How does explosives detonate?

An explosive will detonate because of a chemical reaction caused by the heating of a fuse or an electrical charge. Usually causing a shockwave that causes detonation. Boosters or primers are typically used to help the detonation process.

The answer is simple. Hydro carbon fires nor jet Fuel burn hot enough to detonate a high explosive device.
Explosive material
[14.0] Explosives

“In high explosives, such as TNT, the explosion propagates by a supersonic “detonation”, driven by the breakdown of the molecular structure of the material. An explosive can be characterized by the amount of energy it releases when detonated, as well as by its shearing and shock effect, or “brisage”.”

Explosives, incendiaries, pyrotechnic devices, and fireworks can be ignited by flame, friction, impact, electrical shock, high ambient temperatures, or even a laser beam. In general, high explosives are designed to be insensitive. They can’t be set off by a flame or spark, and have to be set off by a shock from a detonator.

Certain metals, such as magnesium, aluminum, zirconium, and uranium, ignite at very high temperatures and burn very hot, releasing large amounts of energy. For this reason, aluminum powder is sometimes added to explosives to enhance blast effect, and magnesium is used to build bright flares.”


Detonators have traditionally been made from “fulminate of mercury”. This is a salt of “fulminic acid (HCNO)”, which is a dangerous and unstable liquid explosive, with the formula Hg(CNO)2. Apparently there are a series of metal fulminates, such as silver fulminate, that are more powerful but are generally too unstable to be safely handled.”
Blasting and the Use of Explosives
Military High Explosives

“1.3. Trends and New Products
The latest developments try to increase the safety of the explosive products while handling and in case of fire or other unwanted external influences like impact, falling and being fired on.”

“2.1. General Aspects
The start of a detonation is normally performed by a primary explosive which
produces a detonation wave when decomposed. These compounds have low activation energy. Impact, friction, electric sparks or sudden heating can initiate the decomposition”
Stockton police, FBI detonate explosives as part of bomb training
“As part of a training course, the Stockton Police Department and the FBI’s Sacramento Division organized an explosives demonstration Sept. 17, detonating a host of different bombs.”


Mercury(II) fulminate

“Mercury(II) fulminate, or Hg(CNO)2, is a primary explosive. It is highly sensitive to friction and shock and is mainly used as a trigger for other explosives in percussion caps and blasting caps.”
Explosive Materials

A booster is an explosive charge that provides the
detonation link in the explosive train between the
very sensitive primary explosive (detonator) and the
comparatively insensitive main charge (high
“2.2. Primary Explosives and Their Properties
Lead azide, Pb(N3)2, was developed after World War I and is now the most commonly used material for detonators.”
Unraveling the Mystery of Detonation (LLNL Source)

“About 20 years ago, less sensitive high explosives were developed that have significantly improved the safety and survivability of munitions, weapons, and personnel. TATB (1,3,5-triamino-2,4,6-trinitrobenzene), for instance, is virtually invulnerable to significant energy release in plane crashes, fires, and explosions or to deliberate attack with small arms fire. But this extreme insensitivity has its drawbacks. Initiating a TATB detonation is not easy.”
13.3 Explosives Detonation

“The detonation wave from the blasting cap would cause detonation of the dynamite. To make a large hole in the earth, an inexpensive explosive such as ANFO might be used. In this case, the detonation wave from the blasting cap is not powerful enough to cause detonation, so a booster must be used in a 3- or 4-step

“Detonating cords are common parts of many explosive devices. These are plastic tubes filled with powdered explosive, usually PETN (pentaerythritol tetranitrate), commonly used to link charges through the transmission of the detonation shock wave or as the explosive charge themselves. Explosive devices will often contain boosters, components which amplify and transmit the shockwave between the detonator and main charge. Many bombs require some kind of trigger to initiate the detonation, so timers or remote control devices are commonly used. These start the initial charge, which then goes on to ignite the explosive and detonate the bomb.”


(Pic link: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=140608139289655&)



C-4 or Composition C-4 is a common variety of the plastic explosive known as Composition C.

Composition and manufacture

C4 is made up of explosives, plastic binder, plasticizer and usually marker or odorizing taggant chemicals such as 2,3-dimethyl-2,3-dinitrobutane (DMDNB) to help detect the explosive and identify its source.[1]

The explosive in C4 is RDX (cyclonite or cyclotrimethylene trinitramine), which makes up around 91% of C4 by mass. The plasticizer is diethylhexyl (5.3%)[1] or dioctyl sebacate and the binder is usually polyisobutylene (2.1%).[1] Another plasticizer used is dioctyl adipate (DOA). A small amount of SAE 10 non-detergent motor oil (1.6%) is also added.
C4 is manufactured by combining the noted ingredients with binder dissolved in a solvent. The solvent is then evaporated and the mixture dried and filtered. The final material is an off-white solid with a texture similar to modelling clay.

Characteristics and uses:

C4 has a detonation velocity of 8,092 m/s (26,550 ft/s).


A major advantage of C4 is that it can easily be molded into any desired shape. C4 can be pressed into gaps, cracks, holes and voids in buildings, bridges, equipment or machinery. Similarly, it can easily be inserted into empty shaped charge cases of the type used by military engineers.

C4 is very stable and insensitive to most physical shocks. C4 cannot be detonated by a gunshot or by dropping it onto a hard surface. It does not explode when set on fire or exposed to microwave radiation. Detonation can only be initiated by a combination of extreme heat and a shockwave, such as when a detonator inserted into it is fired.”
How C-4 Works

70 Grams = 3 oz

Bomb Explanation of C4



RDX, an initialism for Research Department Explosive, is an explosive nitroamine widely used in military and industrial applications. It was developed as an explosive which was more powerful than TNT, and it saw wide use in WWII. RDX is also known as cyclonite, hexogen (particularly in German and German-influenced languages), and T4. Its chemical name is cyclotrimethylenetrinitramine; name variants include cyclotrimethylene-trinitramine and cyclotrimethylene trinitramine.

In its pure, synthesized state RDX is a white, crystalline solid. It is often used in mixtures with other explosives and plasticizers, phlegmatizers or desensitizers. RDX is stable in storage and is considered one of the most powerful and brisant of the military high explosives.


The velocity of detonation of RDX at a density of 1.76 g/cm³ is 8750 m/s.
It is a colourless solid, of crystal density 1.82 g/cm³. It is obtained by reacting concentrated nitric acid with hexamine.

(CH2)6N4 + 10HNO3 → (CH2-N-NO2)3 + 3CH2(ONO2)2 + NH4NO3 + 3H2O


TNT (Trinitrotoluene)

Trinitrotoluene ( /ˌtraɪnaɪtrɵˈtɒljʉ.iːn/; TNT), or more specifically, 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene, is a chemical compound with the formula C6H2(NO2)3CH3. This yellow-colored solid is sometimes used as a reagent in chemical synthesis, but it is best known as a useful explosive material with convenient handling properties. The explosive yield of TNT is considered to be the standard measure of strength of bombs and other explosives. In chemistry, TNT is used to generate charge transfer salts.


In industry, TNT is produced in a three-step process. First, toluene is nitrated with a mixture of sulfuric and nitric acid to produce mono-nitrotoluene or MNT. The MNT is separated and then renitrated to dinitrotoluene or DNT. In the final step, the DNT is nitrated to trinitrotoluene or TNT using an anhydrous mixture of nitric acid and oleum. Nitric acid is consumed by the manufacturing process, but the diluted sulfuric acid can be reconcentrated and reused.

Explosive character

It is a common misconception that TNT and dynamite are the same, or that dynamite contains TNT. In fact, whereas TNT is a specific chemical compound, dynamite is an absorbent mixture soaked in nitroglycerin that is compressed into a cylindrical shape and wrapped in paper.
Upon detonation, TNT decomposes as follows:

2 C7H5N3O6 → 3 N2 + 5 H2O + 7 CO + 7 C
2 C7H5N3O6 → 3 N2 + 5 H2 + 12 CO + 2 C



Dynamite is an explosive material based on nitroglycerin, initially using diatomaceous earth (kieselgur: American spelling; kieselguhr: British spelling), or another absorbent substance such as powdered shells, clay, sawdust, or wood pulp. Dynamites using organic materials such as sawdust are less stable and such use has been generally discontinued. Dynamite was invented by the Swedish chemist and engineer Alfred Nobel in Krümmel (Geesthacht, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany), and patented in 1867. Its name is derived from Greek roots δύναμις dýnamis that literally mean “connected with power.”

Dynamite is usually sold in the form of sticks about 8 in (20 cm) long and about 1.25 in (3.2 cm) in diameter, with a weight of about 0.5 lb (0.23 kg).[1] Other sizes also exist. The maximum shelf life of nitroglycerin-based dynamite is recommended as one year from the date of manufacture under good storage conditions.


Shaped charge

A shaped charge is an explosive charge shaped to focus the effect of the explosive’s energy. Various types are used to cut and form metal, to initiate nuclear weapons, to penetrate armor, and to “complete” wells in the oil and gas industry. A typical modern lined shaped charge can penetrate armor steel to a depth of 7 or more times the diameter of the charge (charge diameters, CD), though greater depths of 10 CD and above have been achieved. Contrary to a widespread misconception, the shaped charge does not depend in any way on heating or melting for its effectiveness, that is, the jet from a shaped charge does not melt its way through armor, as its effect is purely kinetic in nature.

Non-military applications

In non-military applications shaped charges are used in explosive demolition of buildings and structures, in particular for cutting through metal piles, columns and beams and for boring holes. In steelmaking, small shaped charges are often used to pierce taps that have become plugged with slag. They are also used in quarrying, breaking up ice, breaking log jams, felling trees, and drilling post holes.

Shaped charges are used most extensively in the petroleum and natural gas industries, in particular in the completion of oil and gas wells, in which they are detonated to perforate the metal casing of the well at intervals to admit the influx of oil and gas.

Shaped Charge Explosion Compared to WTC Explosion on 911

Shaped Charge Technology

Shaped Charges and the World Trade Center Collapses


“Ignition of a thermite reaction normally requires a sparkler or easily obtainable magnesium ribbon, but may require persistent efforts, as ignition can be unreliable and unpredictable. These temperatures cannot be reached with conventional black powder fuses, nitrocellulose rods, detonators, pyrotechnic initiators, or other common igniting substances.[13] Even when the thermite is hot enough to glow bright red, it will not ignite as it must be at or near white-hot to initiate the reaction.[citation needed] It is possible to start the reaction using a propane torch if done correctly”



REGION: Officials say explosives in house will burn, not detonate

“So, given all its contents, won’t a raging fireball spread from the single-story home once it’s ignited?

Vent and other chemistry experts say, emphatically, “No.”

And here’s why:

When exposed to fire, explosives break down and vaporize rather than detonate, at least when they’re not confined. A blast results when gas tries to escape a container faster than that container allows.

Many of the volatile materials are in piles throughout the house and thus are expected to safely burn off.

As fire reaches the explosives, oxygen molecules are ripped away, leaving the previously volatile structures inert, Vent explained.

A very hot fire helps ensure the materials will burn off. Authorities plan to make the blaze hot —- 1,800 degrees hot. They’ll also cut holes in the roof and open windows to ensure the gas and smoke escape.

“You force the reaction to go to burn rather than detonation,” said Jimmie Oxley, a chemistry professor and director of a Department of Homeland Security explosives detection and response center at the University of Rhode Island.”

So how did it go?

Burning Down The House

““It was a textbook lesson in the value of all of the money that the U.S. government has spent following Sept. 11 in preparing our first responders to handle something really bad,” said Neal Langerman, founder of Advanced Chemical Safety and organizer of the symposium.”

“On Thursday, Dec. 9, the day of the burn, everything went perfectly.”

San Diego House Is Burned Down, for Safety’s Sake

Explosive-laden home is burned down (VIDEO)
‘Bomb factory’ house leveled by controlled fire

“ESCONDIDO (CNS) – A North County home packed with illegal explosives and weapons was demolished Thursday in a spectacular controlled burn deemed the only safe way to get rid of the volatile chemicals.

San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore praised the unusual demolition, which necessitated large-scale evacuations and a highway closure, as an unqualified success.

“I don’t think this could have gone any better,” Gore told reporters.”

“The controlled burn resulted in temperatures of 1,500 to 1,800 degrees, enough heat enough to neutralize all the dangerous chemicals discovered throughout it, said San Marcos Fire Chief Todd Newman, one of the supervisors of the operation.”


Massive Bomb Detonated in Syria
Examples of Truck Bombs

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