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Q: What reaction happens when this mixture occurs? ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   2 Comments )
Subject: What reaction happens when this mixture occurs?
Category: Science > Chemistry
Asked by: wroawboots-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 31 Mar 2004 18:14 PST
Expires: 30 Apr 2004 19:14 PDT
Question ID: 323272
I need to talk about the science used in a book I'm reading. In one
scene, a boy constructs a bomb after getting people to gather
fertilizer, pesticide, kerosene, sulfur, and charcoal. He then
performed some sort of work with these
ingredients and was going to set it off. It was shot before he could
and it blew up prematurely. What reactions happened that caused the
explosion. Please, this is my last paragraph!
Subject: Re: What reaction happens when this mixture occurs?
Answered By: skermit-ga on 31 Mar 2004 18:45 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
The main ingredient in fertilizer which is used in home made bomb
making is ammonium nitrate. It is such a good oxidizer it's actually
been used in some forms for rocket fuel (see link below), and also in
commercial explosive production. The insecticide was added for its
potassium nitrate, and after combining all the ingredients, you have
one of the oldest recipes for black powder which dates back to the
Chinese for use in colorful displays, and then eventually for mortars,
and then in the west for bullets, cannons, etc. If you're interested
in the chemistry behind it, I would ask you to read up on Reduction
Oxidation (RedOx) chemistry, and most highschool/college level
textbooks will have a chapter or two on it at least. If you're
interested, here's the chemical forumla for this reaction:

20KNO*3(s) + 32C(s) +8S(s) ---> 5K*2CO*3(s) + K*2SO*4(s) + K*2SO*3(s)
+ 3K*2S(s) + 2S(s) + 11CO*2(g) + 16CO(g) + 10N*2(g)

*the numbers right after each asterisk are subscript and the letters
in parenthesis signify the physical state of that component

For the purposes of keeping this easily found recipe out of another
place where kids and the like could find it, I'll just tell you that
companies are actively trying to nutralize the ammonium nitrate in
fertilizer so that it's chemically inert for use in bombs and the like
(see link below). The reason why the explosion occured is that like
some accelerants and propellants, black powder may be listed as
"stable" and not prone to spontaneous combustion, but if mixed up in
the wrong proportions, or left to sit for too long, it may turn
unstable, and compression or other shock may set it off.

Additional Links:

ammonium nitrate as a rocket propellant:

fertilizer manufacturers trying to make bomb-safe fertilizer:

The last thing I'd like to ask you is, were you by chance reading
Battle Royale by Koushun Takami? It was a pleasure to answer your
question, and if you have more questions, your best bet is to hit the


Request for Answer Clarification by wroawboots-ga on 31 Mar 2004 18:51 PST
Yes, it is Battle Royale :) my absolute favorite book! Just to
clarify, why did shinji use the kerosene, sulfur and chalcoal? I
assume it was to ignite the chemicals to trigger the blast?

and by the way, your my best friend for answring this!

Clarification of Answer by skermit-ga on 31 Mar 2004 19:13 PST
I'm glad I could answer the question, and even more glad you're
reading one of my favorite books too! The kerosene was to have a fuel
to burn with the oxidizers, and the sulfur and charcoal were to fill
out the recipe for black powder. He also used a blasting cap remember
to detonante it, the one his uncle gave him...

wroawboots-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
omg thank you

Subject: Re: What reaction happens when this mixture occurs?
From: seijaku-ga on 31 Mar 2004 19:09 PST
How freaky, just as I was reading that post, I thought it was BAttle
Royale. I watched the movie about four days ago... Talk about spooky
Subject: Re: What reaction happens when this mixture occurs?
From: wroawboots-ga on 31 Mar 2004 19:13 PST
heh, i just got the movies yesterday. i loved the book SO much. it
even inspired my email address and my friend's too. im
:numberfivekawada, and he's numbersixkiriyama. heh, shogo rules.
Anyway, does anyone know about the additional ingrediants?

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