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Author: Subject: armstrong's deadly brew K chlorate & red phosphorus
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[*] posted on 15-4-2010 at 18:49
armstrong's deadly brew K chlorate & red phosphorus


CHEMICAL EXPLOSION INJURES 6 IN SUBWAY
New York Times, October 15, 1946.


A test tube containing red phosphorus and potassium chlorate was jarred from the hand of John Grass, 14 years old, or 102-40 Alstyne Street, Corona, Queens, at 4:38 P. M. yesterday as he sat in a sparsely occupied BMT train pulling into the Queens Plaza terminal, in Long Island City. It struck the concrete floor and exploded and the boy and five other passengers were hurt and windows in the train were shattered.

The accident brought the police, fire apparatus and ambulances to the crowded station, but the excitement subsided quickly when it became apparent that on one had been hurt seriously. Young Glass was taken to St. John’s Hospital, were a part of his right index finger was amputated. The others were treated at the scene and sent home.

The youth, a high school freshman and amateur chemistry enthusiast, told the police: “I’m through playing with firecrackers. That was the first I made and the last.


PRE-'JULY 4 BLAST MAIMS TWO BOYS
Two More Are Burned When Explosive They Had Made Goes Off PrematurelyONE BLINDED, LOSES HANDSFifth Lad Is Injured Here While Trying to Make a Similar CompoundNew York Times, June 27, 1937

Experiments with highly explosive chemicals preparatory to celebrating the Fourth of July in adequate fashion caused serious injuries to three Jamaica
youths and painful burns to two others yesterday afternoon and early last night.

Four of the boys, one of them a student of chemistry, had reached what they believed to be the point of perfection in the mixture of the chemicals and were about to blast a tree stump in a vacant lot fifty feet south of the Grand Central Parkway at 166th Street when the chemicals exploded. The hands of one boy were cut off, another lost his left hand and the two others were felled.

List of Injured

The Injured in this blast are:

Janson, Maurice. 17, of 150-14 Grand Central Parkway, in Queens Genera Hospital with both hands amputated and burns of the eyes. His condition
is serious.

Cooper, John, 16, of 161-18 Eighty-fourth Road, Jamaica, amputation of left hand; condition serious.

Williams, Irving. 16. of 84-30 164th Street, Jamaica, burns of face, chest andeyes; condition serious. Klein, Charles, 11, of 164-16 Grand Central Parkway, chest lacerations; not serious, went home.

The fifth boy is EImer Bogert, 16, of 82-64 165th Street, Jamaica, who was injured in the cellar of his home during the afternoon by chemicals similar to those used by the others, the police said. His left hand was injured and he suffered burns of the face and abdomen. He also is in Queens General Hospital.

Attempted to Load Pipe

The explosion in the lot occurred at 6 o'clock when the boys were attempting to load a 5 foot 3/4-inch pipe with sodium nitrate, potassium chlorate and red phosphorus. They were hammering the compound into the pipe when the blast knocked them several feet. Six passing motorists on the parkway stopped after hearing the explosion, they saw Cooper and Williams running toward them. The boys, both in serious condition, were rushed to the hospital. After they told their story an ambulance was sent to the scene.

Dr. Paul Egidio, ambulance surgeon, found Janson writhing on the ground. Both his hands had been blown off and he was blinded by the blast. Klein had run home and was treated there.

Policemen of the Bomb Squad are investigating a report that the boys
purchased the chemicals from a Manhattan concern during the week and had experimented for the last few days.


STUDENT LOOSED HANDS IN BLAST AT RUTGERS
New York Times, May 6, 1949

NEW BRUNSWICK, N. J., May 5—An 18-year-old freshman lost both hands and two other class-mates of the same age received burns today in an explosion resulting from an unauthorized chemical experiment in a University Heights laboratory at Rutgers University.

A spokesman for the university identified the injured students as Anthony J. Iannarone of 19 Tremont Avenue, Belleville, N. J.; Walter Wnek Jr. of 205 La
Rue Street, Philadelphia, and John H , Austin of 422 Morgan Avenue, Palmyra, N. J. In addition to losing both hands the Iannarone youth received possible chest injuries. He was removed to St. Peter's Hospital here, where his condition was listed as fair.

The Wnek boy suffered burns on his right elbow and cuts on his face and the Austin youth burns on his left arm. Both were treated at the infirmary and
released.

As reconstructed by college officials, the trio were members of a freshman chemistry class of thirty students that had started soon after 1 P. M. At 3:30 P. M., when the regular session was over, the instructor left the room, In his absence the lannarone boy used four chemicals left over from a previous experiment--red phosphorus, dry shellac, magnesium and potassium
chlorate,--and combined them in a paper cup. When a second paper cup was put over the mixture in his hand the explosion occurred.

lannarone is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Anthony P. T. Iannarone of the Belleville address. His father is a postal clerk. A chemistry major, the injured student was graduated thirty-fifth in a class of 239 from Belleville High School last year.

In 1953 a boy was filling a small metal tube with a potassium chlorate sulphur mixture when it exploded, resulting in lacerations to his left hand. Arrangements were made for the police to caution him while a parent was present. Unfortunately he paid little attention to the warning and, some months later, assisted another boy to tamp a piece of metal pipe with a mixture of potassium chlorate, sulphur and phosphorus. A piece of metal was being used to fill the tube when the mixture exploded. The boy was so seriously injured that he died some time later.


H.J. Yellop, Explosion Investigation.
The Forensic Science Society, 1980.

In 1953 a boy was filling a small metal tube with a potassium chlorate sulphur mixture when it exploded, resulting in lacerations to his left hand. Arrangements were made for the police to caution him while a parent was present. Unfortunately he paid little attention to the warning and, some months later, assisted another boy to tamp a piece of metal pipe with a mixture of potassium chlorate, sulphur and phosphorus. A piece of metal was being used to fill the tube when the mixture exploded. The boy was so seriously injured that he died some time later.

In 1956 a boy aged 14 was making a bomb with potassium chlorate and sulphur. It exploded and caused such severe injuries to his hand that this had to be amputated. The police removed the chemicals he had been using. The boy's father, however, requested their return so as to enable his son to continue his experiments when he came out of hospital.


Injured by an Explosion
New York Times, 5 October 1882.

Charles Laik, 34 years old a poor German drug store clerk, was seriously injured yesterday at No. 181 Allen-street, while attempting to make a preparation for manufacturing matches.

While mixing chlorate of potash and phosphorus in a china mortar without using the oil necessary a violent explosion occurred. The mortar and pestle were shattered, portions entering his side. His right hand was burned and lacerated and the bones were broken and his face and neck were burned. His wife, who was standing near him, was thrown down and bruised and her left hand was cut. An ambulance took him to the Chambers-Street Hospital and it may be necessary to amputate his hand.

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[*] posted on 15-4-2010 at 18:57


WTF? You posted this same exact thing in a thread earlier...

Dude I don't mind and im not one to normaly complain about post such as this like others have been but....WTF are you just trying to troll or what?





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[*] posted on 15-4-2010 at 22:06


I do not see the material posted here repeated in another thread. I do not know if The WiZard Is In is really Donald J Haarmann or if he just has the style. Either way I enjoy his postings and I hope that he can feel welcome here. I do not feel that starting a new thread for a new topic is too much, even if one poster comes up with several topics per day, though I wouldn't want a new thread for each new post on a related topic. This goes doubly because the search interface is poor for long threads.

Normally I wouldn't express an opinion in public but I fear the Wiz may be chased off over mere stylistic differences!




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[*] posted on 15-4-2010 at 22:16


I agree with Polverone on this. The posts from The Wizzard may be odd, but they are interesting and informative.
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[*] posted on 16-4-2010 at 00:00


Who deleted the previous thread ? It disappeared yesterday just when I replied to it ...
==> Please no more Thread-Gestapo here: Censorship with some 9/11 comments in the thermite-melting-Thread is not all right as well: A Forum is a place where people can talk, without someone policing them ... :cool:

One otherwise might think the CIA or whoever runs this forum, just to get to the information about the people ... and as a side-effect keeps the "political correctness" up ...

===========================

About the chlorate: Maybe it even detonates by itself ...: Someone with experience might grow larger crystals (several cm) and then try to set them off with a initial charge ...
==> Through a single crystal the shockwave could run undisturbed, this thereby could be set off easier than a powder ..., if that would be possible ...



[Edited on 16-4-2010 by chief]
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[*] posted on 16-4-2010 at 03:48


Quote: Originally posted by Sedit  
WTF? You posted this same exact thing in a thread earlier...

Dude I don't mind and im not one to normaly complain about post such as this like others have been but....WTF are you just trying to troll or what?



I accidentally posted this to another thread. Deleted it there
and re-posted it here.
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[*] posted on 16-4-2010 at 03:53


Quote: Originally posted by chief  


About the chlorate: Maybe it even detonates by itself ...: Someone with experience might grow larger crystals (several cm) and then try to set them off with a initial charge ...
==> Through a single crystal the shockwave could run undisturbed, this thereby could be set off easier than a powder ..., if that would be possible ...
[Edited on 16-4-2010 by chief]



Extracted from —

PGI Bulletin No. 41, March, 1984
SAFETY OF COPPER/BRASS SCREENS WITH CHLORATE
COMPOSITIONS
by The WiZ (donald j haarmann)
(The following article was in response to Ed Raszkowski's Question in PGI
Bulletin No. 38.)

Dr. McLain and Donald Lewis; Effects of Phase Change in Solid-Solid
Reactions-1966, [my copy courtesy of E.R.], determined that when a mixture
of potassium chlorate was doped with copper chlorate, and then ground with
purified sulfur [a brave move], the mixture detonated spontaneously after
being let stand undisturbed on a shelf for only thirty minutes! The
experiment was repeated using the same components, simply placed in a plastic
vial and mixed by "tumbling the vial approximately ten minutes about its major
axes." After approximately twenty-four hours of standing behind a barricade,
a similar detonation occurred. [A less complete discussion of this work is
reported in Dr. Milan’s book; pg. 78.]

They concluded as a result of these experiments that; "Aside from the
spectacular, the finding that a potassium chlorate could be made which when
mixed with sulfur is spontaneously detonable at room temperature there is
a byproduct(s) of this experiment."


That said ... other than heating (I'll post the refs latter)
I doubt KClO3 can will detonate by its self.
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[*] posted on 16-4-2010 at 04:01


Quote: Originally posted by chief  


About the chlorate: Maybe it even detonates by itself ...: Someone with experience might grow larger crystals (several cm) and then try to set them off with a initial charge ...
==> Through a single crystal the shockwave could run undisturbed, this thereby could be set off easier than a powder ..., if that would be possible ...
[Edited on 16-4-2010 by chief]



THE EXPLOSION OF POTASSIUM CHLORATE
By HEAT.
BY A. Dupré., PhD., F.R.S.
Journal of The Society of Chemical Industry
21 [4] 217-219. February 28, 1902.

After numerous experiments, Col. Ford and myself came to the conclusion that
the St. Helen's disaster was due to the explosive decomposition of the potassium
chlorate in the store, brought about by the intense heat produced by the burning
of the wooden casks containing it. The experiment which finally led us to this
conclusion was the explosion of a bead of chlorate, attached to a thin platinum
wire, when introduced into a flame. The flames I had actually used in my
experiments were the outer portions of a bunsen flame and of an ordinary gas
blowpipe. Col. Ford being out of town, but wishing to see the experiment himself,
I, perhaps unfortunately, told him to put the bead into the blue part of an ordinary
gas flame.

Some time afterwards, M. M. Berthelot, in a paper published in the Comptes
Rend., Dec. 4, 1899, p. 926, took exception to our explanation on the ground that
the explosion of the bead was not, as I had assumed, brought about by heat
merely, but was due to, or at least assisted by, the combustible gas present in
the flame.

As far as I understand M. Berthelot's explanation, the explosion at St. Helen's
was brought about by the combustion of the wood in immediate contact with the
chlorate whereby the heat of combustion was directly added to the heat of
dissociation, the combined effect being the raising of part of the chlorate to the
explosion point. How far, if at all, M. Berthelot, would have altered his opinion, as
to the bearing of the experiment with the chlorate bead, had he known that the
original experiments were made with a bunsen and gas blowpipe, I do not know,
but, from my point of view, it is perfectly immaterial which alternative is adopted.
Both explanations assume that some of the chlorate itself; that is, chlorate
unmixed with any combustible, exploded. The main difference, it seems to me,
between the two explanations is that we left the manner in which the heat was
communicated to the chlorate an open question, while M. Berthelot endeavours
to supply this deficiency. As far as the Sr. Helen's explosion is concerned, the
main point is, Was some of the chlorate exploded by heat or was it not? and on
this both explanations agree.

Before the action against the Alkali Company had been tried, I abstained from
any further experiments, as I was very anxious to avoid even the semblance of
partisanship. As soon, however, us the trial was over, I resumed may
experiments, but have been unable to bring the matter forward before now. My
first experiments were on the lines already described, but using an oxygen
blowpipe in place of the ordinary. air blowpipe. I found that, even when using an
enormous excess of oxygen, the bead exploded, if anything even more readily
than in the gas flame.

Since, however, anything coming from M. Berthelot, especially on such a
subject, naturally requires the highest consideration, I went a step further, and
avoiding all flames, heated my wire by means of an electric current, and still the
bead exploded.

As the exact method of proceeding is a matter of some importance. I will
describe it a little more fully. A moderately stout platinum wire (about 0.02 in.
thick) was bent into a loop, but without letting the wires touch where they
crossed. This wire was attached to stout copper
conductors and heated by an electric current so as to destroy any combustible
matter that might be adhering to it. A small piece of potassium chlorate, fused
just previously, was then placed on the loop, and the wire gently heated by the
current to melt the chlorate. The temperature of the wire was then suddenly
raised by increasing the strength of the current, when, after a few seconds, the
chlorate utmost invariably exploded. It is, however, important to have the wire
perfectly clean, as any chloride which may be adhering to it from a previous
experiment seriously interferes with the success of the succeeding one. It is,
therefore, necessary always to heat the wire by the current until all chloride had
been volatilised before proceeding with another experiment. In several of the
experiments the platinum wire was surrounded by an atmosphere of pure
oxygen. The explosion of the chlorate in this manner is as marked as it is in the
gas flame. Indeed, I have not been able to observe any appreciable difference in
the readiness with which the chlorate explodes, whatever the manner of heating.

There can, therefore, he no doubt that pure potassium chlorate can be exploded,
in the open, by heat alone. All that is necessary to bring about this result is to
heat the chlorate rapidly so that it may reach the exploding point before too much
of it has been decomposed.

I hope, at some future time, to bring the whole subject of the St. Helen's
explosion before the members of this society. To-day I will confine myself to the
following remark, concerning it.

In considering this subject it must be borne is mind that the explosion was one of
the character of a gunpowder explosion, not a detonation such as would be
produced by dynamite or picric acid. {It is interesting to note that equal weights of
gunpowder and potassium chlorate, on decomposition, produce practically equal
volumes of gas.} That is, stated shortly, it was characterised by relatively small
local effects, combined with very considerable effects at a distance. For example,
although the floor of the store consisted of only one course of brick, set in mortar
or cement, and was laid on a layer of sand about a foot thick, spread on the top
of an old alkali waste heap, by no means a firm foundation, yet this floor was not
broken through, or even seriously disturbed any place. The whole floor had
indeed been pressed down, in some places several feet, but no distinct crater
had been formed. The bricks of the building itself had been scattered, but. not
much broken, still less pulverised. The trajectory described by the bricks proved
that the explosion had taken place on, or near, the floor, that is in the most
favourable position to form a crater.

Discussion

The CHAIRMAN said that any statement which came from Dr. Dupré, on a
question of this kind was entitled to the greatest respect. The ingenious
experiment which he had devised was an important addition to their knowledge.

Mr. OSCAR GUTTERMANN, after expressing regret that Dr. Dupré was not
present, said he held no brief for Prof. Berthelot, but he had with him the original
of his article, which spoke for itself, and he thought showed that Dr. Dupré had
misread Berthelot’s statements. He did not think M. Berthelot disputed Dr.
Dupré's statements in the list; as a matter of fact, he said distinctly that an
explosion of chlorate of potash could take place in the open by heat alone. The
original passage is in translation as follows I have recognised that one can
detonate it (chlorate of potash) under ordinary pressure in an open vessel and an
inert gas by operating according to a method or rather a principle which I
announced a long time ago as applicable in general to the reactions of
exothermic systems." Again he said, " It is quite sufficient to place the chlorate
suddenly into an enclosure previously brought and kept at a temperature much
higher than that at which decomposition begins in order to get an explosion." He
further explained in the same article the mode by which chlorate of potash could
be exploded in the open by heat alone. He had no doubt that this experiment was
at least suggested by what Dr. Dupré had done at the time of making his report.
Berthelot took a glass tube, heated it below redness, then took a glass rod,
dipped it in molten chlorate, and put it into the glass tube about 10 mm. away
from the bottom. The hot melted chlorate dropped off, and every drop that fell
exploded, but the explosion was not communicated to the chlorate on the glass
rod. That was certainly in the absence of a carbonaceous flame. He concluded
by saying the explosion at St. Helen's seemed to have realised on a huge scale
the conditions he had described, but it seemed also to have been facilitated by
the combustion of the wood barrels, as is the case by the flame of a combustible
gas. It seemed clear, therefore, that Dr. Dupré was under a misapprehension in
thinking that M. Berthelot attributed to him something which was not correct. He
did not know what had caused the misapprehension on Dr. Dupré’s part,
because Berthelot stated quite frankly that he thought chlorate of potash could be
exploded by itself, though he did not think the explosion at St. Helen's was due to
beat alone. He was glad Dr. Dupré had promised to give a further paper dealing
with the St. Helen's explosion, as that would relieve him of a task which he had
intended to take upon himself, though with some reluctance. He would, therefore,
not say more now about that occurrence except this, that there you had a
magazine in which there were tiers of casks of chlorate of potash piled up eight
and thirteen high, weighing about 2 cwt. each. One side burnt fiercely down to
the ground and the chlorate in a molten state ran over the brick floor. The fire
was communicated to the tier on the opposite side, and fired it from bellow. What
more natural than that if the lowest row of barrels burnt, the whole would collapse
and would fall with a series of violent blows on to the brick floor where the molten
chlorate was. He believed that the intense white beat contributed, if not entirely,
certainly 99 per cent. to the explosion, but there was that incentive, that priming
of the blow on carbonaceous and probably charred matter mixed with chlorate
which must have brought about the explosion, and as Berthelot himself said,
even a small particle of carbonaceous matter would no doubt assist such an
explosion. That was his contention on which he based his experiment in which he
succeeded in showing that molten chlorate could be exploded on a hot brick with
a broomstick.

Mr. J. W. K KYANSTON said he was sorry to have to disagree with the
conclusions come to by Dr. Dupré, but he could not accept the statement that
chlorate of potash per se was explosive under any circumstances whatever, and
he spoke after great experience in its manufacture and as a chemist engaged in
the study of it. The circumstances of the explosion were not explainable be the
theory of Dr. Dupré or by that of Mr. Guttmann. Dr. Dupré's statement in the
report was that a quantity of five tons of chlorate must hate been heated up to the
point at which it was caused to explode, but he did not believe that was possible.
One must. bear in mind that in the first instance the chlorate melted; as soon as it
melted it spread itself about on the floor, it did not remain in one place where it
could be heated up to the very high temperature suggested. Besides that, the
experiments which had been tried with a view to ascertain whether chlorate of
potash was explosive or not, had been to his mind conclusive. He might mention
one, where the chlorate was heated under varying conditions in contact with
thermit, a compound of aluminium metal and ferric oxide in fine powder, which in
its reaction when set fire to gave a temperature estimated to be 3,000o C., or
about the temperature of the electric arc. Chlorate of potash had been repeatedly
treated at that temperature without any trace of explosion. They simply got a puff
of the gas which did not exceed in violence or intensity that which they got by
heating it over a lamp in an open crucible. That seemed to him conclusive. If it
were once accepted that chlorate of potash was explodable by itself it would
throw a difficulty in the way of manufacturers which they ought not to he
subjected to unless the case were perfectly clear. It had to pass through the
hands of dealers, consumers, and others, and if there was a danger of explosion
under any circumstances whatever it threw great difficulties in the way of dealing
with it. His own explanation of the genesis of the explosion was this : there was
in that store 156 tons of chlorate of potash, about 55 or 60 tons on one side of
the central passage, and over 90 tons on the other; the 60 ton pile undoubtedly
was seen to burn away, having taken fire at the top. The fire traveled gradually
down through the casks and the whole mass of chlorate and the wood at any rate
was burnt. When the first lot was burnt through, naturally a large quantity of it
melted and ran over the floor of the building. No doubt it ran underneath the pile
if casks of the opposite side and in all probability started the fire from the bottom
instead of from the top. It was pretty certain that the barrels them-selves must
have taken fire from the intense heat of the building, but would burn mute fiercely
at the bottom where they were in contact with the layer of melted chlorate of
potash. The only explanation consistent with all the circumstances was that the
bottom rows of barrels were consumed and gate tray and then the whole mass
fell, probably with great violence, to the bottom, and the quantity of carbon
in that mass was over five tons. The whole of those barrels were in a charred
condition outside, and he believed that when this fall took place, by the attrition
caused by the rapid fall, a large quantity of carbon dust was produced which blew
into the atmosphere of oxygen which surrounded it. If that were admitted, all the
circumstances of the explosion were explained and he could see no other
satisfactory explanation. It was not an explosion of chlorate of potash at all, but of
carbon in a fine state of division in an atmosphere of oxygen. if that were the true
explanation the dangers arising from the handling of chlorate of potash were very
much minimised ; at any rate you were not dealing with a substance which per se
was explosive. If that were the true explanation it was almost an impossibility that
under any ordinary circumstances such conditions could be produced, and,
therefore, this was not the dangerous substance to handle which many persons
might be led to believe from what had been said there that evening.

Mr. M. J. HAMMIL said it was quite a new thing in chemistry to state that
chlorate of potash was per se explodable by heat because, until the affair at St.
Helen's. it was at all events undreamt of. It was rather too had that the article
should be branded as explodable on such a meagre experiment as that made by
Dr. Dupré with a very small head of chlorate in a loop of platinum wire. It would
be interesting to study the results of some experiments on the effects of suddenly
heating chlorate of potash which had been made by submitting it to the intense
heat of a furnace produced by the reaction of "thermit" when ignited.

Experiment 1.—One grm. enclosed in platinum foil was placed on the " thermit,"
which was then ignited. The platinum fused and the chlorate decomposed
without explosive suddenness.
Experiment 2.—The chlorate was enclosed in platinum foil and dropped into
molten " thermit." result same as in No. 1.
Experiment 3—-Crystals of chlorate, and small quantities of powdered chlorate,
dropped into molten "thermit" introduced a like result.
Experiment 4.—Five grms. of chlorate in a porcelain crucible were embedded in
"thermit," which was then ignited. The crucible melted away and the chlorate
rapidly decomposed, but not suddenly.
Experiment 5.—Molten chlorate was dropped on to fused "thermit." The chlorate
decomposed with a puff, a much nearer approach to explosive effects than in
experiments 1 to 4.
Experiment 6.—Two grms. of chlorate enclosed in a pill box of cardboard
dropped into fusing “ thermit ”decomposes in a similar fashion to experiments 1
to 4.


Mr. T. ROYLE said "some years ago when he was interested in magic lantern
work lie used the ordinary mixture of chlorate of potash and manganese in the
preparation of oxygen. After that he used a tube of chlorate of potash only, and
never had any trouble or
accident."

Mr. MACNAB said it was very desirable to keep to the point before the meeting.
It was very difficult on the evidence now brought forward to got away from the
conclusion that chlorate of potash would explode by the simple influence of heat,
without any carbonaceous matter around it. One gentleman said that under any
ordinary circumstances it would not explode, which they would all subscribe to
freely ; but everone who had experience of explosives line that it was generally
the extraordinary thing that led to the explosion, and the immense importance of
having established once for all that certain things would explode was quite
enough to make everyone take care and try to frame legislation and rules with a
view to preventing such an accident as happened at St. Helen's. Of course they
must not run away with the idea that chlorate of potash by itself was one of the
most explosive or sensitive bodies, but they must not neglect the evidence of the
experiments which Dr. Dupré and Berthelot had made. The same thing was said
once about picric acid. For many years it was looked upon as a perfectly safe
thing, but it was now put under the Explosives Act.

The CHAIRMAN said Mr. MacNab had struck the right note when he said that
no amount of negative evidence could get round a positive experiment. The
circumstances that led to a positive result might be subject to criticism, and it
might be said that they would not occur in practice, but no one who had listened
to Dr. Dupré’s paper could get away from the fact that under some conditions
chlorate of potash was per se an explosive. It was not a satisfactory argument to
say that the bead was such a small one. No doubt if it were necessary a larger
bead might be employed, but it was not every day that an experiment could be
made on the explodability of a bead of 156 tons weight. It was well to bear in
mind that substances of that kind under conditions which no doubt had never
happened before, would explode, and the sooner manufacturers who made
potassium chlorate recognised that, the better. It was no use saying it was hard
on an article that had hitherto borne a blameless reputation that it should now be
put under a cloud. It was much better to recognise all the facts. He was sure the
members would all join in a vote of thanks to Dr. Dupré.







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[*] posted on 16-4-2010 at 05:52


You all seem to have taken my suggestion the wrong way, I said what I said because this post was located in the Fulminate thread just prior to me reading it here. With all the banter going on about wizards style it seemed as though he was trying to troll by simply, double posting, ignoring other members suggestions ect. I have since seen that it is no longer in the thread where I read it before an must have been split IE deleted and given its own dedicated thread.

I have nothing against these storys as some are quite interesting one of which I enjoyed was the Chlorine trifloride? I believe it was.

What about a whole section dedicated to News and ancedotal reports such as these? With Wizard around im certine it would be no problem getting a new area such as that off the ground and it will give others a place to report past and present media reports of the chemical nature like that chemical spill a few months ago when someone punctured7 barrles or so of Nitrated PET o something along tem lines.





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"I see a lot of patterns in our behavior as a nation that parallel a lot of other historical processes. The fall of Rome, the fall of Germany — the fall of the ruling country, the people who think they can do whatever they want without anybody else's consent. I've seen this story before."~Maynard James Keenan
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[*] posted on 16-4-2010 at 07:05


Quote: Originally posted by chief  
W

About the chlorate: Maybe it even detonates by itself ...: Someone with experience might grow larger crystals (several cm) and then try to set them off with a initial charge ...
==> Through a single crystal the shockwave could run undisturbed, this thereby could be set off easier than a powder ..., if that would be possible ...
[Edited on 16-4-2010 by chief]



Potassium Chlorate, The Explosion of. D. [?] Berthelot. [?]
Comptes rend. 129, [23], 926—929.
In :— The Journal of the Society of Chemical Industry.
19 [1] 45. January 31, 1900

THOUGH potassium chlorate is an endothermic compound, it cannot be
detonated by simply heating, but decomposes quietly, though with increasing
rapidity in proportion as the temperature of the mass is raised by the heat
evolved during the decomposition. If, however, a little ball, gathered on the end of
a thin glass rod by dipping it several times into fused potassium chlorate, when at
a temperature just above its solidifying point, he brought within 20 min. of the
bottom of an empty tube of hard glass which has been raised to a bright red heat
by a large gas-flame, then each drop of the chlorate on the end of the rod, as it is
melted by the heat of the enclosure and falls upon the bottom of the tube,
explodes with distinct detonation, and production of white clouds of potassium
chloride. Referring to the late explosion at tit. Helens, the author points out that
the conditions of his experiment might be realised on the large scale in the case
of the walls of a chamber which have become heated by a fire to a temperature
far above that needed to decompose potassium chlorate, and into which
chamber the chlorate is introduced in quantities insufficient to sensibly reduce its
temperature. Picric acid offers another instance of the same phenomenon, as
does also dynamite, a small amount of which hums away quietly when a light is
applied, whilst a larger quantity, especially if heated to
start with, detonates.—J. T. D).


XXII.—EXPLOSIVES, MATCHES, Etc.

Potassium Chlorate ; Explosion of —. M. Berthellot. Mem. des Poudres et
Salpetres, 1900, 10 ; Chem. Trade Journal, 1901, 28, [720], 224.
In :— The Journal of The Society of Chemical Industry.
20 [4] 388 April 30, 1901

ALTHOUGH potassium chlorate, considered with reference to oxygen and
potassium chloride, is an endothermic compound, yet it is not ordinarily classed
as an explosive body. The author finds that it can be made to detonate at the
ordinary pressure by introducing it suddenly into a receptacle, which has
beforehand been raised to and is maintained at a temperature much higher than
that at which the decomposition commences. It is also necessary that the mass
of material which constitutes the receptacle shall be so great that the introduction
of the quantity of decomposable material (supposed to be introduced at the
ordinary temperature) shall not be sufficient to sensibly reduce the general
temperature. The following experiment is similar to that previously described
(Ann. Chin. Phys. 1889, 16, [6], 23) by the author for effecting the detonation of
picric acid. A glass tube, of 25—30 mm. diameter, closed at one end, is
supported in a nearly vertical position, and heated in the flame of a large gas
burner, until the lower part of the tube has attained a perceptible red heat. A
glass rod is drawn out at the cud to the thickness of a coarse thread, then
introduced into a quantity of pure potassium chlorate, which has been melted in a
porcelain crucible, withdrawn, and allowed to cool until the salt begins to solidify.
The operation is repeated several times until a few decigrms. of solidified salt are
accumulated in the form of an oval lump on the end of the glass thread. When
the glass tube is quite red, the glass rod is introduced until the potassium
chlorate is within about 10 mm. of the bottom, care being taken that it does not
touch the tube anywhere. After a short time the chlorate melts and falls, drop by
drop, on to the red-hot bottom of the tube. Each drop causes an explosion at the
instant it comes in contact with the glass, producing a very distinct sound and a
cloud of white smoke, consisting of dust and vapour of potassium chloride. The
explosion does not extend to the portion of liquid salt remaining on the glass
thread. Both picric acid and potassium chlorate can be made to detonate in this.
manner in an inert gas ; the former detonates better in an atmosphere of air or
oxygen ; and the latter if it be heated in a hydrocarbon flame. The author points
out that the exact conditions of the experiment described above may be-realised
in a large fire embracing the roof or wall of a store containing a considerable
quantity of picric acid or potassium chlorate, such for instance, as the explosion
of chlorate at St. Helens (see this Journal, 1900, 1159).

The author points out that with other bodies also, an increase of explosive
properties is produced by analogous circumstances. lie states that in cases of
this sort, unless the increase of temperature be limited by dissociation or change
of physical state, the velocity of the reaction, combination,
or decomposition increases also, following a law which is a logarithmic function of the temperature.
—A. S.


On the 27th of March 1952, four people were killed and
several injured in the chemistry building of Howard University, Washington,
D.C. when 400 pounds of sodium chlorate (possibly contaminated with
cardboard) being removed from a basement storage room exploded.
(Presumable from a electric spark generated when a worker grasped the
metal handles of the loaded hand truck.)
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[*] posted on 16-4-2010 at 07:18


If this WiZ is indeed D.J.H, aka Anon Emous, then I welcome you. The members of SM will be well educated by the breadth and depth of his knowledge
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[*] posted on 16-4-2010 at 11:24


Now I'm fairly sure he is.

And we will definately gain more knowledge with him around. Although I personally don't like the way he posts (single threads), I welcome him with my apologies for being harsh.
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[*] posted on 16-4-2010 at 22:24


personaly I think its sad when youngsters hurt themselves with chemistry.

thankyou for the information loosing your hand would be a life debilatating event that
there is no comming back from.





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[*] posted on 18-4-2010 at 15:28


I think his posts are great and worthwhile reading. In all the years of mad science I have been involved in potassium chlorate was involved in the only serious injury I ever received. Being over 45 years ago I do not recall the recipe I was playing with exactly but I do recall this chemical and sulfur were in the mix. I made an ounce or two of it, and put it in a bottle well sealed for some later firework fun. Being interrupted that day I never did anything with it, relegating it to storage for some future date. 3 years later I found the bottle going through old stuff and opened the bottle and poured it out into a larger container. Remembering only vaguely what I had been making I knew it was explosive and flammable and was uncertain if I should just destroy it or go set it off and see what it did. Never had the time though, with no motion whatever it went off in a big fireball with quite some force to it (something I would have not considered being unconfined). Burned myself on the left hand so badly when I went to a local drugstore to buy some supplies to patch myself up the guy behind the counter seeing burns into the muscle started complaining I need to go to the hospital. Which I refused, saying I would take care of it. He actually called the police on me but I left before they showed up and went home and patched my hand the best I could. Try it sometime with only one working hand. The muscles in that hand never fully recovered and it was peroxide washing over many days which kept infection from getting too bad as eventually it healed. Years later I read some chemistry info which lead me to believe what had happened was moisture in the air activated sulfuric acid impurities causing the mixture to spontaneously go off. I know it was dormant while I poured it out and for several minutes after, it was the rainy season and a very hot humid and muggy day, the kind where you feel you are wearing a wet hot sponge for clothing. Nothing else I can think of could have set it off, it spent 3 years sealed up in a container and did not go off opening the lid or pouring it out. In any case I gained a great respect for this chemical.




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[*] posted on 18-4-2010 at 16:36


Quote: Originally posted by IrC  
Years later I read some chemistry info which lead me to believe what had happened was moisture in the air activated sulfuric acid impurities causing the mixture to spontaneously go off. I know it was dormant while I poured it out and for several minutes after, it was the rainy season and a very hot humid and muggy day, the kind where you feel you are wearing a wet hot sponge for clothing. Nothing else I can think of could have set it off, it spent 3 years sealed up in a container and did not go off opening the lid or pouring it out. In any case I gained a great respect for this chemical.



Herbert G. Tanner
Instability of Sulfur-Potassium Chlorate Mixture: A chemical view
Journal of Chemical Education Vol. 36 No. 2, February 1959

Numerous amateur rocket enthusiasts suffered serious casualties from
premature sulfur-chlorate explosions, according to C. Burns (1). This is most
regrettable. These accidents should challenge elementry, chemistry teachers,
textbook writers, and civic-minded chemists to do their utmost to teach safety to
tyro chemists. Chemistry without safety is too frequently fatal.

The following exposition of the chemistry of sulfur-mixture is presented-with the
hope that the information will be conveyed to secondary school chemistry
students as a lesson in safety. Safety is not a series of "'don'ts," but is a matter
of foresight, with avoidance of hazards. In the discussion of the chemistry of
sulfur-chlorate mixture, an example of how safety can be designed into an
experiment is included for the benefit of the chemists of tomorrow.

Sulfur, by itself, is not a particularly reactive element at ambient temperatures.
Even in the finely divided state it is difficult to ignite. Similarly, chlorate is a
relatively stable compound at ordinary temperature. It decomposes only when
heated (2) almost to its melting point of 368'C. It is much less reactive at room
temperature than is pure oxygen, for example. These facts would not incline one
to predict that a simple mixture of sulfur and chlorate might ignite spontaneously
after being stored in a warehouse many months, or detonate when a fuse is
being stuffed into a rocket charge.

World accident records for the past, century show that sulfur-chlorate stability
is erratic and unpredictable. This fact indicates that the mixture might contain a
concealed chemical trigger. A close look, particularly at sulfur, discloses this
trigger and the manner in which it becomes cocked.

There are two basic grades of sulfur—crude and refined. Sulfur produced at the
mine is called crude sulfur (formerly “roll sulfur"). About half of the world of sulfur
is extracted from the ground in Texas by the Frasch process. Traditionally, this raw product is called crude
sulfur, even though it has the amazing purity of 99.8 to 99.9% sulfur. The chief
impurities asphalt which is present in the dissolved state. This mere trace of
asphalt makes raw sulfur difficult to burn on a large scale. Air oxidation at
ordinary, temperature is detectable only after period of months. Moisture in the
air assists this slow “rusting” process.

Refined sulfur is produced by distillation. The purist is obtained conditions that
cause the sulfur to condense directly too the solid state, i.e., the sulfur is
sublimed. The product , called flowers of sulfur, when freshly prepared has an
average purity of 100.0% sulfur. Even when both grades of sulfur are pulverized
to the same degree of fineness, flowers of sulfur oxidize more rapidly because its
surface is cleaner.

Polythionic Acid, the "Trigger"

Air oxidation probably produces sulfurous acid on the surface of sulfur, but this
acid has not been detected (3) because, as H. Debus showed, sulfurous acid
reacts quickly with sulfur to form polythionic acids beginning with trithionic acid,
H2S306. The latter adds sulfur atoms successively to form tetra- and penta-
thionic acids. These acids, particularly pentathionic acid (5), are responsible for
the fungicidal value of dusting sulfurs. Aqueous polythionic acids accumulate
until the concentration reaches a limit (6) where evaporation or a temperature
rise will cause partial decomposition according to the equation:

H2S3O6 = H2SO4 + S02 + (n - 2) S

The reaction is irreversible, but loss of polythionic acids becomes repaired by air
oxidation of sulfur when the temperature subsides. Reaction (1) is significant in
that a sudden increase in temperature can, cause a significant amount of sulfur
dioxide to be formed, not by direct oxidation of sulfur, but by decomposition of a
concentrated solution of polythionic acids. This event, however, must await the
formation of a concentrated solution of these acids.

Reaction (1) is responsible also for the accumulation of sulfuric acid on sulfur.
The sulfuric acid, being hygroscopic, favors additional production of polythionic
acids. By capillary action, sulfuric acid coats the surface of chlorate and
produces chloric acid. Although dilute chloric acid at ambient temperature is a
very weak oxidizing agent, its presence has given rise to the theory that chloric
acid is the primary cause of sulfur chlorate instability.
Sulfur dioxide will react directly with moist chlorate to produce chlorine dioxide.

S02 + 2KC103 = 2CIO2 + K2SO4 (2)

Chlorine dioxide immediately attacks, sulfur, the chief reaction being,

2CIO2 + 4S = 2SO2. + S2Cl2 (3)

Expressing reactions (2.) and (3) as one reaction.

S02 + 2KClO3 + 4S = 2SO2 + S2Cl2 + K2S04 (4)

Reaction (4) is a chain reaction because more sulfur dioxide is produced than is
consumed. Initiation of reaction (4) requires an extraneous source of sulfur
dioxide. This trigger is cocked by the growth of polythionic acids on the sulfur,
and is “pulled" when the heat from friction, impact, sunshine, the like is sufficient
to release a threshold amount of sulfur dioxide from the "reservoir" of polythionic
acids. Heat from reaction (4) quickly ignites a portion of the mixture, and, if the
gases produced cannot escape readily, the mixture will explode.

Popular formulas for preparing sulfur-chlorate mixtures generally specify more
sulfur than can be oxidized by the chlorate to sulfur trioxide. The reasons for this
are not pertinent to this subject, but it is important to note that the excess sulfur
increases the instability of the mixture by favoring formation of a greater amount
of polythionic acids.

This “trigger" theory was capable of explaining some previously baffling industrial
accident conditions, but it needed experimental confirmation. It predicted that a
chlorate mixture prepared with an oxidation resistant crude sulfur would be more
stable than one prepared with flowers of sulfur. Comparative tests were made
using ignition temperature as an index of stability.

Experiment A: 2 g of flowers of sulfur, 4 g of reagent grade chlorate, and 4 g of
cleaned and dried sand were intermingled on unglazed paper with a metal
spatula; 1 ml of water was added dropwise, and the mixing was continued. The
product was pressed lightly into a thin open-ended cardboard tube made from a
paper match-cover after the striker strip had been cut off. The tube was laid on
an asbestos board in an empty ventilated hood and was heated at approximately
1oC temperature rise per minute by a heat lamp suspended above the tube. The
temperature was measured with a thermocouple inserted to the center' of the
mixture. Ignition temperatures on repeat experiments ranged from 82 to 91oC,
and averaged 85oC.

Safety precautions that were designed into the above experiment include mixing
the powders with a metal spatula and the use of unglazed paper to reduce
accumulation of static charges. The powder was dampened primarily to give it
sufficient cohesion to remain in the cardboard tube, but the dampness no doubt
helped to suppress static charges. The striker strip was removed from the
match-cover because it contains a sulfide of phosphorus which might ignite the
mixture prematurely by contact with stray chlorate. Porosity, contributed by sand,
and the short open-ended tube all owed easy escape of gases, thereby reducing
the probability of an explosion. Both ends of the tube were left open to reduce
fire hazard by canceling rocket effects when the mixture ignited. Fire hazard was
further reduced by the asbestos board and by the emptiness of the hood.

Experiment B: Mixtures similar to those in Experiment A were prepared with
crude sulfur that had been pulverized until the particles had a mass median
diameter of 44 microns, thereby approximating the particle size of flowers of
sulfur. These mixtures ignited ,sharply at 124oC. This temperature is above the
melting point sulfur and indicates that ignition may have been initiated by sulfur
dioxide produced by air oxidation of hot sulfur vapor.

Experiments A and B definitely demonstrated the predicated greater stability of
the crude sulfur mix. However, the chloric acid theory could predict that the
greater sulfuric acid content of the flowers of sulfur, instead of the polythionic
acids, would cause the lower ignition temperature. As a matter of fact, the
flowers of sulfur contained 0.02% "acidity" calculated as sulfuric acid. The
acidity of the crude sulfur was detectable but was too small to titrate.

As a test of the "chloric acid" theory, Experiment A was repeated using flowers of
sulfur dampened with sufficient 0.2 N H2SO4 to give it an acidity value of 0.50%.
When this highly acidified sulfur was mixed with chlorate, an abnormal amount of
chloric acid must have been formed. In spite of this excess, the ignition
temperatures averaged only 87oC in close agreement with Experiment A. These
results dismiss the "chloric acid" theory as a primary explanation of instability.

Final confirmation that sulfur dioxide triggers the ignition was obtained by
repeating Experiment A, but. instead of heating the mixture, a long capillary
glass tube containing sulfur dioxide flowing at the rate of 0.3 cc per second was
thrust into the mixture. Ignition occurred almost as quickly as though the flame of
match had been applied.

Sulfur--chlorate typifies many fuel-chlorate mixtures. Metallic sulfides and
polysufides behave qualitatively like sulfur. Phosphorus cannot yield sulfur
dioxide, but at room temperature it evolves reducing vapors of phosphorus oxide
and possibly some elemental phosphorus which react so energetically with
chlorate that an explosion usually occurs before mixing can be accomplished.
Carbon disulfide, rosin, turpentine, thiocyanates, aldehydes, sugars, tannin, and
numerous other materials that form volatile reducing agents on heating,
contribute instability to chlorate mixtures. Powdered metals such as oily
aluminum, zinc, and magnesium are sometimes used with or without other fuels
in chlorate mixture. These metals are corroded by chlorate. Their chlorates are
hygroscopic and decompose at relatively low temperatures. The high heats of
oxidation of these metals could cause local temperatures sufficiently high to
ignite the mixture. No wonder such concoctions are unpredictable in stability.

Much of the unsavory reputation assigned to chlorate should be reassigned to
those who have selected the fuels. Apparently availability and cheapness,
instead of chemistry, have dictated the choice of fuels. Any fuel that is subject to
air oxidation at ordinary temperature, or forms an unstable chlorate, or produces
an easily oxidizable vapor below 100oC, or reacts with chlorate below 150oC
should be excluded. Starch (7) is a fuel that survives these requirements.

Literature Cited

(1) BURNS, C., J. CHEM. EDUC., 33, 308 (1956).
(2) BROWN, F. E., AND WHITE, W. C. 0., Proc. Iowa .Acad Sci., 31,291(1924).
(3) MELLOR, J. W., "Comprehensive Treatise on Inorganic and Physical
Chemistry," Longmans, Green &, Co., Inc., London, 1947, Vol. 10, pg. S8.
(4) DEBS. H., Ann.. 244, 76 (1888),
(5) YOUNG, H.C. AND WILLIAMS ROBERT, Science, 67, 19 (1928)
(6) MELLOR, J.W. "Modern Inorganic Chemistry," Longmans, Green & Co., Inc.,
London, 1916, p. 458; EPHRAIM, FRITZ, "Inorganic, Chemistry," Gurney and
Jackson, London, 1926, p, 463.
(7) TANNER, H.G. U.S Patnet 1,966,652 (1934)



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[*] posted on 23-4-2010 at 07:20


yes I will not work with energetics they scare the hell out of me.



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[*] posted on 24-4-2010 at 07:02


Quote: Originally posted by Ephoton  
yes I will not work with energetics they scare the hell out of me.



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[*] posted on 2-5-2010 at 00:02


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tUoWJ9rsVpY&fmt=18

Thus sang Secret Garden
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[*] posted on 4-5-2010 at 10:55
1878 Paris. 20 Million toy caps go by-by BOOM


The strand magazine, Volume 13 1897
For photograph — http://tinyurl.com/yzflknn

On the 14th of May, 1878, occurred a disastrous explosion of toy-caps, or "amorces," as they are technically called. The scene of this explosion was No. 22, Rue Béranger, Paris, which house was occupied by a M. Matthieu, manager of the toy-cap business of M. Blanchon. This was a serious affair, illustrating in a remarkable manner the danger of an excessive accumulation of explosives which singly, or in small quantities, are perfectly harmless.

The following photograph was forwarded to the Foreign Office by the French Government, who appointed six experts to inquire into the explosion. The building itself, as one may see, was entirely destroyed, and the effects extended to the adjoining house (No. 20). Astonishing to relate, fourteen persons were killed, and sixteen more or less seriously injured. There were two distinct explosions—one in M. Matthieu's shop, and the other in an outhouse at the back.

So dreadful were the effects, that the authorities suspected that some far more deadly explosive must have been secretly manufactured and stored—picrate of potash, perhaps, or dynamite. " Toy-caps, such as children play with, would never have done all this," said the police, as they carried the dead and injured from the ruins. Hence the inquiry and the six experts. But it was conclusively proved that it was the caps that did it, and nothing else. You see, there were 20,772,000 of them in stock, or a potential explosive force equal to 1,620lb. of gunpowder. For sixteen years had M. Blanchon carried on the manufacture, storage, and transport of these things without a single accident.

The cause of the explosion was more than a little obscure. The committee of experts commenced a series of interesting experiments. They set fire to 288,000 caps by means of a litre of petroleum, but they merely crackled for thirty-five minutes. Then a gunpowder cartridge was exploded in a packing-case full of the mysterious scraps of pink paper, but all to no purpose. Then percussion or detonation was tried, and that " touched the spot!" A well was dug ; blocks of oak embedded in stones and mortar were placed at the bottom, and on this floor no end of grosses of boxes of caps were deposited. The well was then shut down and earth heaped on top. A hole was left, however, and through this a weight was dropped. That did it. A tremendous explosion followed; the planks and earth were hurled here and there, and branches of trees in the vicinity torn off. From this it was inferred that something must have fallen on the caps and thus acted like the hammer of a toy pistol.

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[*] posted on 6-5-2010 at 06:33
Armstrong's deadly brew — My original article


Donald J Haarmann aka The WiZ
American Fireworks News #51 December 1985

A letter of some months past detailing a reader's experiences with nitrogen tri-iodide,
has occasioned this missive on its potentially lethal cousin, Armstrong's mixture.

Dear WiZ,

"Quite some years ago (30?) I happened upon the following in the Popular Science
Book of Formulas: Recipes, Methods & Secret Processes. (1932) 'A sensitive
detonating mixture is made of potassium chlorate 10 parts, black antimony sulphide 5
parts and red phosphorus 1 part. Mix without friction and at some distance from the
operator's face. It is quite sensitive to blows, very unlike [?] the potassium chlorate
sulphur mixture.'

"In those bygone days it was easy to obtain chemicals either from the local druggist
(who was probably amazed at the amount of potassium nitrate my mother required for
"preserving meat") or any chemical supply house. One local chemical supply house
would even give me a discount for being a student. Therefore, obtaining the required
reagents was not difficult.

"I started out by putting the mixture in 0000 gelatin capsules. Just throwing them up into
the air was sufficient to cause detonation upon impact with the ground.

"One day a friend and I loaded quite a large amount into a cardboard tube that BB's
come in. We backed off quite a bit and fired upon it with a Daisy pump action BB gun.
The second or third pellet found the mark, resulting in a tremendous blast which rocked
us back on our heels and caused the propane gas tanks next to the house to ring as
though they had been struck by a hammer!

"This progressed to placing the material into a (you don't want to know). Threw one off
the roof of my friend's apartment house one night toward the vacant lot directly behind.
However, its errant trajectory caused it to land/detonate on the fire escape of an
adjacent building! Scared the S- out of someone who was peacefully watching TV with
the window open.

"For the ultimate and final folly, had taken to adding magnesium to increase sensitivity!
(Bet the second thing you did with your Chem Craft chemistry set was to find all the fun
things you could do with Magnesium!) At that time our families both had country homes
to which we adjoined each summer. In the surrounding woods my friend and I had
constructed a small shack. On this fateful day while seated on the ground at the back,
my friend was seated on a stone wall directly in front mixing, when KABOOM!
WHAT A BLAST!!! The smoke blew away, and HE WAS GONE!!!! GOOD GRIEF, what
am I going to tell his mother???? He blew himself up and I can't even find the pieces?!?!

I am happy to report my grief was short lived, for these few seconds of no little anguish
were relieved by a plaintive cry of' Pssst -- Pssst I'm over here, coming from some
yards away. For as luck would have it, we (he) were using a cardboard container, and
"all" that happened was the bottom blew out, resulting in numerous small holes in his
blue jeans from the unreacted phosphorus, and a not little-bit sore, blackened hand.
There is, in retrospect, no doubt in my mind that had mixing been completed and the
whole batch detonated, he would not have been able to play the piano. Regards,"

Name withheld under pain of having flaming arrows being sent in the WiZ's direction
while he is making flash and report.

Yes, indeed. I would add the following quote from the American Pyrotechnist for March
1978. "[a PGI member] dry mixed about a teaspoon of potassium chlorate and [red]
phosphorous, put it in a plastic 35mm film container, and it ignited or exploded violently
just from the slight friction of snapping the cap on! He says that he has learned his
lesson, but the injuries to both hands were so disabling that he will not be able to
correspond with other members for about 2 months."

Some time ago an outfit called Howell Laboratories, Folly Beach, SC, sold through an
advertisement in the Shotgun News information on a "frictional impact explosive"

The information turned out to be 5 small photo reproduced pages on the compounding
of Armstrong's mixture, for use in "Security Bombs" (booby traps), "Smoke Screen"
(combined with ammonium chloride), "Impact Grenades" (gelatin capsules), "Explosive
Rodent Traps" ("It let's you know when a mouse or rat has been caught."), and "Impact
Detonator”, and "Explosive Paint" ("This explosive paint lends itself well to practical
jokes.") [Sure!] One half pages were devoted to safety in compounding, with the
admonishment that "A pencil eraser sized piece will put the loudest fire cracker to
shame, while a thimble full will rival a stick of dynamite." Perhaps somewhat over
stated, but not by much.

An accident involving a substantial amount of Armstrong's mixture was reported in
Explosives and Their Power. Translated and Condensed from the French of M.
Berthelot. London 1892.

"The explosion which occurred in Paris, in the Rue Beranger, on May 14, 1878, may
also be mentioned, in a store containing amorces [caps] intended for children's toys.
These amorces were composed as follows:

One kind, called single, of a mixture of potassium chlorate (12 parts), amorphous [red]
phosphorus (6 parts), lead oxide (12 parts), and resin (1 part); the others, called double,
consisted of a mixture of potassium chlorate (9 parts), amorphous phosphorus (1 part),
antimony sulphide (1 part), flowers of sulphur (0.25 part), and nitre (0.25 part). The
latter, more sensitive to friction, averaged 0.01 grm. in weight. From six to eight millions
of these amorces pasted on paper slips, in lots of five each, were piled up in the
warehouse in boxes. A few of these having become ignited by an accident, the origin of
which was never clearly ascertained, caused the whole to explode. One building
suddenly gave way, the facade being blown out, and the stonework hurled some
distance. One stone, measuring a cubic metre, was thrown to a distance of fifty
two meters. A great part of the adjoining building was also destroyed, fourteen persons
were killed on the spot, and sixteen received injuries.

"These terrible effects are explained when we consider that the weight of the entire
explosive matter contained in the amorces amounted to about 64 kgms., and that its
force, owing to the composition of this matter, was equal to a force of 226 kgms. of
black powder. (These facts have been taken from the report presented by the
Committee of Inquiry.)

"It is essential that persons having explosive substances under their charge should
never lose sight of the conviction that, from the facts and general truths which have just
been stated, preventive measures should always be prescribed on the hypothesis of an
explosion." [Amen.]

I hope that these experiences point up the folly of working with combinations such as
Armstrong's mixture, its cousin the red explosive mixture, and other less than safe and
sane mixtures, i.e. potassium chlorate and sulphur, or potassium chlorate and antimony
sulphide, which, by by, was used during the civil war in land mines! Further, although
Armstrong's mixture and the "red explosive" can be compounded "safely" when
wettedwhat are you going to do with them when they have dried out??

Although the word "detonation" is commonly used in connection with pyrotechnics, the
only comp that has been tested and found to produce true detonation is potassium
chlorate and sulphur. However, it is my firm belief that if Armstrong's mixture were to be
tested, it too would be found capable of detonating.

Other than toy caps and such, the only modern use for Armstrong's mixture I have been
able to locate are three US Patents (4,372,210, 4,191,947, 4,130,082) describing
intrusion alarm systems using the radiant output from MAGICUBE flash lamps to initiate
a quantity of Armstrong's mixture or SUPER BANG CAPS (potassium chlorate, red
phosphorus, manganese dioxide, sand and glue) to produce an audible alarm.

Finally, A Thought for Today: There are old pyro's and there are bold pyro's, but there
are no old unlucky pyro's!

HELP WANTED
Even the WiZ does not know all (yet). Who, if any one, knows who Armstrong was,
and/or how his name came to be associated with the combination of potassium chlorate
and red phosphorous? WiZ

---------------------------------
HE DO NOW!

“Sir Williams Armstrong’s explosive mixture for shells contains amorphous phosphorus
and chlorate of potash.”

Rudolf Wagner “A Handbook of Chemical Technology” D. Appleton and Company, New
York 1872.
Reprint by Lindsay Publications inc. pg. 546
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[*] posted on 6-5-2010 at 21:25


For those who have bought the farm, was science the realtor
or was it a lack of vigilance, or thoughtlessness, or just bad luck.......

give me a moment to contemplate the deep meaning of these things,
and to the director of this real life drama, please bring up the violins
and someone pass me a hanky ....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wasYNNfnfVE&fmt=18 Song from a Secret Garden

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=stNT4X2BZtE&fmt=18 The Promise - Secret Garden

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4h12I9iJvE&fmt=18 from the movie How The West Was Won



[Edited on 7-5-2010 by Rosco Bodine]
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[*] posted on 7-5-2010 at 03:20


Who was Armstrong ?
==> He was somehow involved in developement/construction of artillery, canons etc. ... ; I believe in america ...
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[*] posted on 7-5-2010 at 07:21


Quote: Originally posted by chief  
Who was Armstrong ?
==> He was somehow involved in developement/construction of artillery, canons etc. ... ; I believe in america ...



When I have a question such as yours... I frequently consult... But first let me add the following :—


Journal of the Franklin Institute, 1862
On some of the Causes, Effects, and Military Applications of
Explosions : An Abstract from a Lecture by F. A. ABEL, Esq.,
Director of the Chemical Establishment of the War Department.
From Newton's London Journal, May, 1862.

One of the most highly explosive mixtures at present known,
consisting of chlorate of potassa and amorphous phosphorus, has
been most ingeniously applied by Sir William Armstrong to the
ignition of his time-fuzes, and to the production of concussion and
percussion fuzes, remarkable for the great ease with which they
are exploded. The above mixture may be ignited by the
application of a gentle heat, or by submission to moderate
pressure; if it is made up into a hard mass by mixture with a little
shellac varnish, the friction resulting from the rapid insertion of a
pin's point into the material suffices to ignite it, even when it is
well covered with varnish. Thus, in Armstrong's time-fuze, which,
when fixed in its place in the head of the shell, cannot, like
ordinary fuzes employed in smooth-bore guns, be ignited by the
flame of the exploding charge of powder (as the shell accurately
fits the bore of the gun), the fuze composition is inflamed,
immediately upon the firing of the gun, in the following
manner:—A small quantity of the phosphorus mixture is
deposited at the bottom of a cylindrical cavity in the centre of the
fuze, and over it is fixed a small plug of metal, with a pin's point
projecting from its lower end. This plug is held in its place by a pin
of soft metal, which, by reason of the vis inertice of the plug, is
broken when the gun is fired, and the pin then instantly pierces
the pellet of detonating mixture, which, by its ignition, sets into
action the time-fuze. The distance between the pin's point and the
phosphorus mixture, before the explosion, is only one-tenth of an
inch. This arrangement exemplifies in a striking manner the
delicacy of action which may be obtained by a judicious
combination of simple mechanical arrangements and highly
explosive materials.



Lieut. G. A. Converse, U. S Navy. Notes on Torpedo Fuzes.
U.S. Torpedo Station. Newport, Rhode Island, January, 1875.

Mr. [Professor, Walter N.] Hill** Suggested several compounds
containing red phosphorus and potassium chlorate.

** "The explosion [Repauno Powder Co., N. J. March 29, 1884.]
in which Mr. Hill lost his life was one of the most terrible on
record. Besides Mr. Hill, Lammot Dupont, president of the
Repauno Chemical Works, E. Harry Norcross, superintendent,
George Noms, foreman, and A. S. Ackereon, chemist, were
instantly killed. The explosion shook the earth for a distance of
six miles, and great destruction was caused by it.


I frequently consult the Scholars Edition [11th, 1910] of the Encyclopædia Britannica.

http://www.1911encyclopedia.org/Main_Page

William George Armstrong





[Edited on 7-5-2010 by The WiZard is In]
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[*] posted on 10-5-2010 at 06:31
Armstrong's mixture redux.


Donald J Haarmann is The WiZ
American Fireworks News
#54 March 1986

Armstrong's mixture redux.

"Lasciate ogni speranza, voi chtentrate!"

Two letters have been received detailing their writers' experience with this mixture. I
have taken the liberty of editing them to protect the identities of the authors.

"In the mid 1950's, the local 5&10 cent stores were selling for 10¢ each, cap guns of tin
plated steel, somewhat thinner than the tinplate in good cans, embossed to look
somewhat like revolvers. All parts except the hinge or pivot pins and two springs were of
tin plate. No paint was applied.

"Caps were 1¢ a roll and had 50 shots per roll. They were narrower then common roll
caps. The tissue cover readily pulled off, once carefully started, revealing reddish lumps
(Armstrong's mixture?) about 20% the mass of common roll caps of the day. These
lumps could be scraped off using a razor blade or an Xacto knife and were considerably
more friction sensitive than the American black cap mixture.

"While watching late nite TV movies one summer, I amassed enough of this red mixture
to fill a Jetex fuse tin (about 3/4 or possibly 1 tablespoon) [of mixture]. It was then
ignited inside the tin via Jetex fuse through a hole in the lid. (Note minimal containment
of charge.)

"As an adult pyro, now with some considerable experience... it [was] absolutely THE
MOST POTENT MIX I've ever played with."

The second letter reads as follows:

"I also have a copy of the Popular Science Book of Formulas. I leafed thru it this
morning; the pages describing "Fireworks" were blackened with charcoal. - A'
memories!

"When I was 14 I worked in the local drug store. The owner, a pharmacist, would sell
me anything and everything even acid and glycerin to make Nitro, which I never did. I
also bought gelatin capsules, and made torpedoes. Some of the capsules were meant
for animals, and were at least an inch long and 1/2 inch wide. God, were they loud when
made with Armstrong's! I almost killed myself and gave it up."

Jack Stutting of Advanced Pyrotronics, Greenville, Michigan has provided the following
on the origins of this dreaded composition:

"Sir William Armstrong, an engineer from Newcastle, England. Originally known for
inventing types of hydraulic machinery and strengths of materials and applied the
results to making several types of modern artillery. He was one of the first developers of
rifled gun barrels and also developed several successful breech loading guns, (artillery).
He was appointed to the post of Superintendent of the Royal Gun Factory in Woolwich.
This first production guns went into the field in (8606). To work with this new designs in
gunnery new propellants and primers for these propellants had to be developed. Among
many compounds developed and tested the Armstrong's Mixture was one used quite
often in priming the propellant charges for large guns. Many of his designs still influence
the manufacture of modern artillery."

[The Ordnance Manual of 1862, provides instruction for producing "friction
primers for cannon" using "chlorate of potassa" and "sulphuret of antimony," however,
there is no mention of phosphorus in the book. Wiz.]

Dr. Ben Harriman of Florida, was kind enough to supply a copy of a letter received from
Herbert Ellern (March 1976) in which he states: "Nobody seems to know who the
'Armstrong' was who first made the deadly mixture. I have no doubt that soon after the
discovery of red P in 1844, its tremendous activity with oxidizing salts and some oxides
such as PbO2 was discovered. The Wm. G. Armstrong (1810-1900) mentioned in the
Britannica, an English engineer much engaged in ordnance, could have been it but he
surely was no chemist."

Ellern, Shimizu, and Tenney Davis have the following to say in their respective books:

ELLERN
"One combination of two solids exists in which a flaming or even explosive reaction
may take place on merely pushing the powders toward each other or on exertion of very
light pressure. This reaction occurs when the powdered components are completely dry
and the fuel is not superficially oxidized. The two materials are red phosphorus and
potassium chlorate and a demonstration of their reactivity should be performed only with
a few milligrams of each component. When the phosphorus has been kept for some
time in an ordinary reagent bottle, the spontaneity of the reaction may not be so
obvious, but the final effect may be just as disastrous, as has been shown many times
when high school students have appropriated and mixed to tether the two chemicals.
[emphasis added]

"This reaction is undoubtedly the most fascinating, and perhaps theoretically the most
interesting, solid reaction. It has been ingeniously tamed in the modern safety match.

"Red phosphorus and chlorate can be mixed in comparative safety in the presence of a
liquid vehicle, provided both reactants are thoroughly moistened by the vehicle before
they come into contact. Using an aqueous binder solution, small dabs of such a mixture
form the explosive ingredients of toy caps.

"[The] phosphorus/chlorate/binder combination are at the borderline between
spontaneous reaction and manageable, easily initiated, but stable systems of reactive
fuels and oxidizers."

SHIMIZU
rates the sensitivity of "fundamental two component firework compositions" on a scale
from 1, to 5 the most sensitive. The combination of potassium chlorate and red
phosphorus rated 5; realgar and sulphur were rated 4; milk sugar 3; while aluminium
and charcoal were both rated 1.

DAVIS
"Toy caps are commonly made from red phosphorus and potassium chlorate, a
combination of the many with which the pyrotechnist has to deal. THEIR
PREPARATION OUGHT UNDER NO CONDITIONS TO BE ATTEMPTED BY AN
AMATEUR.

"Mixtures of potassium chlorate and red phosphorus explode from shock and from fire.
They do burn in an orderly fashion as do black powder and most over pyrotechnic
mixtures."

Here in basement D of the Schloss Zaubuer a quick check of the arcane Bibliotheca
WiZardæ (perhaps the finest private collection of esoteric pyro publications and nudist
magazines in the western world) has turned up seven US patents using either
Armstrong's mixture or red phosphorus. [Exclusive of those designed primarily to
produce smoke.]

Charles Nelson's 1867 patent (65,764) for an "Improved toy torpedo and explosive
compound", provides the following: "The explosive material which I prefer and have
used successfully with my molded bodies is compounded of as follows: One third
amorphous phosphorus, one third chlorate of potash, one sixth sulphur, one sixth
pulverized chalk." Compared to modern formulae this 33%/33/17/17 combination is long
phosphorus and short chlorate, perhaps to decrease sensitivity, or to in crease the
amount of smoke.

Issac Milband's patent number 157,856 of 1874, provides for a fulminate compound
composed of red phosphorus, potassium chlorate and charcoal, for use in caps, primers
and cartridges.

Patent 592,227 of 1897 for a "Match and composition for same," used red phosphorus,
potassium chlorate, antimony sulphide, charcoal, lead chromate, gum benoin, dextrine
and gum sandarac!

Charles Kalber's "Flashlight powder" patent number 2,098,341
makes references to his British patent, 419,658 in which is
provided a detonation cap using a potassium chlorate, phosphorus
mixture.

USP number 2,122,488 of 1938, describes a "Blow out imitator and the method of
packaging the same." Assigned to the Victory Fireworks and Specialty Co., the patent
describes a device used to imitate the explosion of a tire blow out through the use of
detonator in the form of a fireworks torpedo.

"With this device one can safely plan an amusing trick by attaching the device to a tire
of a friend's car. When the car is moved and the rotation of the wheel brings the
detonator into engagement with the pavement it explodes with a loud bang which is a
perfect imitation of a tire blow out.

"It has been found that the explosive will detonate without fail and thereby create an
amusing [!?] situation and quite a joke upon the driver of the car when he gets out and
looks in vain for the blown tire.

"The explosive mixture is composed of red phosphorus and chlorate of potash with gum
arable as a binder and when first placed in its carrier it is of liquid form and hardens into
a cake or tablet. Continued setting of the explosive mixture results in its binder drying
out to such an extent that handling the torpedo or any jar thereof will result in breaking
down the cake or tablet so that the explosive assumes a granular form.

"Ordinary toy torpedoes carry sand, pebbles, or some abrasive mixture in conjunction
with the explosive mixture to cause the same to explode when struck. The present
mixture however when it becomes of granular form, will explode readily by even a slight
blow without the use of sand, pebbles or any abrasive mixture, with the result that the
device is much safer in use as it eliminates the flying particles of sand or the like, which
has always been incident upon the explosion of toy torpedoes as now manufactured
and sold."

A 1940 patent (2,194,480) for a "Noncorrosive priming composition," substitutes barium
nitrate for potassium chlorate, in the red phosphorus antimony sulphide mixture.

Fumio Hosoya's patent of 1966, (3,233,544) describes a "Signaling Device" and more
particularly an impact detonated, smoke or flame emitting device,
i.e., a torpedo. The "detonating material includes approximately 12 parts red lead, 1
part to which a binding agent is added." Here the composition is intended not to produce noise but sufficient
heat to volatilize a smoke dye. The combination of red lead and (ferro)silicon is of
course a thermate (Goldsmith's) type comp.
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[*] posted on 10-5-2010 at 07:21


Those toy caps I had too when I was a child: I wetted them before scratching the stuff off, which made it a safe procedure ...

==> Fortunately I had several aunt's who were chemists, and drove me away from the dangerous things ...; their stories of accidents had effect, probably because they were true ... and they knew what they talked about ...

It was also by accident that I discovered the detonating properties of the matchhead-stuff, after I had boiled it with water and thereby re-crystallized it ...
==> The stuff from only 10 matchheads could blow into pieces one of my usual Al-foil-canons, which had the inner diameter of 3mm, outer of 7 or 8, and with which I fired mathchheads through the room for amusement ... ; ignition was by heating the canon with a match, and after maybe 7-10 seconds it fired ... with normal matchheads ... ... : The recrystallized ones blew it to pieces, with a very loud bang ...

[Edited on 10-5-2010 by chief]
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