Warning, Warning, Warning Explosive mixture

Stew

Well-Known Member
Wow. I hadn't thought about this before, despite knowing about thermite!

As thermite is the subject, here's a thermite video I filmed at a hammer-in a few years back....



It makes me smile when I watch it. :D
 

Ironwolf

The Knife Poet
Man,my butt chews a big ol' hole straight through my britches into the seat cushions when
I think of someone gettin' some of that on them...
Getting caught in a fire is 'bout the only thing in the world that makes me sweat,
but something like that,it'll EAT you to the bone and keep on goin'...
 

Les George

Admin - Founding Member
Few things give me a smile like Thermite!

Not the kinda thing that you want to make on accident though, burning metal on your hand is kinda like having a 3000 deg booger on you hand that you just can't shake off! :)
 

Delbert Ealy

Forum Owner-Moderator - Founder
I have made thermite on purpose and it wasn't the lightly packed stuff on the video above, this is serious stuff and it is very difficult to put out. You just have to let it burn out. The reason is that metallic aluminium isn't very happy being that way, it likes to be an oxide much more. Iron oxidizes when you grind it, and it picks up a lot of it, so the aluminium in contact with the iron oxide steals the oxygen from the iron like a jealous lover, in fact its so hungry for oxy that it will steal it from water, causing a release of hydrogen gas, and more expolsive potential.
Take this warning to heart, be careful and take precautions, as for me I just don't do aluminium in the shop.
 

Phil Dwyer

Well-Known Member
Need more constructive solution input please...

Hi Friends,

While I appreciate all the posts on making thermite (and how "cool" it is) I'm more interested in the ones on how NOT too. More posts about shop layout, grinding and cutting procedures, dust filtration and spark arrestor setups, materials and supplies management would be GREATLY appreciated. I'm not working much aluminum, but am endeavoring to work titanium. So far I've just ground it over a bucket of water, same with steel for that matter. Looking forward to further input on shop and equipment design and procedures on the matter. THANKS!

All the best, Phil
 

Delbert Ealy

Forum Owner-Moderator - Founder
Phil,
Grinding over a bucket of water is an excellent way to prevent a lot of the problems above, mostly because it eliminates the ignition problem, but marking belts for specific purposes or metals is also a good idea.
Thanks,
 

Wayne Coe

Forum Owner - Moderator
Phil, the purpose of this thread was for the safety issues.
I grind over water too, with some liquid soap, TSP (Trisodium Phosphate available in the paint department) and some surfactant (available where agricultural weed killers are sold or Jet-Dry in the dish washer soap area or Shaklee Basic I as used in SuperQuench) The soap and surfactant help break the surface tension so that the grindings go ahead and sink. The TSP helps neutralize the water and inhibits flash rust when you quench to dissipate the heat from grinding. Still keep in mind that not all of the grindings go into the quench bucket.
As Delbert says purpose specific belts are another good idea. Aluminum and, I assume, Titanium will glam up in a belt and are just sitting there waiting for some steel and hot sparks to set it off.
 

James Terrio

Well-Known Member
I haven't had occasion to grind aluminum yet, but I did start a small fire once... ground a bunch of wood, then some steel without cleaning up in between, it started real slow. If I had walked away before noticing the smoke it could have been really bad. I've also seen a pile of steel grindings get hot enough to glow red behind the grinder. Remember, you can start a campfire with steel wool and a battery, so... cleanliness is next to staying-aliveness. Not to forget, lots of us use linseed oil and other fun things, and oily rags can combust when you least expect it if exposed to air. As far as I know the safe way to store oily rags is in a sealed metal can with water. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

Thanks for all the safety tips gentlemen! I grind over water too, but hadn't thought of the soap trick. I'll start doing that too.:35:
 

Wayne Coe

Forum Owner - Moderator
James, I had been thinking about starting another thread about Linseed Oil but feared that folks would start thinking that I was just a fear-monger.
Last weekend on one of the morning talk shows (probably Today on Saturday) they had a segment about Linseed Oil starting fires. We all learned about oily rags and spontaneous combustion in Junior High School. What I learned this past weekend is: Linseed Oil is the only oil that actually heats up as it dries and it will combust at 120 degrees Fahrenheit. And it was 98 degrees outside in the shade today. The segment showed that after an hour, sitting on the deck the rag, thrown into a cardboard box started to smoke. After 3 hours there was actual flame.
There are many ways to get hurt or to destroy things given what we do, but, that should not deter us from doing what we do and love. We just need to learn the dangers and try to avoid them.
 

dknife

Well-Known Member
I knew of other volotile mixtures such as some of the above, but never heard of this one. BIG thanks Wayne!
 

Les George

Admin - Founding Member
Hi Friends,

While I appreciate all the posts on making thermite (and how "cool" it is) I'm more interested in the ones on how NOT too. More posts about shop layout, grinding and cutting procedures, dust filtration and spark arrestor setups, materials and supplies management would be GREATLY appreciated. I'm not working much aluminum, but am endeavoring to work titanium. So far I've just ground it over a bucket of water, same with steel for that matter. Looking forward to further input on shop and equipment design and procedures on the matter. THANKS!

All the best, Phil
Simply put, the information you are looking for is in the first post.
 

angusW

Member
That is correct Logrus. I work for a large railway. I don't work in the track department but I do work with them sometimes. They put a mold around the rail that is to be welded, pack it with thermite and then let 'er rip. Company policy is to stand 30' away. Thirty seconds later weld is done and all that is left to do is some grinding. I do work for the signal department and have used small amounts of thermite to 'weld' track wires together. Just takes a small spark to get it going and it only takes a few seconds and it's done.

I didn't know that grinding steel and aluminum on the same belt or wheel is a no-no, nor using the same dust collection system. Besides getting a second system I guess there's no way around it, is there?
 

BossDog

KnifeDogs.com & USAknifemaker.com Owner
Staff member
I feel a need to make some of this stuff but do something constructive with it at the same time. I was watching a video on using thermite on welding railroad track together. I don't have a rail road running through my yard so any ideas on what a constructive use for thermite might be -- other than the fun factor?
 

Stew

Well-Known Member
Tracey, one of the guys here has tried to use it for smelting steel (admittedly with a low yield) and I also think that there's a chap in the US (Jerry Bennett?) who does it with good success.
 

Les George

Admin - Founding Member
Hey Tracy,

I used to use it to burn out landmines and cars. I wonder if I still have any of those videos.... ;)
 

steve shiffer

Active Member
Wow........Great info. Never even dawned on me. I've used Thermite to destroy comms and vehicles before....Damn sure don't want that in my shop.
 

DLBrothers

Well-Known Member
I'm not a daredevil but not a fearful weenie either. That being said, I truly wonder how probable this is? Think about how many folks out there are grinding stuff- from lawnmower blades to shop tools to knives- and how often do you hear about this kind of thing happening? Is is kinda like a plane crash - when it happens it's bad but on a statistical basis - less than slight chance. I know the arguements....once is to many times....but hey, you take a chance driving to the store. However, I need someone sometimes to remind me to avoid "stupid mistakes."

...well i guess its a good thing I didn't spend very much on my "dust collection" system... I suppose I will re-arrange my stand to accomodate a water bucket for steel and switch to dust vaccum for handles - to be on the safer side.

Good thread overall - glad I read it!
 

Ernie Swanson

SASSY PINK LUUNCHBOX KNIFE MAKER
I really need to get the ingredients and make this stuff. Looks like it could be really fun in a controlled setting.
It would go along with my homemade napalm, and shooting everything into homemade ballistics gelatin.
 
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