Explosions do not commonly occur in nature


General Theory

Explosion Catagories

Low Explosives

High Explosives



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Noise IS Everything

Compiled Theory

General Explosion Theory

While explosives can be made simply by following instructions found online, it is generally a good idea to know what is actually going on.


First off, let’s get the definition down. An explosive material is material that is either extremely unstable, or extremely reactive. It normally produces a sudden expansion of material, usually gas, accompanied by heat and change in pressure. It may be surprising to learn that explosives have less potential energy when compared against petroleum fuels. The difference is rate of energy release. Explosives, such as TNT can travel at almost 7 km/s, whereas an optimal pentane/air mixture travels at less than 2 km/s and combustion fuels travel at .4 m/s.


Explosives can be made up of many different materials. Some are pure compounds that are simply reactive in their pure form. Others are oxidizers and fuel mixed together. However, most explosives even when used pure, are actually mixed with other materials that provide stability or ease of handling. Some explosives are sensitive to shock, and mixing it with a desensitizer makes them much safer.

An explosion can be aided with initiators and sensitizers. Initiators are materials that can provide the key amount of shock or heat to set off the chain reaction. Sensitizers promote the propagation of the explosion front.
An interesting sub-category of explosives are ones called “binary explosives.” This is an explosive that contains two components. When each is taken separately, they are inert. When mixed together, they become an explosive.


What people need to remember when they dabble in explosives, is safety. Sure, people say they'll "be careful." With explosives, safety comes before making the thing explode. If you set it up and it doesn't explode, thats just a small failure. If you set it up and it explodes in your face, thats just FAIL.

First off, you NEVER drop an ignition element into the explosive. An example of this, would be standing over a pile of thermite and dropping a piece of lit magnesium. You can delude yourself that you can be fast enough and run far enough that you won't get hurt. But, be honest, if the thermite reacts the moment that piece drops, you could be running away with a nice piece of steel on your leg. Whenever possible, (meaning ALWAYS) you leave yourself with a detonation cord. This could be a stick of magnesium that is stuck in the pile of thermite thats long enough to let you light it and run far away, or it could be real ignition cord.

Ignition cord, is used for non-electrical detonations. Its simply black powder wrapped in cloth or plastic. You light it and the fuse travels at a preset speed. For many explosive materials, simply plugging this into your explosive, laying it down, light it when you are far away is sufficient. Some require an electrical detonation, but those are a tad bit more complicated.

When you observe an explosion, you have to be cautious about 3 main things.

First, cover. Will you be in sufficient cover that the explosion will not rip you apart (Game Over), throw shrapnel all over you (Game Over) or in some other way incapacitate you. If you plan on going very far in this, a small investment in plexiglass is quite nice.

Second, fire. If you had planned on doing an explosion where there is firewood and other dry, flammable materials nearby, please, stop reading this site now. Those of you who are left, fire does not only apply to wood and branches. Again, take our favorite material, thermite. It fuses sand into glass. If you burn this stuff on pavement, prepare to have a small hole there. If you burn this on the beach, you get a nice little glass crater. You have to be careful for everything thats near the explosive.

Finally, light and sound. Please for the sake of your eyesight, do a little bit of looking around to see how bright the thing will be. An ounce of thermite lit up the lakeside we did our experiment at. It was bright. If you had looked into the bright light, you would have either damaged your eyesight or gone blind. Sound is the same, you can blow out your eardrums or damage your hearing. A nice "tip", and by that I mean its almost mandatory, you should get goggles and ear plugs.