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Thermite Reaction Throwing Dangerous Amounts of UltraViolet EMR[edit]

I am surprised not to see this hazard mentioned in the main article. Another person has mentioned this in the discussion; the thermite reaction is so violent that you get higher frequency (higher energy) UV coming off of it, which is very bad for the eyes, either short term (retinal damage) or longer term (cataracts, etc).

To give you some idea of the energy involved, at my last demonstration of thermite I surrounded the alum/iron mix with four 2 foot square boards wrapped in aluminum foil, shiny side out, forming (in effect) a reflective box with the top open, so that if a kid did not follow my directions and looked at the reaction, there was an extra margin of safety. After the reaction ran, I examined the four boards. The aluminum foil had been completely vaporized off the boards and the boards were charred. I guess aluminum foil isn't that reflective at those frequencies...

Could we at minimum say something like "There are concerns about the reactions givings off ultra-violet light and the reaction should not be wached directly"? Better safe than sorry ...

I thought about it a long time, checked my sources to be certain, then added one sentence that thermite throws dangerous UV and should not be viewed directly unless you're wearing protection such as welding goggles.


     David Small (
 —Preceding unsigned comment added by Davidmsmall (talkcontribs) 16:41, August 27, 2007 (UTC) 
100% agree. Also the hazard involving molten iron and molten iron sparks flying around may be worth mentioning, but I can't find any solid reference for the high radiation at the moment. Your tinfoil experiment is very interesting indeed, do you think that the tinfoil was vaporized by the heat (kinda melted-off) or due to a high radiation exposure?? IEEE 16:42, 30 August 2007 (UTC)
Got a source on the emission spectra of common Fe/Al thermite, is it just due to blackbody radiation?

MutantGarage (talk) 07:09, 19 February 2009 (UTC)MutantGarage

I removed the mention of UV since there is nothing about it in the literature, and the emission spectrum is black body as far as I can tell... It might be dangerously bright, but I don't think it is bright in the UV region. See the paper "Temperature measurements of Al containing nano-thermite reactions using multi-wavelength pyrometry", figure 3. It's for Al/CuO but it's the closest I could find. There is virtually no emission below 400 nm. (talk) 19:47, 26 October 2011 (UTC)

Making Thermite - reaction equation[edit]

A reaction equation should be included. Also, it should be more clear that this is not a burning reaction, in the sense tht it doesn't use molecular oxygen. Sikkema 23:42, 20 May 2007 (UTC)

Making Thermite[edit]

I fail to see why "How to make thermite" is relevant to this article. It seems to be encouraging individuals to make some for themselves. Without a strong disclaimer, how can this be permitted?

But how else will stupid kids learn how to badly burn or kill themselves ? Incredibleman007 (talk) 16:50, 15 July 2008 (UTC)

Stating the temperature of a thermite reaction is scientifically incorrect[edit]

Technically a reaction releases energy, which in turn can be used to change the state of the reactants. To say that a reaction has a certain "temperature" is misleading: the actual temperature depends on the ambient temperature, rate of heat loss, etc. Nonetheless, it is nice to put in some numbers for average conditions so Mr.Layperson gets a feel for how powerful this reaction is without doing any math.

~Not only is this temperature statement misleading, but the way it is used within the article is on the matter of igniting thermite with a magnesium strip by way of the flash burn point. The problem here is it is listing the temperature at 2500K (4000F) and the flash burn point of magnesium is 8000 degree Fahrenheit.~

Energy Source?[edit]

3347.6 kJ/mol ? Wow, that is one enormous heat and energy yield. A noob's question then: Is it possible to use this as an alternative energy source? I could imagine steam producing facility with some kind of "reactor" where this reaction takes place. The ingredients may be not so cheap 1:3 (aluminum:iron oxide), but we need only a little to create a huge energy output. Iron is quite abundant overhere compared to say for example crude oil. So then, why not burn metals instead of fossil fuels? Also the reaction is gasless so no pollution takes place and the product is a pure molten iron, that can be used to produce steam (to propell our turbine) and then the pure iron ingot is a welcomed addition to our world. IEEE 23:38, 30 August 2007 (UTC)

For the process to work, you would need to have a constant supply of Iron Oxide and Aluminum Metal, and deal with your waste Iron and Aluminum Oxide. Obviously you would use your waste to create more fuel. The iron to iron oxide process works pretty much on it's own, rust. There are many ways to return Aluminum Oxide into Aluminum metal, but, the most realistic is electrolysis, which uses a graphite and electricity to take the oxygen from the aluminum oxide. Since the aluminum oxide is already in molten state, the power requirements are much lower. It does however produce carbon dioxide. The bottom line is that I don't have the chemistry background to tell how much power is required for the electrolysis compared to the electricity generated from heat. The overall process takes graphite + aluminum oxide + electricity and produces carbon dioxide, oxygen and aluminum. It's being discussed on quara now. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:41, 2 October 2016 (UTC)

Because the metals are naturaly found oxidised and to reduce Aliminium and then re-oxidise it would use a LOT more energy than the output. Also you would need a lot of thermite and how would you clean the crap out of the reactor ? Incredibleman007 (talk) 16:56, 15 July 2008 (UTC)

Thermite IS useful as a termporary energy source. It is used to blow bolts and perform other useful activities. - Drew — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:10, 6 September 2014 (UTC)

This is similar in concept to the black powder engine idea that was thrown around in the 1800s. Many people tried but no practical designs were ever realized. Thermite of course has the added issue of leaving solid waste behind where black powder does not. The massive power output (notice I did not say energy,the total energy output is not unique compared with what we can get from other chemical reactions) is not really as much of an advantage as you might think. Consider a battery. It contains two electrodes. For example,one might contain Zinc metal and the other might contain manganse IV Oxide.(MnO2). The manganese is in a state where it has lost four electrons vs the neutral,metallic form of manganese. Manganese IV Oxide has two oxygens per manganese. (each oxygen atom is in a -2 oxidation state,having two extra electrons vs the free oxygen in the air. Manganese takes grabs an electron from something and becomes Manganese III Oxide. (Mn2O3) (while it may look like it "gained an O2" there are now two manganese per three oxygen,so its really lost a half an oxygen per manganese. Zinc loses two electrons in this reaction and becomes Zinc II Oxide. There is one oxygen per zinc. Notice how it all works out,zinc gives up two electrons,that reduce two manganese atoms,which together now need only three oxygen,and the fourth one ends up with the zinc.

Notice overall the thermite reaction is the same sort of thing. Iron II Oxide or Iron III oxide are reduced to iron metal,and metallic aluminum is oxidized to aluminum oxide (alumina) why does the battery not melt down? Becuase the reactants are separated. If you mixed Manganese Oxide with Zinc metal it might do the same thing. It might not even wait to be lit. But in the battery the two halves of the reaction are separated in a specific way.Ions can travel through an electrolyte to get to the other electrode but electrons cannot,but instead can only travel through a wire external to the battery. So to proceed,a current must flow through that wire.

In fact,if you set it up right,you could probably make a aluminum iron battery,although it might not be practical,it should work. So rather than a "engine" using the heat from these sorts of materials, they are typically used to make batteries.
REmember exploding lithium ion batteries? If you dont keep things separated,the reaction just goes,liberating a ton of heat,and boom.  — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:15, 13 June 2015 (UTC) claims that it is thermit (without final e)[edit]

I spell checked the article of aluminium and the word thermite was non existing. To find out whether it was correctly spelled I looked it up at . This is the info gives:


A trademark used for a welding and incendiary mixture of fine aluminum powder with a metallic oxide, usually iron, that when ignited yields an intense heat."

So nothing about thermit as a name for certain chemical reactions, just that a brand name of such an chemical mixture is "thermit", without final e. Is wrong or Wikipedia? Or is the brand name "thermit" and the name of the chemical reactions "thermite"? If you'd find out that is wrong please leave a note saying so on this talk page. Tx in advance for looking this up. --Paulus/laudaka (add me to your YIM/AIM/ICQ/M$N M contact list if you like!) Laudaka's talk page 21:30, 12 May 2004 (UTC)

Merriam-Webster Online lists a substance called 'thermite' and a trademark called 'Thermit'. Issue resolved? --Smack 21:07, 20 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Thermite/Thermit discussion[edit]

"Or is the brand name "thermit" and the name of the chemical reactions "thermite""

Yes, the brand name is 'thermit' and the reaction is a 'thermite' reaction. --Anon.

Other Thermites[edit]

Is this a forum sorta thing? i am not sure... someone correct me please... well my question is could one make a thermit mix from aluminium and some other howabout copper oxychloride?

Yes, a thermite reaction is simply a reaction involving a reactive metal and the oxide of a less reactive metal. Basically you can use any reactive metal, and any less reactive metal compound containing oxygen. Aluminum and rust are simply the most used, since they are more readily available.
And as I understand it, they release quite a bit of energy. I hear that copper/aluminum thermites are used in armor-piercing missiles though, so perhaps they have a greater ionization energy (is that the right phrase?). --Maru (talk) Contribs 23:15, 26 October 2005 (UTC)
Yes, cupric oxide/aluminum thermites typically attain a temperature that is above the boiling point of copper, which results in a gaseous product and an explosion. For this reason, such thermites with low boiling point metals involved are used less. Other mixes that will explode include ones that use zinc as the reducing agent or lead oxide (Pb3O4 or PbO) as the oxidizer. These mixtures also have high enthalpies of reaction.
Ionization energy isn't really relevant to this though, since Ionization energy is just the energy required to pull an electron off of an atom (or ionizing it) and there is no ionization in this reaction, it just produces an extreme amount of heat during the reaction. Helgers7 06:35, 17 March 2007 (UTC)

Thermite Process (Ames Process)[edit]

So is the thermite process just the function of using thermite? Or, as I think, something different (but involving aluminium...)? This is not clear from the article, but the redirect from Thermite process is indicative that it might be. the Thermit reaction can also be preformed with Magnesium powder other than aluminium, although aluminium is a lot less expensive, magnesium allows lower ignition temperatures and a more violent reaction.

Making Thermite[edit]

Should there be a section included on making thermite? I've performed small reactions myself, and they've always been very exciting to do. If the correct measures are taken, it's a very safe procedure because the material won't explode under normal conditions and it is nearly impossible to accidently ignite it. Further more, powdered iron oxide and aluminum are easily and legally obtained from online retailers like ebay. --Daveswagon 00:36, 17 Jun 2005 (UTC)

The article already mentions the weight percentages for mixing thermite from powders, but that information could be moved to a ==Production== section or something like that. As far as making the raw ingredients yourself (with household items), I tried and failed, but it may be possible. I would tend to leave out any instructions about getting rust from nails/rulers/etc unless someone has first hand experience and it does in fact work. --SCEhardt 04:11, 17 Jun 2005 (UTC)
I'd just like to point out thermite does indeed have quite a few dangers. True, there is basically no chance at all of it igniting unintentionally, but when it does ignite it is a powerful energetic material that can easily harm the unwary. A few particular points:
  1. Explosions are in fact possible. The two main ways these can occur are due to pockets of moisture in either the ingredients, the crucible or anything the melt spills onto; or contamination of the ingredients with relatively volatile metals (e.g. zinc or zinc oxides). In the first case you get a steam explosion, in the second case the thermite reaction reduces the metal oxide but the metal is produced as a gas rather than a liquid. Either way, you get gobs of molten iron being thrown violently out. To avoid this, you need to be sure your ingredients are scrupulously dry, and at least moderately pure (a problem if you are making it from scrap metal). If it is going to spill onto the ground, make sure the ground is also very dry.
  2. Even with some care taken to avoid volatiles, it is not uncommon for "spattering" to occur, small amounts of molten iron being thrown by traces of volatile contaminants. (In foundry and welding operations, much more severe, but still nonexplosive, spatter is also caused by overheated apparatus collapsing or dropping weights into the melt.) Consequently all flammable materials should be removed for a radius of several metres, and spectators should watch either from a safe distance or through a lucite screen.
  3. Speaking of spectators, the high temperatures involved can produce quite a bit of UV light. To avoid retinal damage observers should either be placed so that they cannot directly view the core of the reaction, or else should wear welding goggles. Other useful accoutrements for the demonstrator are elbow length heavy leather gloves, and a heavy leather apron which goes down below your boot tops. If the apron doesn't cover your boot tops then leggings are a good idea too. (The last thing you want is some molten iron getting into your boots.)
  4. Never do this demonstration above anything you would not risk igniting. I saw a demonstration years ago where the melt ran into a crucible embedded in a sand filled terra cotta flower pot sitting on an asbestos sheet on top of a lab bench. This may have seemed like adequate precautions but it was not. Due to some miscalculation the crucible overflowed, the iron somehow found its way through a crack in the baked sand to direct contact with the pot, from thermal shock the pot cracked, and collapsed, overturning the crucible, and there was enough iron present to run right off the asbestos sheet and set fire to the bench. Oops.
  5. No-one should ever attempt a dangerous demonstration without a plan for what to do if it goes wrong. In this case, that means fire-fighting and first aid. However, unless you have access to Class D fire extinguisher, the only safe fire-fighting material is very dry sand, applied with a longhandled shovel. Obviously it will not extinguish the thermite but it will stop fire spreading into surrounding material until the thermite burns itself out. If you do get a thermite fire going and don't have any sand available, do not attempt to fight it. Just get everyone to safety and when the fire brigade arrives, make sure they know there's burning metal involved. --Securiger 09:08, 17 Jun 2005 (UTC)
This information should be added to Wikibooks: Thermite synthesis. --Yannick Gingras 06:52, August 28, 2005 (UTC)
Yeah, I was aware of the risk from moisture. I've heard that thermite can supposedly dissociate the hydrogen from water and ignite it- not an ideal scenario. As for making the materials from household items, I'd say that's an exercice in futility. Getting a fine, dry, pure powder from rusty nails/steel wool or filed pop cans is unlikely. I learned that the hard way. --Daveswagon 00:51, 19 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Oh trust me it works. Made it in 8th grade off the Anarchists cookbook. Tore up the sidewalk like hell. Used a DC trainset transformer, salt water, etc - Anon
It does burn very hot; when I made some, the dirt where it had been ignited remained burning for a few seconds after the thermite had gone out. The dirt had been turned to charcoal by the heat. As to making it with household materials, one source of fine aluminum powder is silver spray paint. The aluminum powder can be washed from the paint with acetone or paint thinner. As the above user mentioned, iron oxide can be prepared electrolytically (and then dried in an oven). As to thermite separating hydrogen from water, the aluminum does this. It's actually a kind of incomplete thermite reaction. The equation is: 2Al + 6H20 => 2Al(OH)3 + 3H2 -- Anon
Yeah, i made some according to the information avalable in the anarchists cookbook. the ratio is (i think) 8FeO:3Al. Could be wrong. It burnt like a bitch, i tryed it out in my garden and it went through brick. Quite spectacular. The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk • contribs) .
I think it would be extremely unwise to post how to make thermite on here, being as how the ingrediants are relatively simple to obtain and the reaction is quite dangerous when performed by someone who isn't trained to handle it. I've seen thermite rip the oxygen out of dry ice (CO2) to continue burning, so it's not at all easy to "put out". In any case, the last thing that needs to happen is a bunch of kids being badly injured or worse becuase of instructions they found on here. Helgers7 06:36, 17 March 2007 (UTC)
Added a disclaimer section, saying that the info is for informational purposes only, and that nobody on Wikipedia will take the blame if you make it and injure/kill/destroy yourself/someone else/something you weren't supposed to. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Jufam44 (talkcontribs) 03:26, 26 March 2007 (UTC).

I've made thermite before, and it worked quite well. I kept a magnet and an envelope with me for a while until I had a lot of rust, and then I curshed it in a vice til it was a very fine powder. I got powdered aluminum by fileing a bar of aluminum. I didn't need to make alot of thermite this way, just enought to get it going. Anyhow, I set it in a small container of aluminum foil and put it on top of a pill of non powdered rust and aluminum foil. I stuck a magnesium strip in to the top and away it went. It is fairly easy to make thermite with some ingenuity, took me about an hour to crush the rust and file the aluminum. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:29, 23 February 2008 (UTC)

--Kyanite 23:13, 6 July 2006 (UTC)--Kyanite 23:13, 6 July 2006 (UTC)

You can buy all kinds of different finely powdered Iron oxides in kilogram bags from your local hardware store. It is used for colouring cement. And you can put Aluminium foil in a blender, it takes a while to get it fine but it works. Use sparklers for the easiest ignition. Incredibleman007 (talk) 17:09, 15 July 2008 (UTC)

Aluminium and Rust?[edit]

The ingredients I have noticed is aluminium and rust, a reactive metal and a metal oxide. But how would you keep the aluminium staying just that and not oxidizing itself because aluminium is so reactive and oxidizes. So wouldnt the reaction really be aluminium oxide and iron oxide? --Anon.

No, aluminium oxide and iron oxide would not react at all. As already mentioned in the article, a key point is that aluminium forms a passivation layer, so even though it is highly reactive it remains inert until melted. --Securiger 07:56, 4 October 2005 (UTC)
Atmospheric oxidation is sometimes a disadvantage of using very fine aluminum powders in thermites, but this oxidation only occurs at high temperatures after the thermite has been ignited and then only in areas where the thermite can contact air. Also, rust is not the best ingredient for thermite because it contains a mixture of iron oxides and hydroxides (Fe2O3, FeO(OH), Fe(OH)3, etc).

The reason aluminum is used in the reaction has less to do with passivation and a lot more to do with the activity series of metals. Thermite is a single replacement reaction! In the Activity Series, alumium is near the top, bested only by Mg, Sr, Ba, Li, Na, and K. Thus, only metals that are less reactive than aluminum (lower down on the series) will have their oxide "stolen" by aluminum allowing a thermite reaction. Aluminum "wants" the oxygen from the other metal. The higher up in the activity series the other metal is (chromium, titanium, iron) the less violently the aluminum will nab the oxygen! So, Copper, being very near the bottom of the activity series, will react very exothermically with the aluminum. Iron Oxide is used because its cheap, and yields a useful product (molten iron). So to awnser the question, the aluminum cannot already be reacted, otherwise it has no reason to "steal" the oxygen from the other reactant! —Kyanite 23:13, 6 July 2006 (UTC)

Cleanup tag[edit]

I just added the clanup tag because it looks to me like it could be better worded.

I just changed it from Iron(II) oxide to Iron(III) oxide. Now I'm trying to document this and having trouble. Can someone find a reliable source for whther it shouldbe ferric or ferrous? (Sorry if I changed soemthing that was correct). RJFJR 14:29, 24 December 2005 (UTC)

I suppose ferric oxide could be used in a thermite reaction, but ferric oxide (rust) is much more commonly used. Iron (II, III) oxide (Fe3O4, magnetite) can also be used. A source is at, this seems fairly reliable and backs up ferric oxide.

Melt through concrete? is that possible?--XAdHominemx 21:37, 1 January 2006 (UTC)

I think this is an appropriate section for this discussion.--XAdHominemx 02:09, 2 January 2006 (UTC)
Yes, it's quite possible for concrete to melt, as was discovered during the investigation of the Chernobyl accident. Alphax τεχ 06:15, 21 January 2006 (UTC)
I thought the top was blown off by a H2 gas steam explosion... Besides, the temperatures reached during the Chernobly accident were much higher than those reached by the thermite reaction. --XAdHominemx 07:49, 22 January 2006 (UTC)
Hrm, apparantly the Elephant's foot was molten fuel, not concrete. I'll have to check up on this. Alphax τεχ 02:02, 3 March 2006 (UTC)

with sulfur it cuts throug steel faster[edit]

"with sulfur it cuts throug steel faster." I removed this senetence from the article because it was placed innappropriately in the history section, needed correct spelling and punctuation, and is unsourced. I would encourage the writer to source it and correct the spelling because if it is true, it would be nice to include. Sifaka 21:57, 31 March 2006 (UTC)

- I checked it. It is true.


As a compleat novice, I would like to ask the brain boxs out there, is it possible to make a usable propelent out of thermit? And if it is possible, what sort of casing could contain the energy and direct the power?

Doubt it. Propellants and explosives are supposed to kick out a lot of kinetic energy, which thermite doesnae do. --maru (talk) contribs 05:51, 8 April 2006 (UTC)

Thermite cannot be used as a propellant, even though it releases an enormous amount of energy (by mass, it is one of the most exothermic reactions known). This is because none of the products of the reaction are gaseous, and propellants must release gas in order to push objects forward. Likewise Thermite is not an explosive, since the production of gases is necessary to violently burst a container.

It occurs to me that you might be able to use thermite to heat/boil water (or some other liquid), producing a gas (water vapor or whatever) which could then be used as a propellant. I'm sure it wouldn't be anywhere near as efficient as some other mixtures containing aluminum, but... --MyrddinEmrys 08:08, 15 August 2006 (UTC)
At high enough temperatures and pressures, thermite would fission or fusion and produce sufficient energy to propel an object, even without gas released :) --Froth 22:45, 22 August 2006 (UTC)

Actually, I believe I recall the show Mythbusters referring to it as a rocket fuel.

Thermite would be a very inefficient rocket fuel as any container strong enough to contain the reaction would be extremely heavy.

Yep, no rocket fuel here.

Just to cut it short, solid rocket fuel is actually close to being an explosive. Now why doesn´t it explode when the rocket is fired ? Because the fuel is in a long, cylindrical container. In the middle of the cylinder, all along the axis, is a solid steel rod. This rod prevents the heat to set off the entire load of fuel immediately, ensuring a nice, slow burn lengthwise in the rocket. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:50, 13 March 2008 (UTC)

Actually there have been rockets made using thermites. I don't know that iron oxides / aluminum work, but CuO/Al definitely does, thanks to the vaporized Cu it produces, perhaps. - Hammilton — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:42, 31 May 2013 (UTC)

potassium chlorate and peanut butter[edit]

citation is definately required on this one - while potassium chlorate is a strong oxidiser ( I'm not sure that ypu'd be doing much more than burning peanut oil here - not really a reaction in the same category as the thermite reaction—Preceding unsigned comment added by Peterxyz (talkcontribs)

Regarding peanut butter, I think the idea was to use it to ignite the thermite, but I don't know whether it actually works. Also, we don't need to list every possible way to ignite thermite, just the common ones. -SCEhardT 22:27, 17 June 2006 (UTC)

I routinely use the peanut-butter method to ignite thrmite. Chlorates are such powerful oxidizers that they will react violently with any easily-reduced substance. I invented the method when wondering how to ignite a kilogram of the stuff, after having failed with magnesium. I simply went to Safeway and examined the caloric contets, per gram, of various foodstuffs, assuming that a higher calorie concentration cooresponded to a greater amount of chemical potential energy available. Since the human body oxidizes substances just like chlorates will (though much more slowly and in a more controlled manner), this made sense. Jif Creamy Peanut Butter contained the most fats and sugars and so on, so I bought it, rolled a teaspoon in KClO3, and kneaded it like a roll of bread. It worked perfectly. The substance might well be a high-order explosive if triggered by a suitable detonator. That isn't an experiment I amn going to attempt. But overall I recognize that my own experience does not constitute a verifiable source, so I will hold off on describing the peanut-butter method until I get a book published ;-).

Note on potassium chlorate: It burns, but it also detonates

I'll just mention that potassium chlorate not only burns (deflagrates), it also high-order detonates, e.g., like nitroglycerin. I learned this the hard way. I used to mix a few teaspoonfuls of 50/50 potassium chlorate and sugar and put it into a dry empty diet Pepsi can, then drop a match in. Very cool effect, looked like the space shuttle solid rockets venting upwards through the can's hole. Then, the aluminum in the can would be heated enough that the can would melt, gently settling towards the ground, leaving a very flat can "pancake".

Well, this was all very cool and I'd done it a number of times, but during one demonstration, the can opener flap blew shut; I hadn't made certain it was bent flat internally. There was about half a second for me to get a hand in front of my eyes, then the can detonated. The internal pressures and temperatures must have gone off the map, and, of course, the speed of a chemical reaction doubles when its temperature is raised 10 degrees C.

There was an extremely loud BLAMM!! which echoed off my neighbor's houses. The ringing in my ears lasted a couple of days. I did find one... well, small shred ... of aluminum. The can base had been driven into the ground a few inches. There was nothing else; the can had dematerialized somehow. I believe I accidentally pushed the potassium chlorate into high-order detonation.

No one was hurt, thank God, and amazingly, no one called the police.

I strongly recommend using potassium perchlorate, which is a bit more stable when things like this go wrong. Although -- the space shuttle rocket fuel plant in Henderson, Nevada (South Las Vegas) caught fire and burned, and eventually did a high order detonation, with perchlorate. My brother's house had its garage door dished in, etc. This was one of the leading reasons he moved back to Colorado : - )

And, of course, there are the fairly new and extremely annoying limits on how much oxidizer you can buy, by weight ...

Anyway, just a note of caution.

    Dave Small  —Preceding unsigned comment added by Davidmsmall (talkcontribs) 17:22, August 27, 2007 (UTC) 


"Conventional thermite reactions require very high temperatures for initiation. These cannot be reached with conventional black-powder fuses, nitrocellulose rods, detonators, or other common igniting substances. Even when the thermite is hot enough to glow bright red, it will not ignite as it must be at or near white-hot to initiate the reaction. It is possible to start the reaction using a propane torch if done right, but this should never be attempted for safety reasons." A common detonator such as a blasting cap burns hotter than propane. Dudtz 6/20/06 7:45 PM EST

Blasting caps are designed for setting off a detonation in explosive materials, however. The powder nature of Thermite would cause the material to spray everywhere rather than achieve the desired effect. From what I understand, the fuses in thermite grenades activates a magnesium igniter. A blasting cap is itself an exposive device meant to initiate detonation within military-stable explosives such as C4, which require both heat and pressure to activate. - Steelcobra 04July06, 0615 EST
Supposedly cupric oxide/aluminum thermite can be set off by a blasting cap or a gunshot; I have seen videos of both. However, this type of thermite often proceeds with reactants and products in the gaseous phase, as opposed to liquid with conventional (iron oxide) thermite. -- 19:48, 12 July 2006 (UTC)

C4 does not conduct electricity. As a secondary explosive, it is set off by a blasting cap. The blasting cap is often ignited with an electrical ignitor. From the article on C4, "The only reliable method for detonation is via a detonator or blasting cap." -- 19:48, 12 July 2006 (UTC)

disabling artillery[edit]

Informative but inappropriate, don't you think? --Froth

    Not particularly, the article is about thermite, its composition and uses. --Sarkmiegel

The correct term is anti-materiel, not anti-material. Materiel is the correct term for military equipment. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:51, 12 June 2009 (UTC)

Corrected the mixup with iron oxides[edit]

Having used both variants, (and done the chemistry and math), I fixed the mixup in the article regarding the iron oxides. Stoichiometric thermite made from Fe3O4 is very mild compared to the one made from Fe2O3. The latter burns so hot, the white-hot iron seems almost blue. If anyone has tried thermite from FeO (which might not even burn), that would be an interesting addition to the article. Also, rust is not actually Fe2O3, but a mixture of different oxides, hydroxides and carbonates of iron. The point here is that thermite made directly from rust would yield a significant volume of gases, possibly also hydrogen, all of which - at the very minimum - could result in lower quality welding joint or cast. 10:05, 30 November 2006 (UTC)

Answer to FeO question: I use FeO for making thermite when I teach basic chemistry, in particularly stoichiometric calculations, as the sums are easier to do using Ferrous oxide, FeO, than for Fe2O3. Another benefit of using FeO as the oxide, it is easy to swap the aluminium for magnesium then get the students to do the sums again, and demonstrate it with a mix that still delivers a nice controlled reaction though hotter and faster. The practical demonstration using thermite is very visual, and helps young teenagers remember the theory, as well as learning how to handle potentially hazardous processes safely. AccHistories (talk) 08:46, 13 January 2013 (UTC)

Clean Up Jan. 2007[edit]

This article needs a great deal of cleanup and copy editing to improve its tone, remove redundant content, and remove or move trivia that dosen't contribute to the article as a whole. Please help if you can!Iepeulas 07:18, 21 January 2007 (UTC)

Difficult to set off?[edit]

If anyone else watches Mythbusters, didn't they paint a small blimp with thermite and light it? It seemed to me that the reaction too place a lot easier than this article makes it sound. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 07:41, 27 January 2007 (UTC).

This article is not inapropriate in any manner. Thermite making is a very complicated process any can be done in several ways. I myself have made thermite.

I'm not the best student, but I'm pretty sure I saw my college chemistry teacher take a ball of rust, wrap it in aluminum foil, and hit it with a hammer, thus initiating a thermite reaction. As far as mythbusters goes, they used both actual thermite and a dope containing unmixed thermite ingredients, so it rather depends which instance you mean. 07:28, 4 March 2007 (UTC)

Thermite is hard to light but in mythbusters they used finely powdered ingredients and spread them thin so it would have reached ignition temperature much faster. Incredibleman007 (talk) 17:17, 15 July 2008 (UTC)


The ability to carry energy is good in aluminium, which is effectively burned, which yields the reaction heat. The reduction of the iron(III) to elemental iron actually requires energy. A little besides the point; the production of aluminium from Al2O3 requres a vast amount of precious electrical energy. It can never be fuel.Sikkema 23:55, 20 May 2007 (UTC)

The symbol for the enthalpy of a reaction is used several times in this article, yet there is no mention that that is what it is and it is simply thrown into the middle of sentences. In addition to that there seems to be a formula missing for the reaction of thermite. Helgers7 06:45, 17 March 2007 (UTC)

I am interested in the mention that the reaction in the presence of aluminum may cause the release of Hydrogen as it was mentioned that Hydrogen was released when the reaction took place under water. As with the commonly known reaction of aluminum foil and certain toilet bowl cleaners, I am interested in learning about reactions which could produce vast amounts of Hydrogen and yet be a safe and ecological means of producing it for use as an alternate energy fuel.

When I was in Junior High back in the early 60's my science instructor had made a form of 'touch-powder' which when dried upon a paper towel would react and explode when the paper towel was touched or slightly moved. I am not sure what was in it, but several of us in attempting to make it experimented in using aluminum and iodine crystals and found that if the aluminum was course enough like from aluminum being cut with a hacksaw and not a powder, that the aluminum 'sawdust' and the iodine crystals reacted when a drop or 2 of water was put on them producing a plume of purple smoke and a very intense heat from the reaction.

What has piqued my curiosity about these metal reactions is a website that I have come across where they claim to have come upon just such a reaction.

I have also hear mention that Hydrogen balloons were used in the Civil War and that the hydrogen was produced on site from some sort of portable hydrogen generator of sorts. Do we have the technology to make us independent of oil?? I for one would sure like to know.

Carcom 21:10, 17 March 2007 (UTC)

One must be careful not confuse energy generation with energy delivery. Hydrogen is easily and abundantly made by electrolysis and various chemical reactions. The big question is, where does the energy to make them come from? For electrolysis, energy from the usual places (coal, natural gas, hydroelectricity, nuclear and photovoltaics). Hydrogen is not a source, only a delivery mechanism. For an aluminum-iodine scheme, where would the energy come from? I suppose one could mine aluminum ore, reduce it (or recycle beer and pop cans), dig up or extract iodine from seawater and combine it. But it should be intuitively suspicious that the energy to obtain the materials could possibly exceed the reaction's output. —EncMstr 23:20, 18 March 2007 (UTC)
The touch powder was most likely nitrogen triiodide.--GalFisk 15:27, 10 May 2007 (UTC)

added a picture[edit]

of my own thermite mixture using iron (II,III) oxide... i felt it was necessary Tyklink 00:16, 6 June 2007 (UTC)

I added a few items[edit]

I have a lot of experience with thermite, having burned at least 50lbs in my life (and I still have about 50lbs stored away), so I have tried many things with it.

I added and changed the section about igniting thermite with sparklers to warn that the sparks can ignite thermite. Though iron is less reactive than magnesium, it can potentially burn at equal temperatures if the ratio of volume to surface area is sufficient and there is a sufficient supply of oxygen, since metals do not release cooling gasses as they burn (unless they evaporate). I suspected that the sparks would ignite it, so I tried it a few times, and as I expected, the sparker sometimes ignited the thermite when the burning section was over a half a foot away from the thermite. It helped if I sprinkled sand over the exposed thermite.

I also tried using a lighter, and it was surprisingly easy to ignite tiny piles of thermite by merely getting a spark to land on the thermite.

I also added that preheated thermite can flash-burn. That is actually how I am able to get single globules of chromium of several grams each. I pack some chromium oxide thermite into a large lump, heat it with two propane torches until the lump is glowing, and then point the propane torch in just the right spot and at the right angle to overheat it and initiate the reaction. It burns much faster and hotter than it does if ignited while cold. I tried this with iron oxide thermite, and it was obvious from my first experiment that preheated iron oxide thermite can burn almost explosively.

Joel 02:39, 9 July 2007 (UTC)

Why isn't demolition application mentioned?[edit]

The failure to mention, under Civilian Uses, that thermite is used to demolish buildings seems like a gap in the description 08:56, 16 July 2007 (UTC)

Other than the allegations by some individuals that thermite or thermate was used in the destruction of the World Trade Center I don't know of any references to the use of thermite for demolition. If you have any sources for it's use for this purpose I'm sure it could be included. Regarding the allegations regarding the WTC destruction I'd say that could be mentioned as well though obviously It's going to be difficult for anyone to address that in a proper NPOV fashion. I wrote a bit about this sensitive subject in the talk page for thermate. Raitchison 05:29, 22 August 2007 (UTC)
For reference to the use of thermite for demolition, see for example this Battelle patent application:
Thermite charge

Aluminum vs Aluminium[edit]

Both spellings are used, Aluminium would appear to be the preferred option.

Per that, and given that the IUPAC recongnizes "aluminium" as the official spelling, I have replaced all remaining instances of "aluminum" with "aluminium".
Jb17kx 11:34, 30 July 2007 (UTC)

If you are in the UK, please go ahead with the British Spelling with 2 x i. Leave the version with 1 x i to the Americans. -They are after all the guys with the letter "c" used twice in their alphabet, too....... —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:42, 13 March 2008 (UTC)

Or just anywhere other than America; as in everywhere where it is spelled correctly. (talk) 13:34, 23 June 2012 (UTC)

Energy output of the two types[edit]

"While the reaction using Fe3O4 produces a substantially larger amount of energy pr. mol, the reaction using Fe2O3, produces more energy pr. gram of thermite mixture."

This makes no sense as there is a direct relationship between moles and grams (of a given substance). I did rough calculations and found that Fe2O3's ΔH = -5 kJ/g (approximate number) and Fe3O4's ΔH = -13 kJ/g (approximate number). I can show you the math, if you don't believe me. Can someone explain why this information is on the page, short of my being completely incorrect in my understanding? I will remove the quoted passage by the end of the week unless given reason (factual) not to. Rmnguy 00:11, 11 October 2007 (UTC)

There is no reason. Proceed. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:14, 13 June 2008 (UTC)

WikiProject class rating[edit]

This article was automatically assessed because at least one WikiProject had rated the article as start, and the rating on other projects was brought up to start class. BetacommandBot 07:56, 10 November 2007 (UTC)


"A significant danger of magnesium ignition is the fact that the metal is an excellent conductor of heat; heating one end of the ribbon may cause the other end to transfer enough heat to the thermite to cause premature ignition."

I removed this from the ignition section of the article because it is incorrect. Magnesium would melt before it transfered enough heat to ignite the thermite because its melting point is far below the ignition temperature of thermite. Also the Magnesium would probably ignite before it melted so in any case the thermite would not ignite before the flame reached it because magnesium hot enough to ignite thermite is well past its ignition temperature and so is lit therefore the burning Magnesium's flame reaches the thermite before it ignites. Incredibleman007 (talk) 17:47, 15 July 2008 (UTC)


What can extinguish a thermite/thermate fire? will a class D extinguisher work? —Preceding unsigned comment added by UltraMagnus (talkcontribs) 13:26, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

No. Because it has its own oxygen you need to cool it to the point where it stops burning (which is hard) otherwise it will keep burning. You could hit it or kick it to remove the thermite that hasn't started burning yet from the burning thermite but this would only reduce the burn not put it out. Incredibleman007 (talk) 09:18, 24 September 2008 (UTC)

Thermite (Metallothermic reactions) can be halted by extracting heat very quickly. Lowering the surrounding temperature with the addition of an appropriate quantity of LN2 can easily quench a reaction. This is the official procedure for many DOE laboratories including Savannah River Lab) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:29, 27 September 2008 (UTC)

Mixing ratios and released energy. Any interest?[edit]

I see that some people in this forum question whether one should include "recepies" on how to make thermite or not. I personally believe that such information should be freely available (actually, it is today). If someone with more editing skills than me could insert the following table somewhere on the thermite page, I think it would be a nice contribution to the subject of thermite. The data are based on my own calculations, carried out using physical and thermodynamical data from CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, 87th ed., 2006. I hold a master's degree in chemical engineering.

Aluminum based                                  
Metal oxide                     Mixing ratios (MeO : Me) [w% : w%]            Released energy [kJ/g mixture]
Antimony(V) oxide       Sb2O5   78.25   :       21.75   4.404
Barium(II) oxide        BaO     89.50   :       10.50   0.062
Boron(III) oxide        B2O3    56.33   :       43.67   3.254
Cerium(IV) oxide        CeO2    82.71   :       17.29   0.137
Chromium(III) oxide     Cr2O3   73.80   :       26.20   2.603
Cobalt(II) oxide        CoO     80.64   :       19.36   3.451
Copper(I) oxide         Cu2O    88.83   :       11.17   2.421
Copper(II) oxide        CuO     81.56   :       18.44   4.114
Gallium(I) oxide        Ga2O    89.63   :       10.37   1.168
Gallium(III) oxide      Ga2O3   77.65   :       22.35   2.430
Iron(II) oxide          FeO     79.98   :       20.02   3.190
Iron(II,III) oxide      Fe3O4   76.29   :       23.71   3.677
Iron(III) oxide         Fe2O3   74.74   :       25.26   3.985
Lead(II) oxide          PbO     92.54   :       7.460   1.408
Lead(II,III,IV) oxide   Pb3O4   90.50   :       9.500   2.001
Lead(IV) oxide          PbO2    86.93   :       13.07   3.052
Manganese(II) oxide     MnO     79.77   :       20.23   1.950
Manganese(II,III) oxide Mn3O4   76.08   :       23.92   2.814
Manganese(III) oxide    Mn2O3   74.53   :       25.47   3.383
Manganese(IV) oxide     MnO2    70.73   :       29.27   4.858
Niobium(IV) oxide       NbO2    77.64   :       22.36   1.995
Niobium(V) oxide        Nb2O5   74.72   :       25.28   2.511
Silver(I) oxide         Ag2O    92.80   :       7.200   2.112
Tantalum(V) oxide       Ta2O5   83.09   :       16.91   1.404
Tin(II) oxide           SnO     88.22   :       11.78   1.820
Tin(IV) oxide           SnO2    80.73   :       19.27   2.890
Titanium(IV) oxide      TiO2    68.94   :       31.06   1.495
Zinc(II) oxide          ZnO     81.90   :       18.10   2.093

Thanks, Helge Smedsrud ( —Preceding unsigned comment added by Niob (talkcontribs) 18:34, 6 October 2008 (UTC)

This would be interesting information to include, but I'm concerned that this is getting close to Original Research. Are these values published anywhere in already-calculated form? Are some of the reactions with low released energy (such as Barium(II) oxide) even self-sustaining? Do all the reactions have readily attainable activation energies? -SCEhardT 20:55, 6 October 2008 (UTC)

"Answer to question on Original Research and source": The table is the basic stoichiometry, and can be calculated easily. In practice some of the reactions need boosters to sustain them, others need fluxing agents added to obtain the metal, but that does not change the figures for the stoichiometric proportions of the thermite. If the table is used, it should state that the energies listed include the energy released on cooling to the solid phase. The information is published in the page. Nobody answering the question at the foot of this page from another author about why this information was removed? AccHistories (talk) 09:05, 13 January 2013 (UTC)

Magnesium burning process[edit]

"Magnesium strips do not need oxygen". Sure, they use dark forces to oxidize. Fix the bug, please. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:00, 31 October 2008 (UTC)

Why were reactions removed?[edit]

Why was the ratio of materials and chemical equations removed from this article? It is about chemistry and removing this information because "kids might make it" is pretty stupid and not based on policy eg Wikipedia:What Wikipedia is not#Wikipedia_is_not_censored. It is simple to calculate, and you can find it all over the place on the internet so its not going to do anything to those that might be inclined to try it. Noodle snacks (talk) 02:30, 7 November 2008 (UTC)

add ignition temp and energy release for a common thermite formula?[edit]

Can we add:

  • Temperature at which common thermites ignite?
  • Energy released by common formula for thermite? (May have been in the article previously but I don't see it now).

RJFJR (talk) 21:46, 14 March 2009 (UTC)

I am just clear on the use of "in fact". It left me wondering if something is wrong here?

Ignition Metals are capable of burning under the right conditions, similarly to the combustion process of wood or gasoline. In fact, rust is the result of oxidation of steel or iron at very slow rates. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:36, 22 April 2009 (UTC)

Fe2O3 or Fe3O4[edit]

In the introduction it states that "the most common thermite is aluminium-iron(III) oxide", however, in the Types section it states that Fe3O4 is the most commonly used thermite. Which of these statements is correct? Can anyone provide a source? (talk) 19:21, 7 October 2009 (UTC)

Fe3O4 (iron III oxide), or magnetite, is a common fuel. Fe2O3 (Iron II oxide), or hematite, is also used. There is no contradiction in the :article, but I don't know which is more commonly used. I'll look into that when I get a chance.
edit: Fe2O3 is iron(III) oxide, and Fe3O4 is iron(II,III) oxide. There's a list a few posts/topics up. 

I am curious about which is used for melting through something, and which is used for welding something. Is there a difference in ignition temp? and if there is a difference in rate of reaction, is a shielding gas used in thermite reactions intended for welding?

More interestingly, the picture purports to show an Fe3O4 mixture, but it's the wrong color. If it is a picture of thermite (and I'm not sure :WHAT it is a picture of), it would be Fe2O3. Is anyone confident enough about my last statement to fix it? I've never seen an Fe2O3 mixture. Wowest (talk) 22:05, 31 March 2010 (UTC)
You know what? I haven't had enough sleep, and I am confused about this. I might have it backwards, and the article DOES contradict itself. I
will be back later. Wowest (talk) 22:13, 31 March 2010 (UTC)

Cooking with thermite[edit]

This is too trivial to add to the encyclopedia article but it is interesting: Thermite Thanksgiving. I think I'll stick with the gas range. davidwr/(talk)/(contribs)/(e-mail) 18:08, 27 November 2009 (UTC)

Classed as an explosive?[edit]

The assertion that nano-thermite is classed as an explosive appears to be unsourced. Might I recommend removal of this factoid unless a source is provided? Thistlethorn (talk) 20:30, 25 July 2010 (UTC) After further research, I've decided to remove the assertion. It appears to be faulty. Thistlethorn (talk) 16:27, 26 July 2010 (UTC)

Disambiguation : Not to be confused with termite[edit]

LOL —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:48, 17 August 2010 (UTC)

If we're voting here, I second the silly nature of that. Batvette (talk) 04:37, 5 November 2012 (UTC)


I know iron oxide is safe to eat, and I'm pretty sure you can pass aluminum with ease, so like... —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:34, 10 March 2011 (UTC)

Protect This Page[edit]

This pages should be potected from editing by newly registered users and unregistered users. This is due to the high number of attacks on this page and the nanothermite page from all of the 9/11 conspiracy assholes. Whalerguy1 (talk) 19:36, 16 September 2011 (UTC)

Popular culture[edit]

I added 'Popular culture' section in 'Thermite' article with this info- "American TV drama series 'Breaking Bad' depicts use of thermite to melt the locking system of a warehouse in the episode " A No-Rough-Stuff_Type deal" I also added the reference for this. Somebody please tell me why was it deleted? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:24, 27 December 2012 (UTC)

Someone must have thought it wasn't entirely notable. Fair point I guess. Although when I saw the title of this article I thought of Breaking Bad too, but that's only because I'd recently seen that episode. Maybe if Thermite was a recurring figure in the show. I don't know. --phocks (talk) 11:34, 28 November 2013 (UTC)

File:ThermiteReaction.jpg to appear as POTD[edit]

Hello! This is a note to let the editors of this article know that File:ThermiteReaction.jpg will be appearing as picture of the day on March 24, 2013. You can view and edit the POTD blurb at Template:POTD/2013-03-24. If this article needs any attention or maintenance, it would be preferable if that could be done before its appearance on the Main Page. Thanks! — Crisco 1492 (talk) 23:07, 10 March 2013 (UTC)

Picture of the day
Thermite reaction

Thermite is a pyrotechnic composition of a metal powder and a metal oxide that produces extremely high temperatures focused on a very small area for a short period of time. Pictured here is a thermite reaction using iron(III) oxide; the sparks flying outwards are globules of molten iron trailing smoke in their wake.

Photo: Nikthestunned
ArchiveMore featured pictures...

Chemical reactions[edit]

The sentence "The aluminium reduces the oxide of another metal, most commonly iron oxide, because aluminium is more reactive is tautological and meaningless. The only factual statement that can be made about this reaction is that the reaction of metallic aluminium with metal oxides is exothermic with most (but not all) metal oxides. Reason? In its simplest form, the fuel (Al metal) is a stronger reducing agent than the metal (Fe) which is combined with oxygen in the oxidizer, but this begs the question, why? Look at the reaction:

Fe2O3 + 2 Al → 2 Fe + Al2O3

The standard enthalpy of this reaction depends on the standard enthalpy of formation of the oxides. One way to rationalize the exothermic nature of the reaction is to say that Al metal is more electropositive than Fe metal and this can be quantified using Mulliken electronegativity, which, in this case, is mostly determined by ionization potentials. The more electropositive metal reacts with oxygen, under standard conditions, to form the oxide, giving out more heat (more exothermic), so it reduces the oxide of the less electropositive metal.

The word reactive occurs 8 other times in the article. From a chemist's point of view this is very poor indeed. Petergans (talk) 08:32, 24 March 2013 (UTC)


As stated in WP:UNIT “In science-related articles: generally use only SI units, non-SI units officially accepted for use with the SI, and specialized units that are used in some sciences. US Customary and imperial units are not required.” (talk) 17:55, 30 June 2013 (UTC)

Define the oxidizer in the lede[edit]

In the introduction, it states that thermite consists of metal powder, fuel and metal oxide. Two sentences later, it calls it a fuel-oxidizer mixture. In the following paragraph, it says fuels include [list of metals] and oxidizers include [list of metal oxides].

Are the metals the same as the fuel? If so, why are they listed separately?

Also, I think it would help to include in the introduction a linking sentence: "The metals serve as fuel and the metal oxides serve as oxidizers". Otherwise the lede is confusing to anyone that isn't already familiar with the chemistry of the thermite reaction. (talk) 13:57, 11 March 2015 (UTC)

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Main property missing from lede?[edit]

I would think the most important aspect of (most?) thermite mixtures is that one of the reaction products is metal in a liquid (molten) state. Shouldn't that be mentioned in the lede? Prevalence 17:13, 27 April 2016 (UTC)

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