ChemLabs’ main purpose is to supply the means of carrying out all of PowerLabs’ chemical procedure needs. It has served for electroplating, metal etching, fuel production / oxidizer production, and others. ChemLabs plays a key role in all of PowerLabs’ rocket research, plasma research, is used to produce fuel for my model planes, and has been in the past used for energetics research.
It should be noted on going through the list of experiments/demonstrations outlined here that most of them involve very serious hazards, either in the form of the chemicals utilized, in the procedures, or in the final products yielded by them. Due to that, these procedures have been written up entirely as illustrations-only, not as a how-to guide. None of the experiments below should be attempted by unqualified individuals working outside of laboratory conditions, and these procedures should not in any circumstances be followed. No claims are made as to the accuracy of these procedures, nor are the safety precautions all-inclusive.
The reason why most of the experiments are so hazardous is because the intent here has been to show people the practical, interesting side of chemistry. Anyone can watch crystals grow or solutions change color in chemistry class, but the synthesis of energetic materials seems to be expressly forbidden in didactic laboratories and most chemists major without ever having seen it happen. PowerLabs here makes available for educational purposes that which you would otherwise not have access to.
On a more personal note, it is hoped that individuals will satisfy their curiosity by looking at these pages and not go on to try the experiments out by themselves. A quick search for “bombs” or “explosives” or any related word on any major Internet search engine will result in countless pages spreading some of the most stupid, ignorant, and misinformed procedures I have ever laid my eyes upon. This irritates me a great deal because anyone attempting these procedures will be putting themselves and those around them to great danger, and countless accidents have already happened and will continue to happen from people attempting things they see on the Internet. Removing those pages will not solve the problem; new ones will always come to replace them. Having reliable information will not solve the problem either, but it will certainly not aggravate it, and may even be beneficial in that people’s curiosities will be satisfied without the need for them to try it out for themselves. I am not enticing anyone to attempt any of this, I am only showing how it has been made to work safely. As such, the warning remains: PLEASE DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!
Nitrocellulose synthesis: From varnishes to plastics, rocket fuels and explosives, a full illustrated procedure outlining the different forms of nitration to produce this very useful industrial product. Included are videos of two different forms of NC deflagrating.
Nitro Starch synthesis: A chemical compound similar to Nitrocellulose, and like it capable of deflagration. This compound presented special challenges in purification; the final, successful procedure is outlined and a video showing the deflagration is available.
Nitromannitol synthesis: A nitrated simple sugar, capable of deflagration from flame and detonation from impact.
Nitroglycerine synthesis: One of the first high explosives ever created, it still finds a lot of uses as dynamite in mining and road construction.
Picric Acid synthesis: A chemical very similar to TNT, found in most laboratories nowadays, useful as a dye, or as a starting base for metal picrates such as those found in the L.E. section. Also capable of detonation. Video of combustion available.
Styphnic Acid synthesis: A PowerLabs exclusive; chemically similar to Picric Acid, but more reactive and prone to initiation, this is the starting chemical for the synthesis of Lead Styphnate, the number one priming compound used nowadays. Includes video of final compound deflagration.
PETN: This compound sports one of the highest detonation velocities of any explosives known and is used in DetCord.
Mercury, Silver and Copper Fulminate synthesis: Some of the earliest explosives ever discovered, fulminates detonate violently on flame, impact, or friction, even unconfined. Videos available, as well as further information on more exotic (gold, platinum, double) fulminates.
Silver and Copper Acetylide synthesis: Acetylide and Carbide salts are notoriously explosive. Capable of DDT in even single crystal amounts. Videos available.
Mercury and Silver Oxalate synthesis: A chemical curiosity. Self decomposes on heating and is said to be explosive. A PowerLabs exclusive with video.
Lead Picrate synthesis: Useful as a priming compound. Detonates from flame; video.
Potassium Picrate synthesis: Chemical curiosity; one of the more powerful/sensitive picrates; Deflagrates from flame.
Lead Styphnate synthesis: PowerLabs exclusive: the number one priming compound used nowadays. Detonates violently from flame, as seen on video.
Potassium Styphnate synthesis: Chemically similar to Lead Styphnate, deflagrates violently to form a spectacular fireball on video.
Explosive Peroxides: Tricyclopropanone Triperoxide, Benzoyl Peroxide and HMTD (Hexametylene Triperoxide Diamine).
PowerLabs overview of Deflagrating chemicals, and Potassium Bromate oxidizer demo: A very powerful deflagrating compound is produced with KBrO3 to demonstrate its oxidizing powers. It burns faster than blackpowder when initiated by a drop of sulphuric acid (video).
Sodium Metal in Water: The demo we all saw at school, done in PowerLabs scale 🙂
Chlorate Oxidizers: The readiness with which Potassium and Sodium Chlorate give up their oxygen is demonstrated in two deflagration reactions, one including an M&Ms chocolate, on video!
Potassium Permanganate Hypergol: 3 different versions of a a classic self starting chemical delayed deflagration, with different delays (video!).
Sodium Peroxide Hypergols: Na2O2 is such a powerful oxidizer that on contact with paper or cotton it deflagrates with enough heat to break and melt a Pyrex beaker! (video).
Vesuvian Volcano (Ammonium Dichromate self decomposition): A chemistry lecture classic, on video.
Industrial grade (70%) HydroFluoric acid on glass: 70% HF will eat through a small test tube in under a minute, and generate enough heat to boil in the process! (video).
ChemLabs had the following reactants at its disposal. Notice how no inherently unstable materials are stored; this is vitally important; even in industrial laboratories terrible accidents have happened and continue to happen due to the storage of energetic materials and such accidents are even more common in home laboratories. The only way to ensure that an unstable compound does not explode in storage is to not store it in the first place. With the reactants below it is possible by acid/base neutralization or nucleophilic substitution to produce virtually any fluoride/chloride/phosphate/sulphate/nitrate/acetylide/fulminate/fuel-oxidizer deflagrant mixture, as needed. It is also possible to produce many other chemicals using the ones outlined below as a starting base (in fact several of the chemicals below were produced in such a way).
It is always vital to be thoroughly familiar with a chemical before attempting to utilize it for any synthesis or procedure. For this reason, selected MSDS (Materials Safety Data Sheets) are linked from the name of each chemical below. Never attempt to work with unknown chemicals or chemicals at unknown concentrations before reading about all of its properties and incompatibilities.
(Notice: These chemicals made up part of ChemLabs. They were not for sale nor do I still posses them). DO NOT CONTACT ME ATTEMPTING TO BUY CHEMICALS. I DO NOT SELL CHEMICALS NOR DO I KNOW WHERE TO BUY THEM FROM IN WHATEVER COUNTRY/STATE YOU HAPPEN TO LIVE IN.
To obtain most of the chemicals listed below, be sure to visit our sponsor (and tell them PowerLabs sent you):