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Author: Subject: Common Chemicals as Precursors of Improvised Explosive Devices
The WiZard is In
International Hazard

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[*] posted on 10-2-2014 at 08:57
Common Chemicals as Precursors of Improvised Explosive Devices

I dobe A- Amazed and B- Depressed that this thesis was apparently accepted!

DF] Common Chemicals as Precursors of Improvised Explosive Devices: The Challenges of Controlling Domestic Terrorism
... standard military chemical agents may be difficult ... detection of explosives,
neutralizing common or precursor chemicals used in the manufacture of ... - 405k - 2005-09-01

Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited
Common Chemicals As Precursors of
Improvised Explosive Devices: The
Challenges of Defeating Domestic Terrorism
James I. Rostberg
September 2005
Thesis Advisor: Maria Rasmussen
Thesis Co-Advisor: Robert Simeral
Naval Postgraduate School
Monterey, CA 93943-5000

Potassium Chlorate
A plastic explosive, such as potassium chlorate, is an extremely volatile explosive
compound which has been used as the main explosive filler in grenades, land mines, and mortar rounds. Using a simple process, potassium chlorate can be extracted from
common household bleach by adding potassium chloride (sold as a salt substitute at
health and nutrition stores). An even easier process of making potassium chlorate is by
properly mixing solidox (used in welding applications as an oxidizing agent) and sugar or glucose. “This explosive has approximately 83% of the explosive power of TNT.
Potassium chlorate is a common ingredient in some fireworks and can be purchased in
bulk from fireworks/chemical supply houses. Potassium chlorate normally appears in
white crystal or powder form.”

NB — Solidox contained sodium chlorate and was use to generate oxygen for welding.
Commercial air plane emergency oxygen generators are another version.

OK … Wiki-P suggests oxygen candles use potassium chlorate as the oxidizer (this being the 3rd chemical/pyrotechnic error I have found at Wiki-P in the last month!) the four reference listed (MSDS’s) list sodium chlorate as the oxidizer.

The thesis is correct in stating that sodium chlorate combined with sugar can is used as an explosive, albeit a very sensitive/dangerous to the user explosive.

Sodium Chlorate
Why The WiZ gets pains in his round-and-fuzzies when someone

A message on the West Coast Pyro Board and a recent article in "Special F/X
Newsletter" have made mention of the use of Sodium Chlorate. There are
one hundred and two really good reasons why this oxidizer has not found

Reasons number; one, two, three - # 100 - IT IS NOT SAFE MIXED WITH

Added: Sodium chlorate is commonly used in "oxygen candles" and Solidex
rods for welding. However, I doubt that anyone would undertake home
brew of these devices.


Case in point -- 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.)

A 1979 edition of the German medical journal "Plastische Chirugie" (Plastic
surgery) contain an article entitled: Mikrochirurgisch-plasticsche Versorgung
der explosionsverletzten Hand. (Mico-plastic surgery for severe explosion
injury to the hand.) "During the last two years, 16 severe explosion injuries of
the hand have been treated with plastic microsurgery in our hospital. The
injury had arisen in seven cases FROM THE MIXTURE SUGAR + SODIUM
CHLORATE. This substance mixture may already be caused to explode by
slight vibrations and the warmth of the hands."

Photos accompanying the article show either; a victims hand, or a squirrel
that met a eighteen wheel'r while crossing the interstate! No doubt an
amazing bit of surgery. Well; I guess .... two and a half fingers, and a toe are
better then no hand! Must have hurt a bit though.

What we have here is a classic case of a low melting point fuel and a low
melting point oxidizer. A combination likely to be more then a little

By-the-by, one of the other cases was the resulted of the mixing Potassium
chlorate and red phosphorus. (For further info on this combination, see my
three articles in the American Fireworks News.)

Reason one-hundred-one is -- it is hygroscopic. (Which may explain its
sensitivity. For it is believed that the cycle of; absorption of moisture followed
by drying creates large unstable crystals, a' la lead azide.)

Reason one-hundred-two is -- It contains (obviously) Sodium, which will
create a strong yellow light obliterating other colors.

While POTASSIUM chlorate has been used to good effect as an igniter &c.
when mixed with table sugar, and in combination with lactose for smoke
mixtures, it is NEVER to be combined with finely powdered sugar such as
confectionery sugar. For, combustion maybe a lot faster than you planned on.
To your great regret.

Added THE WiZ 16 XI 89

In the FDR the BKA (Bunderskriminalamt) reports (Werner Wildner. New
Measurements Studies on the Effects of The IEDS. In- Proceeding of the
International Symposium of the Analysis and Detections of Explosives, FBI
Academy Quantico, Virginia March 29-31, 1983.) "..... a very common home-
made explosive in the German crime scene. It consists of a herbicide
containing sodium chlorate with 25% sodium chloride, and of sugar.

Ellern lists two possible comps —

Ellern #201
Sodium Chlorate 92%
Barium Peroxide 4
Steel Wool Grade 2 Or 00 4

Oxygen Candle
Ellern #202
Lithium Perchlorate 84.82
Lithium Peroxide 4.24
Manganese Metal 10.94

The lithium version is not used.

Making potassium chlorate from bleach (4% solution of calcium hypochlorite) is more trouble then worth. search term “chlorate candle” yields 38 hits.

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International Hazard

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[*] posted on 10-2-2014 at 09:12

Hi Don, good to see you back in the fold.

Sodium chlorate was what I messed about with in my schooldays!
How I managed to not lose digits, or worse, is beyond me . . .

Steel pipe-bombs closed by hammering the ends shut and fuse-holes punched by nail, all after filling with either SC/sugar or impregnated newspaper!

[Edited on 10-2-2014 by hissingnoise]
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