Almost all modern explosives are a derivative of a nitric acid base.
Although fuming nitric acid (98 percent solution in water) is not an explosive
in itself, it is explosive when mixed with many other compounds. This process
of mixing a compound with nitric acid chemically is called the nitrating
principle. The best-known nitrating agent is glycerin, but many others can
be and are used. Mercury, sugar, cork, wheat germ, sawdust, starch, lard, and
indigo are all common nitrating agents and are used in modern industry. For
example when sawdustis nitrated, it becomes nitrocellulose, and is used in
smokeless powder. Mercury fulminate (nitrated mercury) is a very powerful and
Nitroglycerin is a high explosive, with an incredibly unstable nature. It
can explode for the most minute reasons, such as a change of one or two degrees
in temperature, or a minor shock. Because of nitroglycerin's unstable nature,
I would suggest that only people with an extensive background training in both
chemistry and explosives try this procedure.
1. Fill a 75-milliliter beaker, to the 13-ml. level, with fuming red nitric
acid, of 98 percent concentration.
2. Place beaker in an ice bath and allow to cool below room temperature.
3. After it is cooled, add to it three times the amount of fuming sulfuric
acid (99 percent). In other words, add to the now-cool fuming nitric
acid 39 milliliters of fuming sulfuric acid. When mixing any acids,
always do it slowing and carefully to avoid splattering.
4. When the two are mixed, lower their temperature, by adding more ice to
the bath, to about 10 or 15 degrees Centegrade. This can be measured
by using a mercury-operated Centegrade thermometer.
5. When the acid solution has cooled to the desired temperature, it is
ready for the glycerin. The glyverin MUST BE ADDED IN SMALL AMOUNTS
USING A MEDICINE DROPPER. Glycerin is added, slowly and carefully,
until the entire surface of the acid is covered with it.
6. This is a dangerous point, since the nitration will take place as soon
as the glycerin is added. The nitration will produce heat, so the
solution MUST BE KEPT BELOW 30 DEGREES C. If the solution should go
above 30 degrees, the beaker should be taken out of the ice bath and
the solution should be carefully poured directly into the ice bath,
since this will prevent an explosion.
7. For about the first ten minutes of the nitration, the mixture should
be gently stirred. In a normal reaction, the nitroglycerin will form as
a layer ontop of the acid solution, while the sulfuric acid will absorb
the excess water.
8. After the nitration has taken place and the nitroglycerin has formed at
the top of the acid solution, the entire beaker should be transferred
very slowly and carefully to another beaker of water. When this is done,
the nitroglycerin will settle to the bottom, so that most of the acid
solution can be drained away.
9. After removing as much acid as possible without disturbing the nitro-
glycerin, remove the nitroglycerin with an eyedropper and place it in a
bicarbonate of soda (sodium bicarbonate) solution. The sodium
bicarbonate is an alkali and will neutralize much of the acid remaining.
This process should be repeated as many times as necessary using blue
litmus paper to check for the presence of acid. The remaining acid only
make the nitroglycerin more unstable than is normally is.
10. The final step is to remove the nitroglycerin from the bicarbonate.
This is done with an eyedropper, slowly and carefully. The usual test
to see if nitration has been successful is to place one drop of the
nitroglycerin on a metal plate and ignite it. If it is true nitro-
glycerin, it will burn with a clear bule flame. CAUTION: Nitroglycerin
is EXTREMELY sensitive to decomposition, heating, dropping, or jarring,
and may explode even if left undisturbed and cool. KNOW WHAT YOU ARE
DOING BEFORE YOU DO IT!!!!!