Talk:Explosive material

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Categories overlap[edit]

The categories given appear to overlap and be redundant: eg. High/low explosives and primary/secondary explosives. Can anyone clarify this?

Clarified. Primary/secondary is correctly a classification by sensitivity, high/low is not, but rather by mode of explosion. -- Roger 00:00 23 Oct 2003 (UTC)

tetryl listed as secondary explosive?[edit]

?? AFAIK tetryl is (was) used as a detonator -> primary explosive

more on tetryl[edit]

oops, commented too quickly - tetryl is listed under *both* [correctly] under primary explosives (linked to tetryl entry) and [incorrectly, I think] under secondary explosives

Rmhermen, I removed your addition of picric acid from the primary explosives section, because I don't believe it is correct. You will notice that it was already under the secondary explosives section (but not wikified,, which I have now done). Picric acid was one of the first explosives to be sufficiently insenstive to be used as a filling in armour piercing shells, so it's obviously not all that sensitive!! I am also rather skeptical of tetryl being under primaries; it is used commercially as a booster charge, which makes it a fairly sensitive secondary. It is not used as a detonator, but is often included as a boosting charge in detonators, on top of the actual primary. Securiger 22:56, 7 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Hmmm... "Man sues for $10 million over exploding toilet"[edit]

53-year-old claims he was severely burned in methane blast

The Associated Press Updated: 5:37 p.m. ET June 3, 2005

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - A man who says he was severely burned when a portable toilet exploded after he sat down and lit a cigarette is suing a general contractor and a coal company, accusing them of negligence.

Worthwhile adding here? - Ta bu shi da yu 06:29, 5 Jun 2005 (UTC)

The stupid man must have been farting. That releases Methane gas, which, of course, will explode in ur face. If u light a cigarette, then ur asking for an explosion. I can assure u that a toilet, with so much water and so little design, will not explode.

Include Phlegmatized ?[edit]

I've created an article for Phlegmatized but I'm no expert. Does someone want ammend this article to include a link to Phlegmatized and perhaps flesh out the Phlegmatized article.

Megapixie 02:53, 21 July 2005 (UTC)


To me it seems that the reaction information and the military information should be on seperate pages and the first title shouldn't be "chemical explosives" because it is implied by explosive materials; all material explosions are chemical.


I'm former EOD. My comments are dead-on accurate. Reverted.

My dear mugaliens, then I needn't point out that there are scores and scores of different plasticizers used in various explosives, and that the particular phthalate you mentioned is only one of them, and it's so little used that it doesn't even have its own Wikiarticle. Accurate? You listed it under monomolecular explosives. It is not an explosive, it is an additive that is used to modify the physical properties of actual explosives.--BillFlis 23:49, 7 August 2006 (UTC)
"Di-n-butyl phthalate" is an inert, gelatinizing agent used in propellant manufacture to improve physical and processing characteristics, including decreasing the propellant ignitability ( Meanwhile, "Di-n-octyl phthalate" (also known as DnOP, or C24H38O4), is commonly used in HE today because numerous studies have shown that phthalates are "highly biodegradable under both aerobic and anerobic conditions" ( Both are in the family of Nonhalogenated Semi-Volatile Organic Compounds/Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons. DoPN is a key ingredient in both SEMTEX A and H ( Yes, it's a plasticizer. I'm sorry I didn't make that clear. However, I never said DnOP was the explosive. I said it was "an ingredient used in high explosives," aka, a "plasticizer." Thus, I created a Plasticizer section below and added DoNP, complete with references in the references section. Please feel free to add additional plasticizers your invaluable experience consideres worthwhile. Mugaliens 17:14, 9 August 2006 (UTC)

Liquid explosives[edit]

Could someone create a separate section on Liquid explosives, particularly the differences in chemical properties from typical solid explosives or the engineering difficulties in creating them? It seems very relevant all of a sudden. --M@rēino 21:43, 11 August 2006 (UTC)

Sure. What have you got to contribute? I'm sure it would be fine, as long as you have your usual array of references.--BillFlis 00:26, 12 August 2006 (UTC)
Me? Very little. Chemistry's not my field. But I will copyedit any submissions. :) --M@rēino 18:15, 12 August 2006 (UTC)
I got an 800 in chemistry, but I'm not going to teach you how to make a bomb. How do I know you're not some dumb kid who would blow his house up?--BillFlis 01:05, 13 August 2006 (UTC)
  • You have absolutely know way of knowing that -- but I'm not asking for that. Such information is unencyclopedic: you shouldn't be posting how to build a bomb -- or any sort of how-to -- on Wikipedia. Wikipedia is not But this article could use good information explaining why liquid explosives are different from solid explosives, and what the preferred application for each would be. --M@rēino 02:23, 13 August 2006 (UTC)

Info about liquid explosives on BBC-News (though some of the statements in this article appear terribly uninformed.) 04:54, 12 August 2006 (UTC)

Composition of the material[edit]

I'm having difficulty understanding why this is broken into two sections, "Mixtures of an oxidizer and a fuel" and "Chemically pure compounds." By definition, an explosive is a mixture of a fuel and an oxidizer. Whether that oxidizer is actually Oxygen or not is immaterial, as many elements and chemical compounds act as oxidizers. For example, hydrogen gas is not considered an explosive by itself. A mixture of hydrogen gas and oxygen, however, is considered an explosive. Why the distinction? The better definition is "any substance which can be detonated and in which the burn rate through the substance exceeds the speed of sound through the substance." Mugaliens 13:59, 12 August 2006 (UTC)

I don't know where you found that definition of an explosive, but the materials listed under chemically pure (monomolecular) compounds can each detonate without any air or other oxidizer. In the process, the atoms of the original molecule rearrange themselves into new compounds (generally gases), with a release of a substantial amount of energy. The hot gases want to occupy a much larger volume than the original solid or liquid, thus the explosion. In practice, such explosives are seldom used in a pure state (mainly for safety reasons), but the other chemicals that are introduced (such as binders and plasticizers) generally do not contribute much (if at all) to the chemistry of the explosion.BillFlis 16:07, 12 August 2006 (UTC)

If you look closer, you find exotics like exploding antimony and xenon trioxide. The former detonates by a conformal change, and the latter by reduction(!) into free xenon and oxygen. So the separation into fuel/oxidizer explosives and chemical compounds is reasonable when viewed from both the fabrication and energetic standpoints. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:14, 21 November 2012 (UTC)

Balancing chemical explosion equations - Error??[edit]

Think the calculation for TNT may contain an error here, the rules set out in the table conform to the KISTIAKOWSKY – WILSON RULES however these are only relevant for those molecules with an oxygen balance of greater than -40%, the modified K-W rules (for those of less than -40% oxygen balance) have hydrogen becoming oxidised first, followed by CO and then CO2 if enough. I think the correct formula should be 3.5 CO + 3.5 C + 2.5 H2O + 1.5 N2. Paulerob 10:41, 4 May 2007 (UTC)

18:52, 17 March 2011 (UTC)PROIFMAD18:52, 17 March 2011 (UTC)~

Just looking to see if someone had acknowledged this. It also saves me doing the math, to show its validity. The measured & assumed energy of TNT is 4.2 MJ/Kg. The equation you give, calculates to this value, essentially, re-inforcing the theory you put forward on oxygen balance.

Also the article equation doesn't apply the rule of greater than three mol of any one product, on final balance.

I second the above as being a more correct theoretical decomposition, giving a more correct energetic value for TNT

18:52, 17 March 2011 (UTC)PROFMAD18:52, 17 March 2011 (UTC)~ — Preceding unsigned comment added by Profmad (talkcontribs)

The energetic yield of TNT is, by definition, 1Cal/g, or 4.2kJ/g. This was done in order to simplify comparisons with other energetic events, like nuclear blasts. The actual energetic yield (which varies with morphology, temperature, initiation energy, etc.) can vary from ~0.9Cal/g to ~1.1Cal/g. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:08, 21 November 2012 (UTC)

Explode with oxygen?[edit]

im not sure where i heard this, but arent there compounds that explode upon contact with normal air? or am i thinking ignite?Ω: Rendered Null and Void 20:43, 25 October 2007 (UTC)

you mean Pyrophoricity. It does not have to be (pure) oxygen.Pyrotec 21:00, 25 October 2007 (UTC)
umm according to the page, its not that it reacts with standard air. by standard i mean what you are breathing right now. unless ur in a lab or a clean room or something. im thinking of airtight chamber, open the seal, maybe wait a few seconds, then BOOM! also, if possible, wether or not it can by freely made by combining 2 or more stable chemicals. purpose is ejection from stopped high-speed cartridge, think gun barrel, to react in midair, then detonate upon reaction completion.Ω: Rendered Null and Void 22:25, 25 October 2007 (UTC)


this reaction obviously doesn't work anywhere near ambient temperature, so if anyone can find a more realistic example it would be nice :) --Sgt. Salt (talk) 11:45, 5 January 2008 (UTC)


Is naphthalene a chemical explosive? It differs from website to website. Could an expert confirm or correct this? Or can it be explosive with additives? On brainiac episode 1 series 4, it states that naphthalene is "a very volitile material". It created a very powerful explosion. However, I cant seem to find naphthalene classed as an explosive on any websites. This video suggests it is explosive however, very little information is given on what is actually happening and what is used. Any help would be appriciated.

I have copied in a large chuk of relevant text from a U.S. navy public domain resource document, namely

  • Fundamentals of Naval Weapons Systems, Chapter 12, by the Weapons and Systems Engineering Deptartment of the United States Naval Academy

It needs extensive editing and wikification.

Braniac fake 99% of their results and are extremely unreliable. There was one episode where they took about 1.5 liters of a yellow liquid that they said was Nitroglycerine (NG isn't yellow) and put it in a washing machine and after about 5 seconds of spinning the door fell off and a small fireball and a black puff of smoke came out which was obviously faked not to mention that they could never legaly get that much nitro. Back to your question Napthalene is a hydrocarbon and so is fairly flammable but in no way explosive on its own. If one were to add a powerful oxidiser such as potassium perchlorate it could become a fairly energetic deflagrative but probably not an explosive unless it were well confined. Incredibleman007 (talk) 16:23, 15 July 2008 (UTC)

A thought[edit]

Hey all. I'm not an expert on explosives so I don't know exactly how this works, but there doesn't seem to be anything on this page that explains what meters per second means in this context. Is it the rate at which the material is consumed? Is it the speed of the shockwave that comes from the material? Or what? Either adding this or linking to a page that discusses this would probably be helpful.

Dragon guy (talk) 18:39, 18 December 2008 (UTC)

It is context specific. For low explosives it can be regarded as a linear (not a volume) burning rate - there is no shock wave, as such. Think of a cigarette lite at one end and the reduction in length of the cigarette with time. This is not so true of high explosives, it represents the speed of the shockwave.Pyrotec (talk) 17:38, 19 December 2008 (UTC)


Explosives production is'nt well documented. Also, could Synthetic_biology (synthetic bacteria) be mentioned as a explosive production method. I"m quite sure simple explosives can be made this way (eg methane, ammonium nitrate, ...) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:21, 8 June 2009 (UTC)

Separate Article[edit]

This article is WAY to big and needs to be ... exploded. Shipping Labels? come on. That goes in its own article. How about grouping the properties of explosives (power, sensitivity, stability) as subheadings under the heading Properties. Somebody please detonate this article! 04:14, 9 November 2009 (UTC)

I agree. Either this is a "gateway aricle" (entitled something like "Explosives") or a detailed introduction to "chemical explosives" (entitled something like "Chemical Explosives". The "gateway" article can certainly introduce nuclear, chemical and other kinds of explosive systems (there are other non-chemical approaches). So I propose restructuring into two or more linked articles. Codwiki (talk) 17:12, 30 December 2009 (UTC)

No liquid bombs?[edit]

Liquid bombs currently redirects here, yet the article makes no mention of what this is. Spectators to the London Olympics will not be allowed to bring with them beverage containers containing more than 100ml of liquid citing exactly liquid bombs, yet people coming to Wikipedia to find out what these are will leave frustrated. __meco (talk) 20:49, 10 May 2012 (UTC)

Wacky conjecture about reaction between ammonium nitrate and water......[edit]

From the section on hygroscopicity:

...Explosives based on ammonium nitrate have little or no water resistance due to the reaction between ammonium nitrate and water, which liberates ammonia, nitrogen dioxide and hydrogen peroxide....

No reference is provided (and no reliable reference will be found)supporting this claim. Instant cold packs rely on the dissolution of ammonium nitrate in gas is liberated. Solubility tables are available for ammonium nitrate in water at various temperatures...this would not be the case if ammonium nitrate reacted with water anywhere near STP.

Will someone please remove this misinformation? (talk) 08:53, 8 October 2012 (UTC)

Low explosives flamefront propagation[edit]

"low explosives undergo deflagration at rates that vary from a few centimeters per second to approximately 400 metres per second"

The speed of sound at sea level is approximately 340m/s so surely, given the definition of low explosives, this means that 400m/s propagation rates would mean that the substance is a high explosive. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:25, 1 November 2012 (UTC)

trinitrotoluene and world war II[edit]

It's always been my understanding that trinitrotoluene was one of the most common explosives of World War II. Yet this article states it replaced explosives used in that war. Note, I don't contend it was the most common propellant charge (smokeless powder was the standard for small arms propellants, and sketchy as my knowledge is on artillery, I assume smokeless powder was in that case, also-- any lanyard yanker is welcome to correct me). But as a "terminal" blast charge... in grenades, aerial bombs, artillery shells, demolition charges... I'm feeling pretty confident that it was the ubiquitous standard, if not throughout the war, certainly through much of it. Can someone more knowledgeable of editing wikipedia undertake this correction? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:52, 22 February 2013 (UTC)

Heat Sensitivity[edit]

As currently displayed, it seems to me that it is ambiguous as to whether the sensitivity is due to temperature, or to heat flux. Fortran (talk) 05:19, 16 April 2013 (UTC)

Volume of products of explosion[edit]

I question the appropriateness of subject section to this article. While the concepts are correct, the emphasis on ideal conditions should be replaced by discussion of the non-ideality of transient conditions experienced during the dynamic process of an explosive chemical reaction. In the absence of objections, I intend to rewrite the paragraph accordingly while adding necessary in-line reference citations.Thewellman (talk) 23:29, 18 April 2013 (UTC)

Proposed substitute language:
The most widely used explosives are condensed liquids or solids converted to gaseous products by explosive chemical reactions and the energy released by those reactions. The gaseous products of complete reaction are typically carbon dioxide, steam, and nitrogen.[1] Gaseous volumes computed by the ideal gas law tend to be too large at high pressures characteristic of explosions.[2] Ultimate volume expansion may be estimated at three orders of magnitude, or one liter per gram of explosive. Explosives with an oxygen deficit will generate soot or gases like carbon monoxide and hydrogen, which may react with surrounding materials such as atmospheric oxygen.[1] Attempts to obtain more precise volume estimates must consider the possibility of such side reactions, condensation of steam, and aqueous solubility of gases like carbon dioxide.[3]
  1. ^ a b Zel'dovich, Yakov; Kompaneets, A.S. (1960). Theory of Detonation. Academic Press. pp. 208–210. 
  2. ^ Hougen, Olaf A.; Watson, Kenneth; Ragatz, Roland (1954). Chemical Process Principles. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 66–67. 
  3. ^ Anderson, H.V. (1955). Chemical Calculations. McGraw-Hill. p. 206. 
Thewellman (talk) 06:20, 20 April 2013 (UTC)
Yes, OK. I'd be happy with this new replacement paragraph. Pyrotec (talk) 18:38, 2 May 2013 (UTC)
Done.Thewellman (talk) 22:40, 5 May 2013 (UTC)

High vs Low Explosives (Classification by Velocity)[edit]

This section needs attention by an expert; right now the material seems largely self-contradictory, such as these sequential sentences as of this post: "High explosives are explosive materials that detonate, meaning that the explosive shock front passes through the material at a supersonic speed." and "High explosives detonate with explosive velocity ranging from 3 to 9 km/s."; since the definition of supersonic is dependent on an array of contextual variables, including temperature, the two sentences can't both be true at once - in some cases 2.5 km/s will be supersonic, and in some cases, 9.5 km/s will not be. It also contradicts other Wikipedia articles and other references; for example, both Wikipedia and several dictionaries define deflagration as subsonic combustion, meaning that the term is simply not defined for non-combustive "explosives" that meet the given definition of "low", such as a compressed gas canister under the right conditions, even though the section right now asserts that all low explosives deflagrate. If these terms have contextually different definitions, that needs to be put in the article somewhere. (talk) 01:04, 19 December 2013 (UTC)

There aren't a lot of low-velocity high explosives; the detonations stop propagating...
Compressed gas cylinders may explode, but they aren't an explosive material. A pressure explosion - pressurized gas, a boiler letting go, etc. - may resemble the deflagration of a low explosive but isn't.
I will take a look at the article a bit later. Georgewilliamherbert (talk) 05:23, 20 December 2013 (UTC)

Black powder smoke.[edit]

" the first widely used explosive in warfare and mining was black powder, invented in 9th century China (see the history of gunpowder). This material was sensitive to water, and envolved lots of dark smoke."

I thought black powder made WHITE smoke? I know that's what it looks like when fired from a muzzleloader..45Colt 18:47, 21 March 2014 (UTC) (PS, it's "INvolved", not "ENvolved".)

Article title[edit]

Now I'm not suggesting renaming the article or anything along those lines, but why is this article located here rather than at Explosive? Thanks to anyone who offers an adequate response. Dustin (talk) 05:29, 10 July 2015 (UTC)

Commercial Applications[edit]

Why is there little mention of the industrial use of explosives in mines and quarries? Yes, military applications are the most widely known, but 6.3 billion pounds of industrial explosives were produced in 2007. My only guess is a lack of up-to-date or citeable information. I'll see what I can do, but help would be appreciated in patching this enormous oversight. Somedaypilot (talk) 21:25, 21 September 2009 (UTC)

It's only a Start-class article - not everything is in it and its is poorly referenced.
It might be better to create a separate article on this topic. The earliest explosives for this application would have been Gunpowder, then nitrated materials such as Dynamite & TNT; then specialist explosives for use in coal mines; and modern materials, such as slurry explosive. We already have articles on Gunpowder, History of gunpowder, etc. It might be better to create a standalone article and then link it into this article by means of a {Main} and then provide a summary. Pyrotec (talk) 21:38, 21 September 2009 (UTC)


I would have to agree. There really actually needs to be an article dvoted to the hisoty of explosives. If that can't happen, there needs to be a subheading in this existing article on the history.

Also, is this meant respectively, or non-respectively? I'm not sure.

"When wood or coal is burned in the atmosphere, the carbon and hydrogen in the fuel combine with the oxygen in the atmosphere to form carbon dioxide and steam (water), together with flame and smoke." —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 05:54:19, August 19, 2007 (UTC)

I agree. There really should be a "history of explosives" section or article. I know gunpowder was the first explosive, but what was 2nd and third? Which were important explosives? Who developed them? All this sort of information! -OOPSIE- (talk) 00:41, 2 April 2009 (UTC)

How do you know gunpowder was first? I think it is likely that it was the first that was deliberately manufactured, I doubt it was the first observed. As recently observed in Russia, meteors can explode. I suspect that was the first observed type of explosion. I suspect some kind of dust explosion might have been observed before gunpowder was manufactured. Having lightning strike a tree, is often reported as resulting in an explosion. Gunpowder is 2 oxidizing agents and a fuel. How does some ancient experimenter decide on a tertiary compound? I suspect something must have come before gunpowder that was binary. Charcoal and what? And was charcoal chosen as the fuel, because when lightning strikes a tree it leaves behind carbonized surfaces? Someone observed an effect from a binary compound, and it was either too puny, or unreliable. And the pursuit of either more energy being released, or reliability led them to a ternary compound. At some point, someone recognized the fuel/oxidizer makeup, and a directed search among known compounds could start. Which begat the second, third, ... recognized explosives. Proof? None. It just seems like a reasonable explanation, knowing a lot of chemistry, physics, and inventing. It isn't possible to write a real history, we don't know what happened when. We can hypothesize what might have happened. Fortran (talk) 04:16, 16 April 2013 (UTC)

What about the HISTORY of explosives?[edit]

Hey guys been thinkin bout yall :) -Q — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:21, 18 March 2016 (UTC)

how long has explosive material been around; for what reasons ext. User:IP unknown.

agree, it needs to be expanded. I added online links to some very old historical books in the Explosive_material#Further_reading section. • SbmeirowTalk • 05:41, 10 October 2015 (UTC)