PowerLabs Lead Styphnate Synthesis


Lead Styphnate is currently one of the most widely used initiating compounds (this is expected to change in the near future due to the toxity of lead); it is used in most bullet primers and blasting caps to sensitize Lead Azide, which would not otherwise be reliably initiated from the impact with the gun hammer, or would have a significant fraction of it lost before DDT occurred. There are two forms of lead styphnate: six-sided monohydrate crystals and small rectangular crystals. Lead styphnate varies in color from yellow to brown and  is particularly sensitive to fire and the discharge of static electricity, being the most sensitive explosive in this category; when dry, it can be reliably detonated by static discharges from the human body, requiring only 0,004J for that to occur. The longer and narrower the crystals, the more susceptible lead styphnate is to static electricity. Lead styphnate does not react with metals and is less sensitive to shock and friction than mercury fulminate or lead azide. Lead styphnate is only slightly soluble in water and methyl alcohol and may be neutralized by a sodium carbonate solution.  It is stable in storage, even at elevated temperatures.
 Lead styphnate is a VERY SENSITIVE explosive and its synthesis should be performed only by professionals working under laboratory conditions.




Lead Oxide (PbO(s))

250mL Glass beaker.

Styphnic Acid (C6H3N3O8)


Methanol (CH3OH(l))

Stirring Rod 


Since Styphnic acid is very similar to Picric Acid, the procedure used was the same as the one successfully employed in the synthesis of Lead Picrate:  A saturated solution of Styphnic acid in methanol was formed and to it Lead Monoxide was added. Heating was continued whilst stirring until a solid mass remained;

C6H3N3O8(s) + PbO(s) => PbC6H2N3O8(s).

The final product is a yellow/brown colored mass of crystals.

The product detonates from friction and impact but is less sensitive than other primers such as Mercury Fulminate. It detonates VIOLENTLY from flame without any need for confinement. 1/3rd of a teaspoon was used for this video and the spoon was contorted in 3 different places and blasted across the room, where it chipped a bit of plaster from the ceiling. (122kb, .mpg). There is no visible flame during detonation, which is probably due to the high velocity. A faint lilac/purple flame should be visible if larger quantities are detonated, though this was not captured on camera (2 attempts). The sound in this video is distorted because the explosion was much too loud for the microphone and exceeded its range. The real explosion sound is more of a crack than the scratch that is heard on the video.