Dynamite: A Glimpse of What Lies Ahead

May 2021


Do you know what dynamite does? Dynamite is a tool that people use in order to break down large pieces of rock. The user typically inserts dynamite into holes in rocks, or it will be detonated on the surface. Dynamite can also be made into structural shapes in order to brace and reinforce fissures or cracks, like when it's used during coal mining operations.


The term "dynamite" comes from a Greek word meaning "power". Explosives gain their power from oxygen being given off by fuels such as nitroglycerin and black powder. Other common explosives used by people include gunpowder and C-4.


There are various types of dynamite, including military, agricultural, and commercial. Military dynamite is made specifically for use as ammunition. Commercial dynamite is commonly used as industrial strength explosive that is used to break down rock in order to access natural resources beneath it.


Dynamite was initially a relatively simple process to make because black powder was easily available and cheaply produced. As time went on, technology improved dramatically in terms of both the amount of explosives that could be manufactured relatively cheaply, but also the ingenuity in the methods used to produce them. Today's engineers have discovered how to use high pressure carbon dioxide gas to produce large amounts of explosives with minimal effort.


There are many different types of explosives in existence, both in the military and commercial arenas. The explosive that is commonly used by people around the world is nitroglycerin. Nitroglycerin was originally developed as an analgesic for humans. Originally, it was produced using plant derivatives that were later refined through chemical reactions. Dynamite was used to make nitroglycerin more powerful and reliable, and the resulting product became known as dynamite (note how the word "dynamite" appears to derive from the Greek word "dynamis", meaning "power").


Today, nitroglycerin is commonly produced for use by people trying to manufacture explosives such as C-4 plastic explosive or blasting caps. It is also used by people in order to make dynamite. Nitroglycerin consists of glycerin and nitric acid, which are mixed together and then heated up. Nitroglycerin has between 60-80% nitric acid and 25-40% glycerin.


As far as the physical properties of nitroglycerin, it is a fairly unstable molecule that can only exist at atmospheric pressure. When the chemical reaction that produces it starts, the glycerin will quickly vaporize into a relatively harmless form of water vapor called steam. The nitric acid will then dissociate into nitrogen gas and hydrogen gas. Because of these properties, explosions caused by powdered dynamite are very powerful.


The chemical reaction that creates nitroglycerin during dynamite production is very sensitive. The mixture must be stored at temperatures between 40 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit in order to prevent it from exploding on its own. Because of this, dynamite must be manufactured using high temperature equipment such as kilns or furnaces.


During the mixing process (which is commonly referred to as "cooking"), a chemical reaction takes place that produces more nitric acid and less glycerin. This means that there is more available nitroglycerin for the final product to use when it undergoes its final explosive reactions in order to become dynamite.


Dynamite comes in many different shapes and sizes, with some being more powerful than others. The most common forms of dynamite are blasting caps, which are shaped like a spherical shell. They have special designs on the outside that make them small enough to fit inside a blasting charge. Blasting caps have different shapes and different sizes as well, depending on their intended use.


The most common type of blasting cap is called "torpedo-shaped". These are round or oval shaped explosives that have an opening in the middle made specifically to allow a small charge to be inserted into them later on during the manufacturing process. The charge is placed into the cap in order for it to detonate at room temperature or below (the temperature at which dynamite exists and functions best).

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