Chemistry experiments

This last week, for the first time since 2005, I had both an idea for increasing the sensitivity of Boomerite and the inclination to test it. Son-in-law Caleb was eager to go with me and we planned an experiment which I hoped would reduce the activation energy to get detonation. Tim also expressed an interest so on Saturday I loaded up the car with a lunch and my test tools (a chronograph and a Ruger 10/22).

Caleb wasn’t feeling well but Tim went with me and we performed a bunch of experiments. We mixed up the standard mix for a control and got the expected results. The next mix demonstrated that my “great idea” was a total bust. It was still morning and the entire series of experiments I had planned was pointless. I looked around on the “top shelf” in the Taj and saw something I hadn’t tested in the mix before-sulfur. So we first added 20 grams of sulfur to a batch of Boomerite. It seemed to help.

We added 40 grams and it was definitely more sensitive.

We added 80 grams and it didn’t seem to make much, if any, difference from the 40 grams.

We mixed up a batch for storage testing and locked it in the magazine for safe keeping.

After arriving home that night, just as I drove in the driveway I remembered why I had never done those tests with sulfur before. Even minor impurities of sulfur mixed with potassium chlorate and moisture can cause a runaway reaction resulting in a fire. Spontaneous combustion of explosives just sounds so wrong. And I had forgotten that.

I rationalized that it was cold (near freezing) and that lack of moisture in the zip-lock bags probably would keep the Taj Mahal from going up in flames before morning and I was able to get some sleep.

The next morning (yesterday) Barb and I drove the hour out to the site, removed the five pounds of “New Boomerite” from the storage magazine and burned it.

Well, at least Tim and I had a little bit of fun converting money into noise.

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