Thermite

General Information | Low Order / Incendiary

AKA: "Thermit"
Appears: Silvery or grey powder.
Formula: Fe2O3 + Al
Stability: Very stable.
Sensitivity: Extremely high temperatures (1250 degrees, C).
Solubility: N/A
Velocity: N/A

    Thermite works by a process called the "Goldschmidt process", using iron oxide to oxidize aluminum and produce very high temperatures (in the leauge of 3000 degrees, C). Thermite has been popularized by the Anarchy Cookbook crowd as a catch-all miracle substance that can reportedly vaporize metal, cut holes in safes, &c. It should be known that stories of thermite's metal cutting abilities have been greatly exaggerated. This doesn't make thermite any less interesting, though, as a high temperature incendiary or welding aid.

N/A

Preparation

 
Easier (Revised)
     Iron Oxide, Rust ( Fe2O3 ) 77
     Aluminum, fine powder ( Al ) 23
Classic
     Iron Oxide, Scale ( Fe2O4 ) 75
     Aluminum, fine powder ( Al ) 25
 
    Both ingredients should be finely powdered, and can be ball milled, diapered, or mixed however you so please. Thermite is very stable, so accidental igniton is just about impossible.
    Dead simple as it may be to make, lighting the thermite is a different matter entirely. A starter mixture creating 1300 degrees or so needs to be used, generally a magnesium and oxidizer or permanganate and glycerin mixture is used.
    There is much speculation as to which variety of iron oxide should be used. Half of the pyrotechnic community swears by so-called Iron Scale (Fe2O4) and the other half insists that simple iron rust (Fe2O3) is correct. In truth, either type of iron oxide can be made to work, though it is reported that a minor proportion change is needed (noted above) depending on which you use.

Effects

    Thermite burns with a very intense white or yellowish flame, usually spewing sparks, and creating insane temperatures. The reaction produces pure iron as the byproduct, which may or may not be of interest or use. Thermite can usually burn or cut through plates of metal of reasonable thickness, but performs poorly on blocks or solid chunks of metal, steel in particular. Thermite is reportedly quite useful for welding metals, if uncontrolable chemical reactions are your tool of choice.

Precautions

    Thermite burns hot and bright. Avoid contact or proximity to burning material, and wear eye protection.
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