Toxicity: Highly toxic vasodilator, avoid skin contact! Although it is possible to make it safely, it is difficult to do so in small quantities. Many a young pyrotechnician has been killed or seriously injured while trying to make the stuff. When Nobel’s factories make it, many people were killed by the all-to-frequent factory explosions. Usually, as soon as nitroglycerin is made, it is converted into a safer substance, such as dynamite. A person foolish enough to make nitroglycerine could use the following procedure: EQUIPMENT distilled water eyedropper thermometer 1 100 ml beaker 20 g sodium bicarbonate glycerine 3 300 ml beakers 13 ml concentrated nitric acid blue litmus paper 39 ml concentrated sulfuric acid 2 ice baths: 2 small non-metallic containers each filled halfway with: crushed ice 6 tablespoons table salt The salt will lower the freezing point of the water, increasing the cooling efficiency of the ice bath. 1) Prepare the two ice baths. While the ice baths are cooling, pour 150 ml of distilled water into each of the beakers. 2) Slowly add sodium bicarbonate to the second beaker, stirring constantly. Do not add too much sodium bicarbonate to the water. If some remains undissolved, pour the solution into a fresh beaker. 3) Place the 100 ml beaker into the ice bath, and pour the 13 ml of concentrated nitric acid into the 100 ml beaker. Be sure that the beaker will not spill into the ice bath, and that the ice bath will not overflow into the beaker when more materials are added to it. Be sure to have a large enough container to add more ice if it gets too warm. Bring the temperature of the acid down to 20. centigrade or less. 4) Slowly and carefully add 39 ml of concentrated sulfuric acid to the nitric acid. Mix well, then cool the mixture to 10. centigrade. Do not be alarmed if the temperature rises slightly when the acids are mixed. 5) With the eyedropper, slowly drip the glycerine onto the acid mixture, one drop at a time. Hold the thermometer along the top of the mixture where the mixed acids and glycerine meet. The glycerine will start to nitrate immediately, and the temperature will immediately begin to rise. Do not allow the temperature to rise above 30. celsius. If the temperature is allowed to get to high, the nitroglycerin may decompose spontaneously as it is formed. Add glycerine until there is a thin layer of glycerine on top of the mixed acids. 6) Stir the mixture for the first ten minutes of nitration, if neccessary adding ice and salt to the ice bath to keep the temperature of the solution in the 100 ml beaker well below 30.. The nitroglycerine will form on the top of the mixed acid solution, and the concentrated sulfuric acid will absorb the water produced by the reaction. 7) When the reaction is over, the nitroglycerine should be chilled to below 25.. You can now slowly and carefully pour the solution of nitroglycerine and mixed acid into the beaker of distilled water in the beaker . The nitroglycerine should settle to the bottom of the beaker, and the water-acid solution on top can be poured off and disposed of. Drain as much of the acid-water solution as possible without disturbing the nitroglycerine. 8) Carefully remove a small quantity of nitroglycerine with a clean eye-dropper, and place it into the beaker filled in step 2. The sodium bicarbonate solution will eliminate much of the acid, which will make the nitroglycerine less likely to spontaneously explode. Test the nitroglycerine with the litmus paper until the litmus stays blue. Repeat this step if necessary, using new sodium bicarbonate solutions each time. 9) When the nitroglycerine is as acid-free as possible, store it in a clean container in a safe place. The best place to store nitroglycerine is far away as possible from anything of value. Nitroglycerine can explode for no apparent reason, even if it is stored in a secure cool place. Picrates Although the procedure for the production of picric acid, or trinitrophenol has not yet been given, its salts are described first, since they are extremely sensitive, and detonate on impact. By mixing picric acid with a warm solution of a metal hydroxide, such as sodium or potassium hydroxide, metal picrates are formed. These picrates are easily soluble in warm water, (potassium picrate will dissolve in 4 parts water at 100. C), but relatively insoluble in cold water (potassium picrate will dissolve in 200 parts water at 10. C). While many of these picrates are dangerously impact sensitive, others are almost safe enough for a suicidal person to consider their manufacture. To convert picric acid into potassium picrate, you first need to obtain picric acid, or produce it by following the instructions given on page 26. If the acid is in solid form it should be mixed with 10% water (by weight). Prepare a moderately strong (6 mole) solution of potassium hydroxide, and heat it until it almost reaches a slow boil. Lower the temperature 10 degrees, and slowly add the picric acid solution. At first the mixture should bubble strongly, releasing carbon dioxide. when the bubbles cease stop adding picric acid. Cool the solution to 10. C. Potassium picrate will crystallize out. The solution should be properly disposed of. These crystals are impact-sensitive, and can be used as an initiator for any type of high explosive. The crystals should be stored in a plastic or glass container under distilled water. Low Order Explosives Low order explosives can be defined as a single compound of mixture of compounds which burns at a high rate producing a large amount of gas, which is usually accompanied by heat and light. Most have the following components. An oxidizer: This can be any chemical which contains a large amount of oxygen. When heated the oxidizer gives up this oxygen. A fuel: The fuel is often carbon, or a finely powdered metal. It is the material that does the actual burning. A catalyst: The catalyst makes it easier for the oxidizer to react with the fuel, and is mandatory for many of the less powerful explosives. Not all low explosives need a catalyst, and in many cases (such as flash powder) adding a catalyst can make the explosive dangerously sensitive. There are many low-order explosives that can be purchased in gun stores and used in explosive devices. However, it is possible that a wise store owner would not sell these substances to a suspicious-looking individual. Such an individual would then be forced to resort to making his own low-order explosives. There are many common materials which can be used to produce low explosives. With a strong enough container, almost any mixture of an oxidizer and a fuel can be used to make an explosive device. Black Powder First made by the Chinese for use in fireworks, black powder was first used in weapons and explosives in the 12th century. It is very simple to make, but it is not very powerful or safe. Only about half the mass of black powder is converted to hot gasses when it is burned; the other half is released as very fine burned particles. Black powder has one major danger: it can be ignited by static electricity. This is very hazardous, and it means that the material must be made with wooden or clay tools to avoid generating a static charge. MATERIALS 75 g potassium nitrate distilled water charcoal wooden salad bowl 10 g sulfur wooden spoon heat source breathing filter grinding bowl 3 plastic bags 500 ml beaker fine mesh screen 1) Place a small amount of the potassium or sodium nitrate in the grinding bowl and grind it to a very fine powder. Grind all of the potassium or sodium nitrate, and pass it through the screen to remove any large particles. Store the sifted powder in one of the plastic bags. 2) Repeat step one with the sulfur and charcoal, being careful to grind each chemical with a clean bowl and tool. store each chemical in a separate plastic bag. 3) Place all of the finely ground potassium or sodium nitrate in the beaker, and add just enough boiling water to the chemical to moisten it uniformly. 4) Add the contents of the other plastic bags to the wet potassium or sodium nitrate, and mix them well for several minutes. Do this until there is no more visible sulfur or charcoal, or until the mixture is universally black. 5) On a warm sunny day, put the beaker outside in the direct sunlight. Sunlight is really the best way to dry black powder, since it is seldom too hot, but it is usually hot enough to evaporate the water. 6) Using a wooden tool, scrape the black powder out of the beaker, and store it in a safe container. Static proof plastic is really the safest container, followed by paper. Never store black powder in a plastic bag, since plastic bags are prone to generate static electricity. If a small packet of desiccant is added the powder will remain effective indefinitely. Nitrocellulose Nitrocellulose is commonly called “gunpowder” or “guncotton”. It is more stable than black powder, and it produces a much greater volume of hot gas. It also burns much faster than black powder when in a confined space. Although the acids used can be very dangerous if safety precautions are not followed, nitrocellulose is fairly easy to make, as outlined by the following procedure: MATERIALS cotton (cellulose) (2) 300 ml beakers small funnel blue litmus paper concentrated nitric acid concentrated sulfuric acid distilled water glass rod 1) Pour 10 cc of concentrated sulfuric acid into the beaker. Add to this 10 cc of concentrated nitric acid. 2) Immediately add 0.5 gm of cotton, and allow it to soak for exactly 3 minutes. 3) Remove the nitrated cotton, and transfer it to a beaker of distilled water to wash it in. 4) Allow the material to dry, and then re-wash it. 5) After the cotton is neutral when tested with litmus paper, it is ready to be dried and stored. One common formula specifies 3 parts sulfuric acid to one part nitric acid. This has not been demonstrated to be more effective than equal volumes of each. Runaway nitration is commonplace, but it is usually not disastrous. It has been suggested that pre-washing the cotton cloth in a solution of lye, and rinsing it well in distilled water before nitrating can help prevent runaway nitration. If the reaction appears to be more vigorous than expected, water will quench the runaway reaction of cellulose. WARNINGS All the usual warnings about strong acids apply. H2SO4 has a tendency to spatter. When it falls on the skin, it destroys tissue very painfully. It dissolves all manner of clothing. Nitric also damages skin, turning it bright yellow in the process of eating away at your flesh. Nitric acid is a potent oxidizer and it can start fires. Most strong acids will happily blind you if you get them in your eyes, and these are no exception. Nitrocellulose decomposes very slowly on storage if isn’t correctly stabilized. The decomposition is auto-catalyzing, and can result in spontaneous explosion if the material is kept confined over time. The process is much faster if the material is not washed well enough. Nitrocellulose powders contain stabilizers such as diphenyl amine or ethyl centralite. Do not allow these to come into contact with nitric acid! A small amount of either substance added to the washed product will capture the small amounts of nitrogen oxides that result from decomposition. They therefore inhibit the autocatalysis. NC eventually will decompose in any case. Commercially produced Nitrocellulose is stabilized by spinning it in a large centrifuge to remove the remaining acid, which is recycled. It is then boiled in acidulated water and washing thoroughly with fresh water. If the NC is to be used as smokeless powder it is boiled in a soda solution, then rinsed in fresh water. The purer the acid used (lower water content) the more complete the nitration will be, and the more powerful the nitrocellulose produced. There are actually three forms of cellulose nitrate, only one of which is useful for pyrotechnic purposes. The mononitrate and dinitrate are not explosive, and are produced by incomplete nitration. The explosive trinatrate is only formed when the nitration is allowed to proceed to completion. Perchlorates As a rule, any oxidizable material that is treated with perchloric acid will become a low order explosive. Metals, however, such as potassium or sodium, become excellent bases for flash type powders. Some materials that can be perchlorated are cotton, paper, and sawdust. To produce potassium or sodium perchlorate, simply acquire the hydroxide of that metal, e.g. sodium or potassium hydroxide. It is a good idea to test the material to be treated with a very small amount of acid, since some of the materials tend to react explosively when contacted by picric acid. Solutions of sodium or potassium hydroxide are ideal. Perchlorates are much safer than similar chlorates, and equally as powerful. Mixtures made with perchlorates are somewhat more difficult to ignite than mixtures containing chlorates, but the increased safety outweighs this minor inconvenience. Flash Powder Flash powder is a fast, powerful explosive, and comes very close to many high explosives. It is a very hazardous mixture to work with, due to the sensitivity of the powder. It is extremely sensitive to heat or sparks, and should never be mixed with other chemicals or black powder. It burns very rapidly with a intense white flash, and will explode if confined. Large quantities may explode even when not confined. This is because a large pile of flash powder is self-confining, causing the explosion. Flash powder is commonly made with aluminum and/or magnesium. Other metals can be used, but most others are either two expensive (zirconium) or not reactive enough to be effective (zinc) Here are a few basic precautions to take if you’re crazy enough to produce your own flash powder: 1) Grind the oxidizer (KNO3, KClO3, KMnO4, KClO4 etc) separately in a clean container. If a mortar and pestle is used, it should be washed out with alcohol before being used to grind any other materials. 2) NEVER grind or sift the mixed composition. Grinding and sifting can cause friction or static electricity. 3) Mix the powders on a large sheet of paper, by rolling the composition back and forth. This technique is described in detail on page 3 4) Do not store flash compositions for any amount of time. Many compounds, especially ones containing magnesium, will decompose over time and may ignite spontaneously. 5) Make very small quantities at first, so you can appreciate the power of such mixtures. Quantities greater than 10 grams should be avoided. Most flash powders are capable of exploding if a quantity of more than 50 grams is ignited unconfined, and all flash powders will explode even with minimal confinement (I have seen 10 g of flash wrapped in a single layer of waxed paper explode) 6) Make sure that all the components of the mixture are as dry as possible. Check the melting point of the substances, and dry them (separately) in a warm oven. If KNO3 is used it must be very pure and dry, or it will evolve ammonia fumes. Almost any potent oxidizer can be used for flash powder. Some materials may react with the fuel, especially if magnesium is used. KClO4 with Al is generally found in commercial fireworks, this does not mean that it is safe, but it is safer than KClO3 if handled correctly. The finer the oxidizer and the finer the metal powder the more powerful the explosive, except in the case of aluminum. This of course will also increase the sensitivity of the flash powder. Beyond a certain point, the finer the aluminum powder the less powerful the explosive, due to the coating of aluminum oxide which forms on the surface of the aluminum granules. NOTE: Flash powder in any container will detonate. This includes even a couple of layers of newspaper, or other forms of loosely confined flash. Potassium perchlorate is safer than sodium/potassium chlorate. High Order Explosives High order explosives can be made in the home without too much difficulty. The main problem is acquiring the nitric acid to produce the high explosive. Most high explosives detonate because their molecular structure is made up of some fuel and usually three or more nitrogen dioxide molecules. Trinitrotoluene is an excellent example of such a material. When a shock wave passes through an molecule of T.N.T., the nitrogen dioxide bond is broken, and the oxygen combines with the fuel, all in a matter of microseconds. This accounts for the great power of nitrogen-based explosives. Remembering that these procedures are never to be carried out, several methods of manufacturing high-order explosives in the home are listed. R.D.X. R.D.X., (also called cyclonite, or composition C-1 when mixed with plasticisers) is one of the most valuable of all military explosives. This is because it has more than 150% of the power of T.N.T., and is much easier to detonate. It should not be used alone, since it can be set off by a moderate shock. It is less sensitive than mercury fulminate or nitroglycerine, but it is still too sensitive to be used alone. R.D.X. can be produced by the method given below. It is much easier to make in the home than all other high explosives, with the possible exception of ammonium nitrate. MATERIALS hexamine or methenamine 1000 ml beaker ice bath glass stirring rod thermometer funnel filter paper distilled water ammonium nitrate nitric acid (550 ml) blue litmus paper small ice bath 1) Place the beaker in the ice bath, (see page 15) and carefully pour 550 ml of concentrated nitric acid into the beaker. 2) When the acid has cooled to below 20., add small amounts of the crushed fuel tablets to the beaker. The temperature will rise, and it must be kept below 30., or dire consequences could result. Stir the mixture. 3) Drop the temperature below zero degrees celsius, either by adding more ice and salt to the old ice bath, or by creating a new ice bath. Continue stirring the mixture, keeping the temperature below zero for twenty minutes. 4) Pour the mixture into 1 liter of crushed ice. Shake and stir the mixture, and allow it to melt. Once it has melted, filter out the crystals, and dispose of the corrosive liquid. 5) Place the crystals into one half a liter of boiling distilled water. Filter the crystals, and test them with the blue litmus paper. Repeat steps 4 and 5 until the litmus paper remains blue. This will make the crystals more stable and safe. 6) Store the crystals wet until ready for use. Allow them to dry completely before using them. R.D.X. is not stable enough to use alone as an explosive. Composition C-1 can be made by mixing (measure by weight) R.D.X. 88% mineral oil11% lecithin 1% Knead these material together in a plastic bag. This is one way to desensitize the explosive. HMX. is a mixture of TNT and RDX; the ratio is 50/50, by weight. it is not as sensitive as unadultered RDX and it is almost as powerful as straight RDX. By adding ammonium nitrate to the crystals of RDX produced in step 5, it is possible to desensitize the R.D.X. and increase its power, since ammonium nitrate is very insensitive and powerful. Sodium or potassium nitrate could also be added; a small quantity is sufficient to stabilize the RDX. RDX. detonates at a rate of 8550 meters/second when it is compressed to a density of 1.55 g/cubic cm. Ammonium Nitrate (NH4NO3) Ammonium nitrate can be made by following the method given on page 10, or it could be obtained from a construction site, since it is commonly used in blasting, because it is very stable and insensitive to shock and heat. A well-funded researcher could also buy numerous “Instant Cold-Paks” from a drug store or medical supply store. The major disadvantage with ammonium nitrate, from a pyrotechnical point of view, is detonating it. A rather powerful priming charge must be used, or a booster charge must be added. [ ILLUSTRATIONS AVAILABLE ONLY IN COMMERICIAl PRINTED RELEASE ] The primer explodes, detonating the T.N.T., which detonates, sending a tremendous shockwave through the ammonium nitrate, detonating it. Ammonium Nitrate – Fuel Oil Solution Ammonium Nitrate – Fuel Oil Solution, also known as ANFO, is a commonly used high explosive. ANFO solves one of the major problem with ammonium nitrate: its tendency to pick up water vapor from the air. This absorption results in the explosive failing to detonate when fired. This is less of a problem with ANFO because it consists of 94% (by weight) ammonium nitrate mixed with 6% fuel oil (kerosene). The kerosene helps keep the ammonium nitrate from absorbing moisture from the air. This mixture, like straight ammonium nitrate, is very insensitive to shock. It requires a very powerful shockwave to detonate it, and is not very effective in small quantities. Usually a booster charge, consisting of dynamite or a commercial cast charge, is used for reliable detonation. Some commercial ANFO explosives have a small amount of aluminum added, increasing the power and sensitivity. These forms can often be reliably initiated by a No. 8 blasting cap. These disadvantages are outweighed by two important advantages of ammonium nitrate explosives- cost, and safety. In industrial blasting these factors are much more important than in recreational activities, and this has contributed to the popularity of these explosives. If the explosive is initiated without confinement it not propagate well, and most of the ammonium nitrate will burn and scatter, rather than detonation as most other high explosives would. Ammonium nitrate explosives are much cheaper per pound than most other explosives, with the price per pound at about 1/10 that of dynamite. Straight ammonium nitrate can be transported to the blasting site without the extract expenses incurred when transporting high explosives. At the site, the ammonium nitrate, in the form of small pellets, or prills, can be mixed with the fuel oil just prior to blasting. If too much oil is added the power of the mixture will decrease, because the extra oil will absorb some of the energy from the ammonium nitrate, and it tends to slow propagation. If commercial fertilizer is used to provide the ammonium nitrate, it must be crushed to be effective. This is because fertilizer grade ammonium nitrate is coated with a water resistant substance which helps keep moisture from decomposing the material. This material also keeps the fuel oil from soaking into the ammonium nitrate. If fertilizer grade material is poured into a vat of warm, liquified wax, the coating will be displaced by the wax, which can also serve as fuel for the ammonium nitrate. This form is more sensitive than the fuel oil mixture, and does not require as much confinement as ANFO. Trinitrotoluene T.N.T., or 2,4,6 trinitrotoluene, is perhaps the second oldest known high explosive. Dynamite, of course, was the first. T.N.T. is certainly the best known high explosive, since it has been popularized by early morning cartoons, and because it is used as a standard for comparing other explosives. In industrial production TNT is made by a three step nitration process that is designed to conserve the nitric and sulfuric acids, so that the only resource consumed in quantity is the toluene. A person with limited funds, however, should probably opt for the less economical two step method. This process is performed by treating toluene with very strong (fuming) sulfuric acid. Then, the sulfated toluene is treated with very strong (fuming) nitric acid in an ice bath. Cold water is added to the solution, and the T.N.T. is filtered out. Potassium Chlorate (KClO3) Potassium chlorate itself cannot be made in the home, but it can be obtained from labs and chemical supply houses. It is moderately water soluble, and will explode if brought into contact with sulfuric acid. It is toxic and should not be brought into contact with organic matter, including human skin. If potassium chlorate is mixed with a small amount of vaseline, or other petroleum jelly, and a shockwave is passed through it, the material will detonate, however it is not very powerful, and it must be confined to explode it in this manner. The procedure for making such an explosive is outlined below: MATERIALS potassium chlorate zip-lock plastic bag wooden spoon petroleum jelly grinding bowl wooden bowl 1) Grind the potassium chlorate in the grinding bowl carefully and slowly, until the potassium chlorate is a very fine powder. The finer the powder, the faster it will detonate, but it will also decompose more quickly. 2) Place the powder into the plastic bag. Put the petroleum jelly into the plastic bag, getting as little on the sides of the bag as possible, i.e. put the vaseline on the potassium chlorate powder. 3) Close the bag, and knead the materials together until none of the potassium chlorate is dry powder that does not stick to the main glob. If necessary, add a bit more petroleum jelly to the bag. Over time the this material will decompose, and if not used immediately the strength will be greatly reduced. Dynamite (various compositions) The name dynamite comes from the Greek word “dynamis”, meaning power. Dynamite was invented by Nobel shortly after he made nitroglycerine. He tried soaking the nitroglycerine into many materials, in an effort to reduce its sensitivity. In the process, he discovered that Nitrocellulose would explode if brought into contact with fats or oils. A misguided individual with some sanity would, after making nitroglycerine would immediately convert it to dynamite. This can be done by adding one of a number of inert materials, such as sawdust, to the raw nitroglycerine. The sawdust holds a large weight of nitroglycerine. Other materials, such as ammonium nitrate could be added, and they would tend to desensitize the explosive, while increasing the power. But even these nitroglycerine compounds are not really safe. One way to reliably stabilize nitroglycerin is to freeze it. In its frozen state, nitroglycerine is much less sensitive to shock, and can safely be transported. The only drawback to this method is that the nitroglycerine may explode spontaneously while being thawed. Nitrostarch Explosives Nitrostarch explosives are simple to make, and are fairly powerful. All that need be done is treat any of a number of starches with a mixture of concentrated nitric and sulfuric acids. Nitrostarch explosives are of slightly lower power than T.N.T., but they are more readily detonated. MATERIALS filter paperpyrex container (100 ml)distilled water glass rod 20 ml concentrated sulfuric acidacid-resistant gloves 1 g starch20 ml concentrated nitric acid 1) Add concentrated sulfuric acid to an equal volume of concentrated nitric acid in the pyrex container. Watch out for splattering acid. 2) Add 1 gram of starch of starch to the mixture, stirring constantly with the glass rod. 3) Carefully add cold water to dilute the acids, then pour the mixture through the filter paper (see page 13). The residue consists of nitrostarch with a small amount of acid, and should be washed under cold distilled water. Picric Acid (C6H3N3O7) Picric acid, or 2,4,6-trinitrophenol is a sensitive compound that can be used as a booster charge for moderately insensitive explosives, such as T.N.T. It is seldom used for explosives anymore, but it still has applications in many industries, including leather production, copper etching, and textiles. Picric acid is usually shipped mixed with 20% water for safety, and when dried it forms pale yellow crystals. In small quantities picric acid deflagrates, but large crystals or moderate quantities of powdered picric acid will detonate with sufficient force to initiate high explosives (or remove the experimenter’s fingers). Picric acid, along with all of it’s salts, is very dangerous, and should never be stored dry or in a metal container. Contact with bare skin should be avoided, and ingestion is often fatal. Picric acid is fairly simple to make, assuming that one can acquire sulfuric and nitric acid in the required concentration. Simple procedures for it’s manufacture are given in many college chemistry lab manuals. The main problem with picric acid is its tendency to form dangerously sensitive and unstable picrate salts. While some of these salts, such as potassium picrate are stable enough to be useful, salts formed with other metals can be extremely unstable. For this reason, it is usually made into a safer form, such as ammonium picrate, also called explosive D. A procedure for the production of picric acid is given below. MATERIALS variable heat source ice bathdistilled water 38 ml concentrated nitric acid filter paper500 ml flaskfunnel concentrated sulfuric acid (12.5 ml) 1 L pyrex beaker10g phenolglass rod 1) Place 9.5 grams of phenol into the 500 ml flask, and carefully add 12.5 ml of concentrated sulfuric acid and stir the mixture. 2) Put 400 ml of tap water into the 1000 ml beaker or boiling container and bring the water to a gentle boil. 3) After warming the 500 ml flask under hot tap water, place it in the boiling water, and continue to stir the mixture of phenol and acid for about thirty minutes. After thirty minutes, take the flask out, and allow it to cool for seven minutes. 4) After allowing the flask to cool for 10 minutes. Place the 500 ml flask with the mixed acid an phenol in the ice bath. Add 38 ml of concentrated nitric acid in small amounts, stirring the mixture constantly. A vigorous reaction should occur. When the reaction slows, take the flask out of the ice bath. 5) Warm the ice bath container, if it is glass, and then begin boiling more tap water. Place the flask containing the mixture in the boiling water, and heat it in the boiling water for 1.5 to 2 hours. 6) Add 100 ml of cold distilled water to the solution, and chill it in an ice bath until it is cold. 7) Filter out the yellowish-white picric acid crystals by pouring the solution through the filter paper in the funnel. Collect the liquid and dispose of it in a safe place, since it is highly corrosive. 8) Wash out the 500 ml flask with distilled water, and put the contents of the filter paper in the flask. Add 300 ml of water, and shake vigorously. 9) Re-filter the crystals, and allow them to dry. 10) Store the crystals in a safe place in a glass container, since they will react with metal containers to produce picrates that could explode spontaneously. Ammonium Picrate (C6H2.ONH4.(NO2)3) Ammonium picrate, also called ammonium piconitrate, Explosive D, or carbazoate, is a common safety explosive which can be produced from picric acid. It requires a substantial shock to cause it to detonate, slightly less than that required to detonate ammonium nitrate. In many ways it is much safer than picric acid, since it does not have the tendency to form hazardous unstable salts when placed in metal containers. It is simple to make from picric acid and clear household ammonia. All that need be done is to dissolve picric acid crystals by placing them in a glass container and adding 15 parts hot, steaming distilled water. Add clear ammonia in excess, and allow the excess ammonia to evaporate. The powder remaining should be ammonium picrate. The water should not be heated, as ammonium picrate is sensitive to heat. Vacuum distillation and open evaporation are relatively safe ways to extract the picrate. Ammonium picrate most commonly appears as bright yellow crystals, and is soluble in water. These crystals should be treated with the care due to all shock sensitive materials. Some illegal salutes have been found to contain ammonium picrate, which makes them much more hazardous. Nitrogen Chloride (NCl3) Nitrogen chloride, also known as nitrogen trichloride, chlorine nitride, or Trichloride nitride, is a thick, oily yellow liquid. It explodes violently when it is heated to 93. C, exposed to bright light (sunlight), when brought into contact with organic substances, grease, ozone, and nitric oxide. Nitrogen chloride will evaporate if left in an open vessel, and will decompose within 24 hours. It has the interesting quality of exploding 13 seconds after being sealed in a glass container at 60. C . It can produce highly toxic byproducts, and should not be handled or stored. Because of the hazards of chlorine gas, if this procedure should never be carried out without an adequate source of ventilation. If a fume hood is not available the procedure should be done outside, away from buildings, small children, and pets. MATERIALS ammonium nitrate 2 pyrex beakersheat source glass pipe hydrochloric acid one hole stopperlarge flask fume hood potassium permanganate 1) In a beaker, dissolve 5 teaspoons of ammonium nitrate in water. If too much ammonium nitrate is added to the solution and some of it remains undissolved in the bottom of the beaker, the solution should be poured off into a fresh beaker. 2) Collect a quantity of chlorine gas in a second beaker by mixing hydrochloric acid with potassium permanganate in a large flask with a stopper and glass pipe. 3) Place the beaker containing the chlorine gas upside down on top of the beaker containing the ammonium nitrate solution, and tape the beakers together. Gently heat the bottom beaker. When this is done, oily yellow droplets will begin to form on the surface of the solution, and sink down to the bottom. At this time, remove the heat source immediately. 4) Collect the yellow droplets with an eyedropper, and use them as soon as possible. Alternately, the chlorine can be bubbled through the ammonium nitrate solution, rather than collecting the gas in a beaker, but this requires timing and a stand to hold the beaker and test tube. The chlorine gas can also be mixed with anhydrous ammonia gas, by gently heating a flask filled with clear household ammonia. Place the glass tubes from the chlorine-generating flask and the tube from the ammonia generating flask in another flask that contains water. Lead Azide Lead Azide is a material that is often used as a booster charge for other explosive, but it does well enough on its own as a fairly sensitive explosive. It does not detonate too easily by percussion or impact, but it is easily detonated by heat from an ignition wire, or a blasting cap. It is simple to produce, assuming that the necessary chemicals can be procured. By dissolving sodium azide and lead acetate in water in separate beakers, the two materials are put into an aqueous state. Mix the two beakers together, and apply a gentle heat. Add an excess of the lead acetate solution, until no reaction occurs, and the precipitate on the bottom of the beaker stops forming. Filter off the solution, and wash the precipitate in hot water. The precipitate is lead azide, and it must be stored wet for safety. If lead acetate cannot be found, simply acquire acetic acid, and put lead metal in it. Black powder bullets work well for this purpose. Lead azide can also be produced by substituting lead nitrate for the acetate. the reaction is given below: lead nitrate + sodium azide lead azide + sodium nitrate Pb(NO3)2 + 2NaN3 Pb(N3)2 + 2NaNO3 The result is the same precipitate of lead azide, leaving behind the sodium nitrate and traces of lead. The contaminated water should be disposed of in an environmentally safe manner. Other Reactions This section covers the other types of materials that can be used in pyrotechnic reactions. although none of the materials presented here are explosives, they are often as hazardous as explosives, and should be treated with due respect. Thermite Thermite is a fuel-oxidizer mixture that is used to generate tremendous amounts of heat. It was not presented earlier because it does not react nearly as readily as most mixtures. The most common form of thermite is a mixture of ferric oxide and aluminum, both coarsely powdered. When ignited, the aluminum burns by extracting oxygen from the ferric oxide. The thermite reaction is is really two very exothermic reactions that produce a combined temperature of about 2200. C. It is difficult to ignite, however, but once it is ignited, thermite is one of the most effective fire starters around. To produce thermite you will need one part powdered aluminum and three parts powdered iron oxide (ferric oxide or Fe2O3), measured by weight. There is no special procedure or equipment required to make thermite. Simply mix the two powders together. Take enough time to make the mixture as homogenous as possible. The ratio of iron oxide to aluminum isn’t very important, and if no weighing equiptment is available a 1/1 mixture by volume will work. If a small amount of finely powdered material is used as a starter, the bulk of the thermite mixture can be made up of larger sized material, in the same ratio. There are very few safety hazards in making thermite. The aluminum dust can form an explosive mixture in air, and inhaling powdered metals can be very bad for your health. It is important to take precautions to insure that the powdered metals are very dry, or the water vapor produced during the reaction will cause the thermite to spray droplets of molten steel in a large radius. Ignition of thermite can be accomplished by adding a small amount of potassium chlorate to a teaspoon of thermite, and pouring a few drops of sulfuric acid on it. This method and others are discussed on page 49. Another method of igniting thermite is with a magnesium strip. The important factor in igniting thermite is having a material that will produce concentrated heat in a very small region. For this reason, matches will not work, but sparklers and other aluminum based flares will. Molotov Cocktails One of the simplest incendiary devices invented, The Molotov cocktail is now employed in the defense of oppressed people worldwide. They range in complexity from the simple bottle and rag to complicated self-igniting firebombs, but in any form a molotov cocktail can produce devastating results. By taking any highly flammable material, such as gasoline, diesel fuel, kerosene, ethyl or methyl alcohol, lighter fluid, turpentine, or any mixture of the above, and putting it into a large glass bottle, anyone can make an effective firebomb. After putting the flammable liquid in the bottle, simply put a piece of cloth that is soaked in the liquid in the top of the bottle so that it fits tightly. Then, wrap some of the cloth around the neck and tie it, but be sure to leave a few inches of lose cloth to light. Light the exposed cloth, and throw the bottle. If the burning cloth does not go out, and if the bottle breaks on impact, the contents of the bottle will spatter over a large area near the site of impact, and burst into flame. Flammable mixtures such as kerosene and motor oil should be mixed with a more volatile and flammable liquid, such as gasoline, to insure ignition. A mixture such as tar or grease and gasoline will stick to the surface that it strikes, burn hotter and longer, and be more difficult to extinguish. A a bottle contain a mixture of different fuels must be shaken well before it is lit and thrown. Other interesting additives can include alcohol, acetone or other solvents, which will generally thin the contents and possibly increase the size of the fireball. By adding a gelling agent such as disk soap, polystyrene, or other material the flaming material can be made sticky enough that it will adhere to a vertical surface, such as a wall or the side of a vehicle. Chemical Fire Bottle The chemical fire bottle is really nothing more than an advanced molotov cocktail. Rather than using burning cloth to ignite the flammable liquid, which has at best a fair chance of igniting the liquid, the chemical fire bottle utilizes the very hot and violent reaction between sulfuric acid and potassium chlorate. When the container breaks, the sulfuric acid in the mixture of gasoline sprays onto the paper soaked in potassium chlorate and sugar. The paper, when struck by the acid, instantly bursts into a white flame, igniting the gasoline. The chance of failure to ignite the gasoline is very low, and can be reduced further if there is enough potassium chlorate and sugar to spare. MATERIALS potassium chlorate (2 teaspoons)12 bottle w/lined capplastic spoon gasoline (8 ounces) sugar (2 teaspoons) cooking pan baking soda (1 teaspoon) sulfuric acid ( 4 ounces)paper towels glass cup glass or teflon coated funnelrubber cement 1) Test the cap of the bottle with a few drops of sulfuric acid to make sure that the acid will not eat away the bottle cap during storage. If the acid eats through it, a new top must be found and tested, until a cap that the acid does not eat through is found. A glass top is excellent. 2) Carefully mix the gasoline with the sulfuric acid. This should be done in an open area and preferably from a distance. There is a chance that the sulfuric acid could react with an impurity in the gasoline, igniting it. 3) Using a glass funnel, slowly pour the mixture into the glass bottle. Wipe up any spills of acid on the sides of the bottle, and screw the cap on the bottle. Wash the outside with a solution of baking soda in cold water. Then carefully rinse the outside with plenty of cold water. Set it aside to dry. 4) Put about two teaspoons of potassium chlorate and about two teaspoons of sugar into the glass cup. Add about + cup of boiling water, or enough to dissolve all of the potassium chlorate and sugar. 5) Place a sheet of paper towel in the raised edge cooking pan. Fold the paper towel in half, and pour the solution of dissolved potassium chlorate and sugar on it until it is wet through, but not soaked. Allow the towel to dry. 6) When it is dry, put a line of cement about 1″ wide down the side of the glass bottle. Starting halfway across the line of cement, wrap the paper towel around the bottle, with the bottom edge of the towel lining up with the bottom edge of the bottle. Coat the inside of the remaining edge of the towel with cement before pressing it into place. Store the bottle in a place where it will not be broken or tipped over. 7) When finished, the solution in the bottle should appear as two distinct liquids, a dark brownish-red solution on the bottom, and a clear solution on top. The two solutions will not mix. To use the chemical fire bottle, simply throw it at any hard surface. 8) NEVER OPEN THE BOTTLE, SINCE SOME SULFURIC ACID MIGHT BE ON THE CAP, WHICH COULD TRICKLE DOWN THE SIDE OF THE BOTTLE AND IGNITE THE POTASSIUM CHLORATE, CAUSING A FIRE AND/OR EXPLOSION. 9) To test the device, tear a small piece of the paper towel off the bottle, and put a few drops of sulfuric acid on it. The paper towel should immediately burst into a white flame. If you intend to subsitute other flammable liquids for the gasoline, first make sure that they will not react with the sulfuric acid. This can be done by mixing a small amount in a bottle, then testing the Ph after several days have passed._ COMPRESSED GAS BOMBS Compressed gas bombs come in several forms, but all of them utilize the square pressure law- as the temperature of the gas increases, the pressure increases at a much higher rate. Eventually the pressure will exceed the rating of the container, and it will burst, releasing the gas. Bottled Gas Explosives Bottled gas, such as butane for refilling lighters, propane for propane stoves or for bunsen burners, can be used to produce a powerful explosion. To make such a device, all that a destructive person would have to do would be to take his container of bottled gas and place it above a can of Sterno or other gelatinized fuel, light the fuel and leave the area in a hurry. Depending on the amount of gas, the fuel used, and on the thickness of the fuel container, the liquid gas will boil and expand to the point of bursting the container in anywhere from a few seconds to five minutes or more. In theory, the gas would immediately be ignited by the burning gelatinized fuel, producing a large fireball and explosion. Unfortunately, the bursting of the bottled gas container often puts out the fuel, thus preventing the expanding gas from igniting. By using a metal bucket half filled with gasoline, however, the chances of ignition are better, since the gasoline is less likely to be extinguished. Placing a canister of bottled gas on a bed of burning charcoal soaked in gasoline would probably be the most effective way of securing ignition of the expanding gas, since although the bursting of the gas container may blow out the flame of the gasoline, the burning charcoal should immediately re-ignite it. Nitrous oxide, hydrogen, propane, acetylene, or any other flammable gas will do nicely. Another interesting use of compressed flammable gases is in the production of explosive mixtures of gases. By mixing a flammable gas with the appropriate amount of oxygen, a very loud explosive combustion can be achieved. The simplest form of gas device is based on the common oxygen- acetylene cutting torch. First the torch is lit and the mixture of gases is adjusted for a hot, bright flame. Next, the gas is diverted into some form of container. This can be a soft, expandable container, such as a child’s balloon or a rigid, inflexible container, such as a garbage can or metal pipe. It is much safer to use flexible containers that won’t produce (much) shrapnel, however if a rigid container is used, it can be used to lauch all sorts of interesting projectiles. A major danger in using mixed gases is the high chance of stray sparks igniting the gases. A few simple safety measures can help reduce this dangerous problem: 1) Always store the gases in seperate containers! This is the most important rule in working with flammable gases. Pressurizing oxygen with a flammable gas is askng for trouble, as under pressure the gases may react spontaneously, and compressing mixed gases greatly increases the chances of flashback. 2) Always work in the open. Flammable gases should never be used indoors. Large quantities of heavier or lighter than air gases could accumulate near the floor or ceiling. 3) Avoid static electricity. Static is less of a problem on humid days, and it can be reduced by wearing clothing made of natural fibers, removing all metal (such as jewelry, riveted clothes, etc) and wearing shoes with crepe soles. 4) Keep your distance. Gas explosions can be very powerful and unpredictable. A 55 gallon trash bag filled with the optimum mixture of oxygen and acetylene 100 feet away can blow out eardrums and crack brick walls. 6) Start out small. Work your way up from small plastic bags or children’s balloons. The best method for safe ignition is to mount a spark plug into a length of heavy steel pipe, and imbed this pipe 2-3 feet into the ground, with less than 2 feet above ground. If desired, a sealed (to prevent any sparks) switch can be wired across the wires to short the cable when you’re working at the site. Run heavy cable underground from the pipe to a ditch or bunker at a safe distance, and terminate the cable in a pair of large alligator clips, like the ones used on auto jumper cables. The outer edge of these jumpers and the last foot of wire should be painted bright red. Now drive a second pipe 2 feet into the ground, leaving 3-4 feet above ground. While working at the site, the shorting switch should be thrown and the two alligator clips attached to the top of the pipe at the bunker. Once the gas equiptment is set up, check to ensure that both clips are on the pipe, then turn off the shorting switch and retreat to the bunker. At the bunker, remove the clips from the pipe and take cover. The wires can now be attached to a high-voltage source. The spark plug will create a short electrical arc, igniting the gases. If the gas fails to ignite on the first try, wait a few seconds then power up the spark plug a second time. If this fails do not approach the site until all the gases have dispersed. With the use of buried gas piping and anti-flashback devices, safety can be greatly improved. The safest method is two have 2 bunkers equidistant from the site, with one unmanned bunker containing the gas cylinders and remotely controlled valves, and the second bunker containing the controls and personnel. During the recent gulf war, fuel/air bombs were touted as being second only to nuclear weapons in their devastating effects. These are basically similar to the above devices, except that an explosive charge is used to rupture the fuel container and disperse its contents over a wide area. a delayed second charge is used to ignite the fuel. The reaction is said to produce a massive shockwave and to burn all the oxygen in a large area, causing suffocation. Another benefit of fuel-air explosives is that the vaporized gas will seep into fortified bunkers or other partially-sealed spaces, so a large bomb placed in a building would result in the destruction of the majority of surrounding rooms. Dry Ice Bombs (Or: How to recycle empty soda bottles) Dry ice bombs have been discovered and rediscovered by many different people, and there is no sure way to know who first came up with the idea of putting dry ice (solid carbon dioxide) into an empty plastic soda bottle. There is no standard formula for a dry ice bomb, however a generic form is as follows: Take a 2-liter soda bottle, empty it completely, then add about 3/4 Lb of dry ice (crushed works best) and (optional) a quantity of water. twist cap on tightly, and get as far away from it as possible. Depending on the condition of the bottle, the weather, and the amount and temperature of the water added, the bottle may go off anywhere from 30 seconds to 5 minutes from when it was capped. Without any water added, the 2-liter bottles generally take from 3 to 7 minutes if dropped into a warm river, and 45 minutes to 1+ hours in open air. It is possible for the bottle to reach an extreme pressure without reaching the bursting point, in which case any contact with the bottle would cause it to explode. This effect has resulted in several injuries, and is difficult to reliably reproduce. The explosion sounds equivalent to an M-100, and usually results in the bottle breaking into several large, sharp pieces of frozen plastic, with the most dangerous projectile being the top section with the screw-on cap. Plastic 16 oz. soda bottles and 1 liter bottles work almost as well as do the 2-liters, however glass bottles aren’t nearly as loud, and can produce dangerous shrapnel. Remember, these are LOUD! Dorian, a classmate of mine, set up 10 bottles in a nearby park without adding water. After the first two went off (there was about 10 minutes between explosions) the Police arrived and spent the next hour trying to find the guy who they thought was setting off M-100’s all around them… Using anything other than plastic to contain dry ice bombs is suicidal. Even plastic 2-liter bottles can produce some nasty shrapnel: One source tells me that he caused an explosion with a 2-liter bottle that destroyed a metal garbage can. Because of the freezing temperatures, the plastic can become very hard and brittle, and when the bottle ruptures it may spray shards of sharp, frozen plastic. While plastic bottles can be dangerous, glass bottles may be deadly. It is rumored that several kids have been killed by shards of glass resulting from the use of a glass bottle. For some reason, dry ice bombs have become very popular in the state of Utah. As a result, dry ice bombs have been classified as infernal devices, and in utah possession of a completed bomb is a criminal offense. Most other states do not have specific laws on the books outlawing these devices. There are several generic offenses which you could be charged with, including disturbing the peace, reckless endangerment, destruction of property, and construction of a nefarious device. It is interesting to note that dry ice bombs are not really pyrotechnic devices. As the carbon dioxide sublimes into it’s gaseous state, the pressure inside the bottle increases. When the bottle ruptures, the gas is released. This sudden release of pressure causes the temperature of the gases to drop. It is noticed that right after detonation, a cloud of white vapor appears. This may be the water vapor in the surrounding air suddenly condensing when it contacts the freezing cold gas. Almost any reaction that produces large amounts of gas from a much smaller volume can be used. One common variation is the use of Drano* crystals and shredded aluminum foil. When water is added the Drano, which is mainly lye (an extremely caustic substance), dissolves in the water and reacts with the aluminum, producing heat and hydrogen gas. If the heat doesn’t melt the bottle the pressure will eventually cause it to rupture, spraying caustic liquid and releasing a large quantity of (flammable) hydrogen gas, as well as some water vapor. Another interesting reaction is adding managanese dioxide to hydrogen peroxide. The manganese dioxide is a catalyst that allows the hydrogen peroxide to release the extra oxygen atom, yielding free oxygen and water: 2H2O2 + MgO2 2H2O +O2 + MgO2 It may be possible to combine the drain opener reaction with the hydrogen peroxide reaction, yielding heat, oxygen, and hydrogen. When mixed in the proper proportion these three components can yield a very powerful explosion from the violently exothermic reaction of the hydrogen and oxygen. Preliminary experiments have shown that the drain opener reaction tends to proceed much more quickly than the peroxide reaction, and it often produces enough excess heat to cause the bottle to rupture prematurely. Another possible reaction is pool chlorine tablets (usually calcium hypochlorite) and household ammonia. This reaction produces poisonous chlorine gas. Baking soda and vinegar have been tried, but the reaction seems to become inhibited by the rising pressure. There are also many variations possible when using dry ice. If a bottle that is not dissolved by acetone (such as most 2-L soda bottles) is used, the curshed dry ice can be mixed with acetone. This will greatly speed up the reaction, since unlike water, acetone remains a liquid at very low temperatures. One hazard (bene