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Thermite

Note: Thermite is a dangerous pyrotechnic mixture. I am not a licensed professional; I am merely a pyrotechnic hobbyist. If you plan on experimenting with thermite, be sure to research safety precautions of making, storing, reacting, and cleaning-up thermite. Also, be sure to check with your local law-enforcement agency to see if thermite is legal in your area.

Thermite is the chemical mixture of fine-powered iron oxide and aluminum in about a 3:1 ratio, respectfully. When the two reactants are thoroughly mixed, the reaction can be triggered by igniting the thermite. Since the activation energy for the thermite reaction is abnormally high (in respect to other pyrotechnic mixtures), a magnesium ribbon fuse (which burns at ~4,000°F) is often used. The products of the thermite reaction are aluminum-oxide (gas) and iron (liquid). The molten iron that is produced is ~4,500°F.

It took me about a year of on-and-off research and experimentation to finally do my first home-made thermite reaction (actually, I had to borrow <100g of a friend's store-bought thermite to ignite the reaction due to presumed impurities of my iron oxide).

Without further ado, here's the video of my first thermite reaction: (oh, and I apologize for the shakiness of this film; I was NOT the cameraman)

A word to the wise: even if you are well within your legal right to experiment with thermite (as you probably are), don’t go probing for questions to your high-school chemistry teachers. I know from personal experience that this is the fastest way to wind up in a student-parent-teacher conference with the principal, vice-principal, school cop, and a member of the local bomb-squad.

In the future, I plan on writing DIYs on home-made aluminum and iron-oxide powders.

1 comment to Thermite

  • Oh wow this sure brings back fun and frightening memories if thermite and run-ins with law enforcement. I’m sorry that I was such a shaky camera guy, next time you can film it yourself. Funny how you didn’t mention a single thing about how we almost got arrested that night, I feel its worth mentioning!

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