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Although both have AN and aluminium powder as their main ingredients, the main difference between Ammonal and Tannerite is that the former also has a small amount of charcoal or sometimes TNT in its composition, while the latter does not. Some Tannerite formulations may also have 5% 325-mesh titanium sponge and 5% 200-mesh zirconium hydride, as well as a few percentages of ammonium perchlorate in the ammonium nitrate. Ammonal also has a lower detonation velocity than Tannerite.
Ammonal consists of ammonium nitrate, either in powdered form or as prills and aluminium powder, in a 95:5 ratio, though in some formulations, 2.4 % powdered charcoal or sugar is added. An old ammonal composition, French ammonal, consists of 86% ammonium nitrate, 8% aluminum powder and 6% stearic acid.
If TNT is added, the resulting mixture is called T-ammonal. The composition on this version is 58.6% ammonium nitrate, 21% aluminum powder, 18% TNT, 2.4 % charcoal. Ammonal II has the composition 72% ammonium nitrate, 12% TNT, 16% Al powder. A different version, German I, has the composition 54% AN, 30% TNT and 16% Al powder.
One early ammonal composition consisted of 65% ammonium nitrate, 17% aluminium, 15% trinitrotoluene (TNT), and 3% charcoal.
Ammonal is a gray-white granular material, hygroscopic, non-flammable. When added in water, the AN will dissolve, while the aluminium and charcoal powder will not, forming an emulsion. It is stable to low impact forces like those being caused by being dropped on the floor or hit with a hammer, however strong impact forces like those from high-velocity bullets or a blasting charge will cause it to detonate. Traces of metallic copper will increase its sensitivity, and may explode if heated with a flame. The detonation velocity of ammonal is approximately 4,400 m/s.
Ammonal is sold by a few companies, in the form of blasting sticks, usually for mining. An explosive permit is required to buy it.
The production, transport and use of Ammonal without a special permit is highly illegal.
- Mining and blasting rocks apart
- Explosions in weaponry demonstrations
Handling and storage
Ammonal is an explosive material and must be handled with extreme care.
Safely detonating it in a special or remote area. As it does not explode when burned, it can also be neutralized via controlled incineration.