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Old 02-25-2009, 03:18 PM
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How dangerous is old dynamite?

I've seen this as a plot device in various movies and TV shows, and I know it has a factual basis. Old dynamite, especially if stored in a hot environment, will sweat nitroglycerin, which usually crystallizes on the surface. So will dynamite that has been frozen and subsequently thawed.

To the best of my knowledge, pure nitroglycerin is normally a liquid at room temperature. The fact that it crystallizes suggests that there's something different about it than normal nitroglycerin -- perhaps it's still mixed with a small amount of clay particulate? But even if it's pure nitroglycerin, it's not unreasonable to think that its crystallized form might not have exactly the same properties as its liquid form. But I couldn't guess whether this would actually have any appreciable affect on its stability.

So just how unstable is a "sweaty" stick of dynamite? I've dredged up conflicting opinions about it. Some people seem to think that it's just as unstable as pure nitroglycerin, and that the slightest disturbance could make the whole thing go boom. Others are bit more, "eh...I wouldn't hit it with a hammer or shake it like a glo-stick, but it's not that unstable".
Old 02-25-2009, 06:23 PM
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Many, many years ago when I was in high school, I worked with an old-time dynamiter in a rock quarry, I learned that cases of the sticks had to be turned over periodically, or the nitro would seep out of the sticks and pool on the bottom of the cases. As you know, nitro is vastly more touchy, and the slighest bump might set it off. Of course, back then dynamite used sawdust to soak up the nitro. I think today there is different base, and perhaps that alleviates the problem.

Never heard of it crystallizing, but I would expect that it might be similarly touchy. Nitroglycerin is certainly nothing to fool around with!

As an aside, that old guy was batshit crazy, although very good at what he did. One basic rule was never, ever to keep the detonators anywhere near the dynamite, naturally. This crazy old coot would load a few cases of dynamite in the back of his pickup, then put a box of detonators in the bed too, and drive off over bumpy roads to the quarry. I always elected to walk along and catch up to him later.

OK, that was bad enough, but the detonators had to be crimped to the end of the dynamite stick. There is a perfectly good crimper to do this safely, but that guy would just slip it on the end of the stuck and crimp it down with his teeth. I quickly got an other job, but oddly enough, he was in his 60s and had done that all his life. Go figure.
Old 02-25-2009, 07:11 PM
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My WAG about crystallization is that it's residue from sodium nitrate, which was added to many types of dynamite in the US.
Old 02-25-2009, 07:28 PM
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It's usually not a good idea to go to the movies for one's facts, but I'll just throw out that in the movie Sorceror (a remake of the French film The Wages of Fear) the nitroglycerine is liquid pooled at the bottom of the cases of dynamite (which, it's been stated, haven't been turned). It is kept in the case by the glassine wrapping. No crystallization there.

Last edited by CalMeacham; 02-25-2009 at 07:28 PM.
Old 02-25-2009, 08:04 PM
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Dynamite, since it requires a detonator for normal use, is considered a secondary explosive*. If I were to rank secondary explosives on a list, I'd put dynamite second on the list of old secondary explosives I'd call Tripler to handle I wouldn't handle myself. Old peroxides would be first on the list.

I'll see if I can dig up some actual numbers for you tomorrow (my books are in my office).



*A primary explosive is a detonator (i.e. lead azide, although other azides are available that aren't as environmentally unfriendly), a secondary is one that requires a detonator(i.e. TNT, PETN), and a tertiary is one that requires a secondary booster to initiate detonation (i.e. ANFO**). In general, tertiary have the most power and brisance per unit weight.

**ANFO can technically be initiated without a booster, but it's got to be pressed or cast, and isn't generally considered a reliable means of detonation.
Old 02-25-2009, 08:25 PM
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If you want another unstable as shit substance, try nitrogen tri iodide

I've played with it. Very pretty and very scary.

Though McGyver couldnt get a big bowl of it to explode in one episode...the irony there burned...
Old 02-25-2009, 09:04 PM
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If you want another unstable as shit substance, try nitrogen tri iodide
I think that was the stuff that back in my high school days we made up in lab and loved to use to smear small (reall small) bits of on doorknobs, etc. Much fun ensued.

PS - please don't ask me to diagram that first sentence.
Old 02-25-2009, 09:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Santo Rugger View Post
. . . I'd put dynamite second on the list of old secondary explosives I'd call Tripler to handle I wouldn't handle myself. Old peroxides would be first on the list.

I'll see if I can dig up some actual numbers for you tomorrow (my books are in my office).
We learned about old dynamite in class on several occasions (and, in fact are in the division right now that deals with it), and actually, there are established procedures to desensitize the nitroglycerine to the point that it can be relatively safer to handle to your disposal site.

I say safer, since the old stuff is fairly unstable, and there's never a guarantee you can completely desensitize the nitroglycerine if it's under wrapped paper. Just gotta be gentle and all . . .

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Old 02-25-2009, 09:57 PM
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I think that was the stuff that back in my high school days we made up in lab and loved to use to smear small (reall small) bits of on doorknobs, etc. Much fun ensued.
A teacher of mine in high school (no, NOT a science teacher) told us of a compound that one could paint onto the hinges of a locker, which, when dried, became extremely sensitive, such that opening the locker would blow the door off the hinges. I think that might be the same stuff, too.
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Old 02-25-2009, 10:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
A teacher of mine in high school (no, NOT a science teacher) told us of a compound that one could paint onto the hinges of a locker, which, when dried, became extremely sensitive, such that opening the locker would blow the door off the hinges. I think that might be the same stuff, too.
There's several ways to do this, and not exactly with just one particular compound. I'm uncomfortable with going into further detail, but I will say that yep, it can theoretically be done.

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Old 02-25-2009, 11:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
A teacher of mine in high school (no, NOT a science teacher) told us of a compound that one could paint onto the hinges of a locker, which, when dried, became extremely sensitive, such that opening the locker would blow the door off the hinges. I think that might be the same stuff, too.
The stuff we made was put on our professors chalk stick.

It pulverized most of the stick of chalk and left purple shock rings on the blackboard that are probably still there to this day...

Fortunately no fingers were lost.
Old 02-25-2009, 11:24 PM
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I'm uncomfortable with going into further detail, but I will say that yep, it can theoretically be done.
I can't fault your lack of detail at all: The reason I refrained from giving the recipe was not faulty memory.
Old 02-26-2009, 12:40 AM
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When I did my initial training, there was an old guy in the class (*John*). He knew way more than everyone, including the trainers. They would even refer some questions to him. (the law had changed and everyone had to get a new ticket)

So the question about old dynamite came up. And the answer was keep away and call in the experts. And one of the trainers looked at John and said "Which well could be you eh." John laughed and agreed, and told us about a tunnel that was being reopened after decades of being closed. In the tunnel wall at regular intervals were little niches, just big enough for a guy to stand. Three of these has old explosives stored there, and all were weepy looking.

So John was called in; he decided the risk was too great to move the old explosives, so one by one, small charges were set next to each pile and fired. The first two went with no hitch, just the firing charge went and the old sticks were scattered about (which were collected and removed between shots).

By the third shot, some of the on-lookers and managers were getting a bit difficult about the process. Anyway, John got everyone chased off and fired the shot. And that pile WAS unstable and blew. The pressure wave and noise was overwhelming. The most vocal manager disappeared home without a word.

The trainers then used this as a backstop to our legal power as shotfirers. It doesn't matter who the person is, they have to obey our directions. And with that power comes the responsibility. The law will pound a shotfirer into mush if things go wrong and someone gets hurt/killed.

Referring to KlondikeGeoff's old dynamiter. There's plenty of guys out there who do things the wrong way all their life and have always got away with it. The thing is those bad practices have caused injury or death to at least one person in the past. The reason for current procedures is written in the blood of those who got it wrong just once in the past. When you're doing it wrong with explosives, you gotta be lucky every time.

And these days, at least around here, dynamite isn't really used unless it's particular performance is required. Sticks are gelled ANFO. Very insensitive.
Old 02-26-2009, 01:14 AM
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Originally Posted by dynamitedave View Post
The trainers then used this as a backstop to our legal power as shotfirers. It doesn't matter who the person is, they have to obey our directions. And with that power comes the responsibility. The law will pound a shotfirer into mush if things go wrong and someone gets hurt/killed.

Referring to KlondikeGeoff's old dynamiter. There's plenty of guys out there who do things the wrong way all their life and have always got away with it. The thing is those bad practices have caused injury or death to at least one person in the past. The reason for current procedures is written in the blood of those who got it wrong just once in the past. When you're doing it wrong with explosives, you gotta be lucky every time.
This part bears repeating. I've never seen anybody make a post about firing site safety on the Dope before. Cool stuff, good post.
Old 02-26-2009, 12:12 PM
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Some material from TM 9-1300-214 - Military Explosives and Propellants and the Marine Corps Field Return Guide.

Sensitivity as liquid - The Picatinny Arsenal impact test shows
nitroglycerin (NC) is more sensitive than mercury fulminate.
Mercury fulminate was in the first priming caps for black powder then smokeless powder cartridges.

Frozen nitroglycerin is much less sensitive
than liquid and the liquid increases in sensitivity as the
temperature rises. The most sensitive form, however, is
when crystals are in contact with the liquid. Many
accidents have occurred when frozen dynamite was
jarred while being thawed.
You can find many sources that will say the opposite but reading closely (fine print as it were) it's the thawing area that's particularly hazardous. Nitroglycerin freezes at 13.2C, practically a balmy day .

The crystals breakdown causing hot spots that lead to initiation and detonation. Two processes are:
1. Hot spots can be caused by the inter-crystalline
friction of the energetic material.
Jarring or shock when the crystal structure is reverting to liquid at the thaw point of 13.5C.
2. Particles which are spalled off crystallite by an
incoming shock wave can form hot spots by impact on
the opposite wall of a void.
Again, shock or impacts to the crystalline structure.

The military uses nitroglycerin mainly as an principle ingredient in double base propellants where it's combined with nitrocellulose and triple base propellants where nitroguandine is also added. This effectively desensitizes the NC. It's also added as a minor ingredient (sprayed or vapored on like cereal vitamins) in small arms ball propellant.

Commercial dynamite is used in Explosive Scent Kits for training sniffer dogs.
Some of the warnings:
WARNING
Dynamite exuding Clear or Brownish liquid droplets are very sensitive to shock and therefore dangerous to transport, they should also be protected from high temperatures and severe drops and jolts. Avoid crushing, dropping, or rough handling.
WARNING
Notify OIC/NCOIC immediately if the dynamite shows signs of exudation or crystallization.
Dynamite exudes (brownish liquid droplets that crystallizes) Critical
Dynamite exudes a clear/brownish liquid that may crystallize or a residue that appears to be a white powder or a dust Critical


I've had to destroy the dynamite from two scent kits in my career due to exudation (liquid coming through the wrapper and crystallization in the end folds of the wrapper. There are a dozen 1/2 lb sticks in each kit. Two types: 40% NC and a non-explosive binder like a cellulose material. There is some oil added to this mixture for friction reduction. The other type mixes NC with ammonium nitrate. We couldn't transport at this point - forbidden in the rule books. A back loader came out from the main base to the ammunition storage area; dug a hole ~6 ft deep midway between the explosive storage magazines. I hand carried the dynamite from the bunker and placed in the hole (arranged a circle of sandbags before bringing it out). Placed a block of C-4 wrapped with detonating cord next to the dynamite. Put a piece of plywood on the sandbags above the shot then 4 more thicknesses of sandbags. Ran the detonating cord out - attached a blasting cap/time fuse/igniter assembly - pulled the ring and walked away. Very effective. First time I was soaked from sweat - I'd done demolition before but NC with crystals was a different story. Second time I was more prepared and we used fewer sandbags. Some from the first detonation never disintegrated and were launched whole over the fence line.

What is called Military Dynamite is not related to commercial dynamite - it's just TNT in wrapper / stick form; no NC.
Old 05-01-2017, 04:51 PM
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Old Dynamite

years ago, I owned an ancient ranch in the middle of nowhere, 200 acres with 7 cabins loaded with antiques . 8 mile dirt driveway with 6 gates to get in, impassable in winter. There were boxes of dynamite, much of it between 50-95 years old. the original owners used it to blast giant boulders that rolled into the driveway periodically. When I sold it, I had to get rid of it. An old guy who did grading all over the mountain had handled dynamite for decades. He told me it was all myth, being unstable. It takes a major blast to activate it, bare minimum good blasting caps. I didn't believe him but had hundreds of sticks to dispose of. most was covered in sweat, some stuck together, very scary to me.He came out and to prove his point, grabbed the sweatiest sticks, tore then from the bundle as I ran for a boulder to hide behind. He took two stick and snapped them in half. he said black powder is dangerous, real dynamite has to be blasted to explode. He set several up and shot them with his rifle, and his pistol. nothing happened. He started a fire and threw them in it, they just burned hotter and different color. He threw the sticks at boulders, saying the old westerns were all fake, you can only explode dynamite by shooting it if you hit a blasting cap next to the dynamite, and you don't have to worry about shaking it or it being sensitive, as he threw it around and ripped it up.
So we had some fun. There were many blasting caps. We hooked 3 sticks up to a wire and used his jeep battery to explode them. It was insanely loud. Even though we were in the middle of the wilderness, someone would hear it somewhere. We took 4 sticks and threw them in the pond and used the blasting caps. Unbelievable explosion, made a geyser, but the sound was muffled. We kept adding more, until our grand finale, with 40 sticks taped together and 3 blasting caps. We touched the leads to the battery...the ground literally shook, knocked us both off our feet, two windows shattered in the closest cabin, and the entire pond recede like slow motion, then erupted 40' into the air, raining the whole pond for thousands of yards. An old tree on the hillside fell. It was incredible. the ultimate playing with firecrackers. I went on this thread to see if the info had changed in this many years, when we did it I had no google, juts old books. Apparently the info is still misleading . He told me that was no accident, the authorities want you to report all dynamite found in old mines and sheds so they can account for it, not because it is imminently dangerous. Unless you somehow blow it up, it is pretty harmless. Thats just reality. The rest is myth. I was there, I saw it and eventually did it myself, got very comfortable with it. But I didn't leave any, as the land was being transferred into national forest, and I sure didn't want to bring any with me. But it was a helluva day.
Old 05-01-2017, 05:06 PM
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My grandmother's father used to dig wells and graves, and used dynamite when he hit rock. My grandmother once casually mentioned that he had buried a jar full of dynamite is a certain spot in the yard. If her memories were right, there is a jar of 60 or so year old dynamite still there (in a spot I walk by, possibly even over, pretty much every day.)
Old 05-01-2017, 06:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Bob H View Post
years ago, I owned an ancient ranch in the middle of nowhere, 200 acres with 7 cabins loaded with antiques . 8 mile dirt driveway with 6 gates to get in, impassable in winter. There were boxes of dynamite, much of it between 50-95 years old. the original owners used it to blast giant boulders that rolled into the driveway periodically. When I sold it, I had to get rid of it. An old guy who did grading all over the mountain had handled dynamite for decades. He told me it was all myth, being unstable. It takes a major blast to activate it, bare minimum good blasting caps. I didn't believe him but had hundreds of sticks to dispose of. most was covered in sweat, some stuck together, very scary to me.He came out and to prove his point, grabbed the sweatiest sticks, tore then from the bundle as I ran for a boulder to hide behind. He took two stick and snapped them in half. he said black powder is dangerous, real dynamite has to be blasted to explode. He set several up and shot them with his rifle, and his pistol. nothing happened. He started a fire and threw them in it, they just burned hotter and different color. He threw the sticks at boulders, saying the old westerns were all fake, you can only explode dynamite by shooting it if you hit a blasting cap next to the dynamite, and you don't have to worry about shaking it or it being sensitive, as he threw it around and ripped it up.
So we had some fun. There were many blasting caps. We hooked 3 sticks up to a wire and used his jeep battery to explode them. It was insanely loud. Even though we were in the middle of the wilderness, someone would hear it somewhere. We took 4 sticks and threw them in the pond and used the blasting caps. Unbelievable explosion, made a geyser, but the sound was muffled. We kept adding more, until our grand finale, with 40 sticks taped together and 3 blasting caps. We touched the leads to the battery...the ground literally shook, knocked us both off our feet, two windows shattered in the closest cabin, and the entire pond recede like slow motion, then erupted 40' into the air, raining the whole pond for thousands of yards. An old tree on the hillside fell. It was incredible. the ultimate playing with firecrackers. I went on this thread to see if the info had changed in this many years, when we did it I had no google, juts old books. Apparently the info is still misleading . He told me that was no accident, the authorities want you to report all dynamite found in old mines and sheds so they can account for it, not because it is imminently dangerous. Unless you somehow blow it up, it is pretty harmless. Thats just reality. The rest is myth. I was there, I saw it and eventually did it myself, got very comfortable with it. But I didn't leave any, as the land was being transferred into national forest, and I sure didn't want to bring any with me. But it was a helluva day.
I have personally detonated dynamite with a rifle shot. My understanding is that it needs to be at least 60% Nitro for this to work.
Old 05-01-2017, 06:37 PM
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Is everyone talking about the same HE? AIUI, there's dynamite, and there's TNT, with dynamite being the more stable.
Old 05-01-2017, 06:49 PM
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Originally Posted by kaylasdad99 View Post
Is everyone talking about the same HE? AIUI, there's dynamite, and there's TNT, with dynamite being the more stable.
No, TNT is more stable.
Old 05-01-2017, 06:53 PM
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No, TNT is more stable.
Okay, ignorance fought.

Which one has nitroglycerin capable of sweating out and crystallizing on the surface of the sticks?
Old 05-01-2017, 07:04 PM
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Originally Posted by kaylasdad99 View Post
Okay, ignorance fought.

Which one has nitroglycerin capable of sweating out and crystallizing on the surface of the sticks?
Dynamite, which is a trade name for Nitroglycerin soaked into diatomaceous earth as a stabilizer.

TNT is Trinitrotoluene, and can be used straight, or mixed with other explosives.
Old 05-02-2017, 10:28 AM
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Is everyone talking about the same HE? AIUI, there's dynamite, and there's TNT, with dynamite being the more stable.
dynamite is gelignite in British lingo.

nitroglycerine was redundant as an explosive by WW II, WW II used TNT for explosions.
Nitroglycerine was still made for use in gunpowder and smoke grenades and other uses,
but not used as the explosive in shells and the like.

In fact, TNT is made in all sorts of mixes too.

TNT is more stable and doesn't need to be soaked into sawdust or put into some sort of jelly... TNT is stable as a crystal, its not a touch powder... whereas pure nitroglycerine is easily set off by something like a touch.

So back to the OP's questions ... perhaps the OP's real situation is that the TNT is leaking and the substance is leaking or decomposing, and the fact its TNT is recognisable due to the crystals.. Its the TNT being changed. They might have called it dynamite even though they meant a more modern mix .. Well the TNT getting old and leaking and growing crystals does make it more dangerous, but its dangerous due to being TNT with a detonator somewhere there too.

Also TNT is poisonous and a carcinogen, you don't really want to be soaking it into your body.
Old 05-02-2017, 10:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
A teacher of mine in high school (no, NOT a science teacher) told us of a compound that one could paint onto the hinges of a locker, which, when dried, became extremely sensitive, such that opening the locker would blow the door off the hinges. I think that might be the same stuff, too.
Old Popular Science magazines used to have ads for how to brew your own "contact explosives".
Old 05-02-2017, 10:55 AM
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Originally Posted by billfish678 View Post
If you want another unstable as shit substance, try nitrogen tri iodide

I've played with it. Very pretty and very scary.

Though McGyver couldnt get a big bowl of it to explode in one episode...the irony there burned...
More likely ammonium triiodide as it's easier to make. If McGyver couldn't get "a big bowl" to explode, it's likely because it wasn't totally dried out. Like the other posters (and the wiki article), I'll refrain from the recipe.
Old 05-02-2017, 12:50 PM
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Okay, this leads to a new question--could the goat on Andy Griffith have exploded?
Old 05-02-2017, 12:56 PM
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I should mention, by the way, that I'm not sure if the recipe the teacher told us would work or not. But I am sure that, even if it didn't work, it'd probably still be dangerous to the one attempting the recipe, and likely to those around him (and if it did work, it'd definitely be dangerous). The same attitude should also be applied to any other recipes one might encounter for explosives or other dangerous substances: Such recipes are often shared by idiots, and are likely not to do what they're supposed to, but regardless of whether they work as intended or not, they're probably dangerous.
Old 05-02-2017, 01:45 PM
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My grandfather used dynamite to blow stumps. He had an ancient box filled with it, stored in the outhouse at the cottage in the country he built. It was lined with oilcloth, and as the years and decades went by, it started to weep liquid.

As a kid, I one watched my grandmother very carefully mop up the liquid with a sponge from off the oilcloth. Presumably, if she hadn't been careful, she could have been blown to smithereens - something I didn't know at the time, of course.

He stored the detonators separately, together with the hand generator and wires used to set them off - it was a sort of box with a crank that you turned a bunch of times to build up a charge.

Edit: I think he eventually got rid of it by burning it up on a bonfire.

Last edited by Malthus; 05-02-2017 at 01:46 PM.
Old 05-02-2017, 02:20 PM
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Okay, this leads to a new question--could the goat on Andy Griffith have exploded?
One wrong move and KABLOOIE!! Best to lure it or of town with your harmonica.
Old 05-03-2017, 10:18 PM
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dynamite is gelignite in British lingo.

.
Dynamite, diatomaceous earth as a stabilizer.

Gelignite, gelatinous stuff and more stuff and wood pulp. Major advantage is that it is less likely to sweat. Wikipedia says that it 'does not suffer from the dangerous problem of sweating'; but it still can become less stable with age: I think that part of the advantage is that what sweats out is not pure NitroGlycerine.

Do they still sell diatomaceous earth Dynamite in the USA?

And crimping detonators with your teath would have the major advantage that you'd never have to live with a hand injury......
Old 05-04-2017, 11:34 AM
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I have personally detonated dynamite with a rifle shot. My understanding is that it needs to be at least 60% Nitro for this to work.
So, Bob H is full of it, right? Everything in that wall o'text is wrong?

What IS the straight dope?
Old 05-04-2017, 12:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Just Asking Questions View Post
So, Bob H is full of it, right? Everything in that wall o'text is wrong?

What IS the straight dope?
Well, I can't disprove most of his story, but I can vouch for the fact that Dynamite (not TNT) can be detonated by a rifle shot (with no detonator attached), having done it myself.
Old 05-04-2017, 01:09 PM
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Of course, it's possible that what he actually had was TNT to begin with, not dynamite, and he just didn't realize that there was a difference. Someone following safe procedures for TNT but who's actually handling dynamite, or vice-versa, could end up in a world of hurt.
Old 05-04-2017, 02:29 PM
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If anyone's curious, I did an image search for "sweating dynamite" and found fake sweating dynamite, used for training purposes. So that's what it looks like...
Old 05-25-2017, 05:06 PM
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My story is 100% true

I still have one of the empty boxes it was in, it was Hercules Unigel Dynamite, 65% strength Tamptite Fume Class 1. And I assure you, we shot it, threw it, banged on it and broke it in pieces, and it did nothing. We used double detonators because a couple times the single detonators weren't enough to get it to explode. And we burned a lot of it, and all that did was burn brighter and smoke more. My friend said to make dynamite explode when you shoot it there has to be something like black powder or a stack of bullets attached to it so it can explode, just hitting it with a bullet won't do it. Perhaps you were shooting black powder type of explosives, like oversized M-120's, labeled as dynamite, Mexico does that a lot to sell more firecrackers. But not Unigel or other intro dynamite. Looking it up, 65% is pretty strong, but without detonators, its inert. This was at least 50-100 years old, Hercues hasn't been around for a long long time. Maybe newer dyanamite is more explosive? All I know is what I witnessed and was part of, not theory or imagination. But Im not recommending anyone play with it if they find any, thats for sure. There are many manufacturers, types, and recipes.
Old 05-26-2017, 05:05 AM
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Originally Posted by beowulff View Post
Well, I can't disprove most of his story, but I can vouch for the fact that Dynamite (not TNT) can be detonated by a rifle shot (with no detonator attached), having done it myself.

yes, I can see how a bullet can go through TNT, but there is no guarantee that the bullet won't set off TNT. There could be so way, even if Jamie and Adam said they couldn't find a way.
Old 05-26-2017, 09:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Isilder View Post
yes, I can see how a bullet can go through TNT, but there is no guarantee that the bullet won't set off TNT. There could be so way, even if Jamie and Adam said they couldn't find a way.
They shot C-4. I don't remember any shooting of dynamite or TNT.

Last edited by running coach; 05-26-2017 at 09:03 AM.
Old 05-26-2017, 10:46 AM
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call the cops and let them figure it out. For god's sake don't touch it !!!!
Old 05-26-2017, 11:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Son of a Rich View Post
Old Popular Science magazines used to have ads for how to brew your own "contact explosives".
I made some, maybe 60 years ago. Only two ingredients as I recall. One is a crystal.
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Old 05-26-2017, 09:04 PM
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Originally Posted by CalMeacham View Post
...the French film The Wages of Fear)...
Saw this in 6th grade. Amazed my heart even beats again, scene after scene.
Old 05-26-2017, 09:07 PM
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Hi Bob H. Welcome to the Dope. Great contributions.
Old 05-27-2017, 02:50 AM
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For explosive geeks, here is the US Army publication on explosives, propellants, and pyrotechnics. It's a PDF. I'll search for my copy with hot links from the table of contents. This PDF is from 1984 but there hasn't been too many updates since then.
https://ia802706.us.archive.org/0/it...explosives.pdf

Covers history, classification, manufacturing, characteristics, testing and resource recovery. Relevant to this discussion is table 8-77 on dynamite. Note that the percentage printed on the package/box no longer directly applies to the actual percentage of NG in the mixture. Amonium gelatin 60 for instance is only around 35% NG.

Note that the bullet impact tests in Appendix A are for 100% concentrations.
Old 05-27-2017, 03:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Bob H View Post
He started a fire and threw them in it, they just burned hotter and different color.
The danger is that the bulk will get hot enough so that the flame front goes faster than the speed fo sound, and the action changes from deflageration to detonation. I wouldn't be afraid of a few sticks in an open fire, but I'd leave quickly (don't walk, run) if there was more and it was packed.
Old 05-27-2017, 08:42 AM
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Originally Posted by DesertDog View Post
More likely ammonium triiodide as it's easier to make. If McGyver couldn't get "a big bowl" to explode, it's likely because it wasn't totally dried out. Like the other posters (and the wiki article), I'll refrain from the recipe.
Yeah, my dad was the class science geek in school back in the 1930's. he said they would mix up ammonium nitrate and paint a bit on the radiators. An hour or two later, it would dry out and then in the middle of class there'd be this big BANG! as the heat set it off. Or spread a little bit across the floor, and anyone walking across it would go CRACK CRACK CRACK!

I heard once from a fellow who worked in a mine that some locals would "take home" (steal) explosives from there. One product was B-line, a sort of explosive string used to set off other explosives. It was relatively safe, sometimes (!!) you could pound it and it wouldn't go off. Sometimes. Urban legend has it one idiot took a length of it home and his little girl found it, used it for a skipping rope and blew off her fingers. Moral - unless you really know - and follow - safety procedures, some things should not be messed around with. (I believe Darwin made that point too.)
Old 05-27-2017, 09:40 AM
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Here's the thing, Bob H. Suppose we take your word on it that you shot at dynamite with a rifle many times and it never went off. To be fair, then, we also must take beowulff's word that he has set it off by shooting it with a rifle. What, then, can we conclude? That dynamite shot by a rifle will go off under some circumstances and not under others, and that we don't even know what those circumstances are. And if there's one thing that's more dangerous than something that's going to explode, it's something that you don't know if it's going to explode.
Old 05-28-2017, 05:54 PM
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Originally Posted by md2000 View Post
Yeah, my dad was the class science geek in school back in the 1930's. he said they would mix up ammonium nitrate and paint a bit on the radiators. An hour or two later, it would dry out and then in the middle of class there'd be this big BANG! as the heat set it off.
So I read about this stuff in the library when I was 14, and, having picked up the keys to the chemestry store along the way, made some up. (A gentler, more simple time). As everyone knows, 'unstable when it dries out'. So I covered, stored and transported it in water.

--'Dried out' does not mean 'not wet'. When I set the beaker down, the powder detonated, spraying water and ammoniaum nitrate over me. There were purple spots on everything, and I crackled when I moved.

Last edited by Melbourne; 05-28-2017 at 05:56 PM.
Old 05-28-2017, 06:22 PM
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So whose expertise are we relying upon here?

It's fascinating that legal questions related to running a stop sign are immediately relegated to IMHO... But opinion on nitroglycerin safety is freely debated here. Seems kind of sketchy.

Mods... Just thinking out loud.
Old 05-28-2017, 07:54 PM
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reply to Chronos

Chronos; If you read the last sentence in my post of 5-25, I specifically said that I don't recommend anyone play with anything they find, especially based on my experience. There are too many types of "dynamite". The old guy I bought that ranch from had it laying around all over the place, he used to buy it from the local hardware store in Ridgecrest, as easily as buying chicken food, well over 50 years ago. And to the person who posted the RED reply, goodness gracious, call the cops!? are you serious? After 911, you tell any cop you found dynamite in a shed on your property, and expect the FBI, CIA, Homeland Security, and bomb squad knocking you to the ground, handcuffing you, and being put on a permanent watch list. I know, my son is a cop. And I would have missed out on one of the funnest days of my life without any sex involved. The only regret I have is I video taped the bigger explosions, including the 40 sticks that emptied a half acre pond and turned it into a geyser, on my old VHS recorder, and then a couple months later inadvertently recorded over it for my sons birthday party, only realizing it after trying to find it later. What I would give to find a way to retrieve the video under that video. Maybe one day that technology will exist, and someone will see what i did was real. I know it was, thats good enough for me. It will be in my next book, mentioned briefly, but isn't really germane to the storyline. My first book was published before it happened.
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