* R.D.X.
* T.N.T.

High order explosives can be made in the home without too much difficulty. The main problem is acquiring the nitric acid to produce the high explosive. Most high explosives detonate because their molecular structure is made up of some fuel and usually three or more NO2 ( nitrogen dioxide ) molecules. T.N.T., or Tri-Nitro-Toluene is an excellent example of such a material. When a shock wave passes through an molecule of T.N.T., the nitrogen dioxide bond is broken, and the oxygen combines with the fuel, all in a matter of microseconds. This accounts for the great power of nitrogen-based explosives. Remembering that these procedures are NEVER TO BE CARRIED OUT, several methods of manufacturing high-order explosives in the home are listed.

3.31 R.D.X.

R.D.X., also called cyclonite, or composition C-1 (when mixed with plasticisers) is one of the most valuable of all military explosives. This is because it has more than 150% of the power of T.N.T., and is much easier to detonate. It should not be used alone, since it can be set off by a not-too severe shock. It is less sensitive than mercury fulminate, or nitroglycerine, but it is still too sensitive to be used alone. R.D.X. can be made by the surprisingly simple method outlined hereafter. It is much easier to make in the home than all other high explosives, with the possible exception of ammonium nitrate.


* hexamine or methenamine fuel tablets (50 g)
* concentrated nitric acid (550 ml)
* distilled water
* table salt
* ice
* ammonium nitrate


* 500 ml beaker
* glass stirring rod
* funnel and filter paper
* ice bath container (plastic bucket)
* centigrade thermometer
* blue litmus paper

1. Place the beaker in the ice bath, (see section 3.13, steps 3-4) and carefully pour 550 ml of concentrated nitric acid into the beaker.
2. When the acid has cooled to below 20 degrees centigrade, add small amounts of the crushed fuel tablets to the beaker. The temperature will rise, and it must be kept below 30 degrees centigrade, or dire consequences could result. Stir the mixture.
3. Drop the temperature below zero degrees centigrade, either by adding more ice and salt to the old ice bath, or by creating a new ice bath. Or, ammonium nitrate could be added to the old ice bath, since it becomes cold when it is put in water. Continue stirring the mixture, keeping the temperature below zero degrees centigrade for at least twenty minutes
4. Pour the mixture into a litre of crushed ice. Shake and stir the mixture, and allow it to melt. Once it has melted, filter out the crystals, and dispose of the corrosive liquid.
5. Place the crystals into one half a litre of boiling distilled water. Filter the crystals, and test them with the blue litmus paper. Repeat steps 4 and 5 until the litmus paper remains blue. This will make the crystals more stable and safe.
6. Store the crystals wet until ready for use. Allow them to dry completely using them. R.D.X. is not stable enough to use alone as an explosive.
7. Composition C-1 can be made by mixing 88.3% R.D.X. (by weight) with 11.1% mineral oil, and 0.6% lecithin. Kneed these material together in a plastic bag. This is a good way to desensitize the explosive.
8. H.M.X. is a mixture of T.N.T. and R.D.X.; the ratio is 50/50, by weight. it is not as sensitive, and is almost as powerful as straight R.D.X.
9. By adding ammonium nitrate to the crystals of R.D.X. after step 5, it should be possible to desensitize the R.D.X. and increase its power, since ammonium nitrate is very insensitive and powerful. Soduim or potassium nitrate could also be added; a small quantity is sufficient to stabilize the R.D.X.
10. R.D.X. detonates at a rate of 8550 meters/second when it is compressed to a density of 1.55 g/cubic cm.


Ammonium nitrate could be made by a terrorist according to the hap- hazard method in section 2.33, or it could be stolen from a construction site, since it is usually used in blasting, because it is very stable and insensitive to shock and heat. A terrorist could also buy several Instant Cold-Paks from a drug store or medical supply store. The major disadvantage with ammonium nitrate, from a terrorist's point of view, would be detonating it. A rather powerful priming charge must be used, and usually with a booster charge. The diagram below will explain.
| | |
________| | |
| | T.N.T.| ammonium nitrate |
|primer |booster| |
|_______| | |
| | |

The primer explodes, detonating the T.N.T., which detonates, sending a tremendous shockwave through the ammonium nitrate, detonating it.

3.33 ANFOS

ANFO is an acronym for Ammonium Nitrate - Fuel Oil Solution. An ANFO solves the only other major problem with ammonium nitrate: its tendency to pick up water vapor from the air. This results in the explosive failing to detonate when such an attempt is made. This is rectified by mixing 94% (by weight) ammonium nitrate with 6% fuel oil, or kerosene. The kerosene keeps the ammonium nitrate from absorbing moisture from the air. An ANFO also requires a large shockwave to set it off.

3.34 T.N.T.

T.N.T., or Tri-Nitro-Toluene, is perhaps the second oldest known high explosive. Dynamite, of course, was the first. It is certainly the best known high explosive, since it has been popularized by early morning cartoons. It is the standard for comparing other explosives to, since it is the most well known. In industry, a T.N.T. is made by a three step nitration process that is designed to conserve the nitric and sulfuric acids which are used to make the product. A terrorist, however, would probably opt for the less economical one step method. The one step process is performed by treating toluene with very strong (fuming) sulfuric acid. Then, the sulfated toluene is treated with very strong (fuming) nitric acid in an ice bath. Cold water is added the solution, and it is filtered.


Potassium chlorate itself cannot be made in the home, but it can be obtained from labs. If potassium chlorate is mixed with a small amount of vaseline, or other petroleum jelly, and a shockwave is passed through it, the material will detonate with slightly more power than black powder. It must, however, be confined to detonate it in this manner. The procedure for making such an explosive is outlined below:


* potassium chlorate (9 parts, by volume)
* petroleum jelly (vaseline) (1 part, by volume)


* zip-lock plastic bag
* clay grinding bowl or wooden bowl and wooden spoon

1. Grind the potassium chlorate in the grinding bowl carefully and slowly, until the potassium chlorate is a very fine powder. The finer that it is powdered, the faster (better) it will detonate.
2. Place the powder into the plastic bag. Put the petroleum jelly into the plastic bag, getting as little on the sides of the bag as possible, i.e. put the vaseline on the potassium chlorate powder.
3. Close the bag, and kneed the materials together until none of the potassium chlorate is dry powder that does not stick to the main glob. If necessary, add a bit more petroleum jelly to the bag.
4. The material must me used within 24 hours, or the mixture will react to greatly reduce the effectiveness of the explosive. This reaction, however, is harmless, and releases no heat or dangerous products.


The name dynamite comes from the Greek word "dynamis", meaning power. Dynamite was invented by Nobel shortly after he made nitroglycerine. It was made because nitroglycerine was so dangerously sensitive to shock. A misguided individual with some sanity would, after making nitroglycerine (an insane act) would immediately convert it to dynamite. This can be done by adding various materials to the nitroglycerine, such as sawdust. The sawdust holds a large weight of nitroglycerine per volume. Other materials, such as ammonium nitrate could be added, and they would tend to desensitize the explosive, and increase the power. But even these nitroglycerine compounds are not really safe.


Nitrostarch explosives are simple to make, and are fairly powerful. All that need be done is treat various starches with a mixture of concentrated nitric and sulfuric acids. 10 ml of concentrated sulfuric acid is added to 10 ml of concentrated nitric acid. To this mixture is added 0.5 grams of starch. Cold water is added, and the apparently unchanged nitrostarch is filtered out. Nitrostarch explosives are of slightly lower power than T.N.T., but they are more readily detonated.


Picric acid, also known as Tri-Nitro-Phenol, or T.N.P., is a military explosive that is most often used as a booster charge to set off another less sensitive explosive, such as T.N.T. It another explosive that is fairly simple to make, assuming that one can acquire the concentrated sulfuric and nitric acids. Its procedure for manufacture is given in many college chemistry lab manuals, and is easy to follow. The main problem with picric acid is its tendency to form dangerously sensitive and unstable picrate salts, such as potassium picrate. For this reason, it is usually made into a safer form, such as ammonium picrate, also called explosive D. A social deviant would probably use a formula similar to the one presented here to make picric acid.


* phenol (9.5 g)
* concentrated sulfuric acid (12.5 ml)
* concentrated nitric acid (38 ml)
* distilled water


* 500 ml flask
* adjustable heat source
* 1000 ml beaker or other container suitable for boiling in
* filter paper and funnel
* glass stirring rod

1. Place 9.5 grams of phenol into the 500 ml flask, and carefully add 12.5 ml of concentrated sulfuric acid and stir the mixture.
2. Put 400 ml of tap water into the 1000 ml beaker or boiling container and bring the water to a gentle boil.
3. After warming the 500 ml flask under hot tap water, place it in the boiling water, and continue to stir the mixture of phenol and acid for about thirty minutes. After thirty minutes, take the flask out, and allow it to cool for about five minutes.
4. Pour out the boiling water used above, and after allowing the container to cool, use it to create an ice bath, similar to the one used in section 3.13, steps 3-4. Place the 500 ml flask with the mixed acid an phenol in the ice bath. Add 38 ml of concentrated nitric acid in small amounts, stirring the mixture constantly. A vigorous but "harmless" reaction should occur. When the mixture stops reacting vigorously, take the flask out of the ice bath.
5. Warm the ice bath container, if it is glass, and then begin boiling more tap water. Place the flask containing the mixture in the boiling water, and heat it in the boiling water for 1.5 to 2 hours.
6. Add 100 ml of cold distilled water to the solution, and chill it in an ice bath until it is cold.
7. Filter out the yellowish-white picric acid crystals by pouring the solution through the filter paper in the funnel. Collect the liquid and dispose of it in a safe place, since it is corrosive.
8. Wash out the 500 ml flask with distilled water, and put the contents of the filter paper in the flask. Add 300 ml of water, and shake vigorously.
9. Re-filter the crystals, and allow them to dry.
10. Store the crystals in a safe place in a glass container, since they will react with metal containers to produce picrates that could explode spontaneously.


Ammonium picrate, also called Explosive D, is another safety explosive. It requires a substantial shock to cause it to detonate, slightly less than that required to detonate ammonium nitrate. It is much safer than picric acid, since it has little tendency to form hazardous unstable salts when placed in metal containers. It is simple to make from picric acid and clear household ammonia. All that need be done is put the picric acid crystals into a glass container and dissolve them in a great quantity of hot water. Add clear household ammonia in excess, and allow the excess ammonia to evaporate. The powder remaining should be ammonium picrate.


Nitrogen trichloride, also known as chloride of azode, is an oily yellow liquid. It explodes violently when it is heated above 60 degrees celsius, or when it comes in contact with an open flame or spark. It is fairly simple to produce.
1. In a beaker, dissolve about 5 teaspoons of ammonium nitrate in water. Do not put so much ammonium nitrate into the solution that some of it remains undissolved in the bottom of the beaker.
2. Collect a quantity of chlorine gas in a second beaker by mixing hydrochloric acid with potassium permanganate in a large flask with a stopper and glass pipe.
3. Place the beaker containing the chlorine gas upside down on top of the beaker containing the ammonium nitrate solution, and tape the beakers together. Gently heat the bottom beaker. When this is done, oily yellow droplets will begin to form on the surface of the solution, and sink down to the bottom. At this time, remove the heat source immediately. Alternately, the chlorine can be bubbled through the ammonium nitrate solution, rather than collecting the gas in a beaker, but this requires timing and a stand to hold the beaker and test tube. The chlorine gas can also be mixed with anhydrous ammonia gas, by gently heating a flask filled with clear household ammonia. Place the glass tubes from the chlorine-generating flask and the tube from the ammonia-generating flask in another flask that contains water.
4. Collect the yellow droplets with an eyedropper, and use them immediately, since nitrogen trichloride decomposes in 24 hours.


Lead Azide is a material that is often used as a booster charge for other explosive, but it does well enough on its own as a fairly sensitive explosive. It does not detonate too easily by percussion or impact, but it is easily detonated by heat from an igniter wire, or a blasting cap. It is simple to produce, assuming that the necessary chemicals can be procured. By dissolving sodium azide and lead acetate in water in separate beakers, the two materials are put into an aqueous state. Mix the two beakers together, and apply a gentle heat. Add an excess of the lead acetate solution, until no reaction occurs, and the precipitate on the bottom of the beaker stops forming. Filter off the solution, and wash the precipitate in hot water. The precipitate is lead azide, and it must be stored wet for safety. If lead acetate cannot be found, simply acquire acetic acid, and put lead metal in it. Black powder bullets work well for this purpose.

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