Nitrogen Triiodide


Odds are that you've seen a demonstration of this stuff before, most likely in your high school chemistry class. It is a highly sensitive contact explosive made from two ingredients ammonia and iodine crystals. It is so sensitive when dry it can be set off by a feather or even a fly. The last time I made this was years ago for a science project. It was the middle of winter and I had been setting off batches of this stuff in my backyard all day. When night fell it started lightly snowing, the snow flakes fell to the ground and set off minute traces of the NI3. The resulting snaps were loud enough to wake up my mom who then woke me up and told me to do something about it. I wasnt really sure what to do about it so I filled up a bucket of water and threw it out over the pavement, setting off hundreds of little snaps which each gave off tiny poofs of purple smoke.

It has got to be one of the most surreal memories I have, being out in the moonlight while snowflakes gently floated down, causing the dead silence to be broken by little purple snaps going off everywhere.

Heres the wiki for it nitrogen triiodide
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Step 1: Materials

Iodine crystals.
Can be bought on e-bay,, or
That last one is a forensics website. Iodine crystals are used in a fingerprint lifting process called iodine fuming. As you can see on the label on the jar, the gas from the crystals has stained the paper to a dark purple color. Iodine gas is toxic, so do this experiment in a well ventilated area.

The purer the better. I use clear ammonia available almost anywhere. The store bought stuff is actually Ammonium hydroxide, meaning that it is ammonia dissolved in a ton of water. If for some reason you have access to highly concentrated ammonia the resulting nitrogen triiodide will be much more powerful, and therefore handled much more carefully.

A tupperware container
Coffee filters
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smittee6 months ago
It's worth mentioning that in Australia this stuff is legally classified as an explosive. So making, possessing, or transporting this stuff is illegal in Australia without very specific permits. And in our post-9/11 world that has serious consequences if you get caught mucking about with it.

Not trying to be a wowser, especially seeing as we made it when we were kids. But times have changed.

The next person I see use the phrase: "And in our post-9/11 world" I swear to god I am going to gouge out their eyes and cut out their tongue with a boxcutter.

What are you, like 12yo or just stupid? I was trying to make the point that while some of us got to make this stuff and smear it outside the teacher's lounge in the 80s with no consequences, just try pranking with it these days and an explosives conviction is probably one of the nicer outcomes you can expect. Next time you feel an urge to post comments threatening someone with physical violence, go take your boxcutter and quietly practice on yourself afk.
alexmac1312 months ago
keeping in mind in Canada this is a crime
guds7777 months ago

35% Ammonia.
guds7777 months ago
guds777 guds7777 months ago
iodine crystals...
Duffman11 year ago
Hey guys, wanting to try this out but from what i know the more concentrated the ammonia used druing the synthesis the less stable and stronger force made when the NI3 expoldes. I can get a hold of a solution of at least 13 mol/L of lab purity ammonia, what kind of stability and expolsive force would the resulting NI3 have ? I'm just wanting to assess the danger because i'll be doing this experiment in my garden but have never made this before.
so if you distill the water out of the ammonia hydroxide though osmosis (thats evaporating the water right?) would it purify the ammonia enough to be used for this?
osmosis would be a high salt concentration diffusing into another low salt concentration through a semipermeable membrane. like dialysis
Jollyrgr7 years ago
COMMENT TO AUTHOR: Please add a disclaimer to wear saftey glasses, and gloves while playing with this stuff.
Tetranitrate (author)  Jollyrgr7 years ago
COMMENT TO JOLLYRGR: No, if you don't know the SOP for handling chemicals you shouldn't be attempting this.
does liquid iodine work the same or must it be solid because i cant get iodine crystals/powder only iodine powder already dissolved in alchohol btw cloudy ammonia contains soap and soap as you know is slippery even when dry , and also as you know nitrogen triiodide is friction sensitive mix that with soap and its pretty much useless btw again can i evapourate the iodine solution to make powder and also can you get the soap out of the cloudy ammonia warning the government is slowly eradicating clear ammonia from grocery stores because they know that nitrogen triiodide can be made with it sorry this is so long but can you evapuorate cloudy ammonia into another bottle and will it pickup the ammonia in the vapure or will it be left behind with the soap as a salt?
If you don't know how to spell "evaporate" You probably shouldn't be messing with Nitrogen Triiodide.
because i mispelt a word i am incapable of handling NI3 why?

also, it would have been handy to know that it would have worked, since i spent 2 weeks trying to figure out how ammonia works, which i know now. i made some NI3 , and i cannot for the love of god understand what all this cafuffle is about.
Tv1996 jpoopdog2 years ago
No, not because the word was misspelled. It's because iodine sublimates, not evaporates.

jpoopdog Tv19962 years ago
i have a good understanding of chemistry now, i know how to make it, but i dont want to anymore.
What i meant was could i evapourate iodine tincture and use that, but now i know the amount of iodine in tincuture is neglegeble. ide be better off extracting iodic acid from seaweed.

The best source of iodine is to simply buy potassium iodide, mix with hydrochloric acid, then add hydrogen peroxide, which results in what i beleive is roughly 70% by weight of the potassium iodide, in iodine crystals.

Ammonia is a very mysterious thing, as is hydrogen sulfides reaction with alkalis, which is more confusing, as it is an acid, yet does not follow the same rules as a typical acid-alkali neutralization .

anyone able to point me in the right direction to find out more about why ammonia behaves the way it does?
yeah... nitrogen is a whore.
winst_173 years ago
Can we speed up the reaction of iodine crystals with amonium hydroxide by like, heating the mix?
would I be able to use iodine tablets like the ones used to purify water?
I don't think that;s the right type of iodine. not sure though.
The iodine in water purifying tablets is usualy potassium iodide or a similar compound (which wouldn't react with the ammonia). But fear not the iodine can be extracted to crystals by reacting with acid. This can be very dangerous if done incorectly (producing clouds of iodine and acid gas; toxic AND corrosive :| ). I would recomend following this vid if you still want to do it;
No, those water purification tabs don't work.  I tried it with the old ones even, before they switch to binary ingredents, and it still didn't work. But you can get iodine from walgreens that works.... hope this helps ya out, be safe.
Dr KAZ5 years ago
Unlike DANGEROUS explosives, this SAFE explosive (it is a high explosive), is not easy to make as the ingredients are not available at every corner shop. Try as you may, nothing but the pure stuff will work. It is best synthesized by using the method suggested by Tetranitrate although the limit of 1g iodine set by him is not the absolute safety limit. I have done this in 20g batches (in a fume cupboard). A batch may be rolled into a ball (using gloves) and set upon a high place (like a 7th storey library roof) to dry for a few hours (use a Buchner Funnel to separate your crystals). To set this baby off, just release it from whatever you are holding it with. The 2m diameter brown ring left behind sublimes in an hour (weather permitting). Please: Be safe, wear safety glasses, gloves and at least an apron when playing with chemicals. NEVER play alone.
"Nothing but the pure stuff will work." With pure Iodide crystals, will the store bought amonium hydroxide work?
Dr KAZ Dr KAZ4 years ago

Add this:

I regularly hold "explosion chemistry" workshops for students. I take the utmost care not to ever injure anyone. However, during one of my workshops, a student held 0.5g of nitrogen triiodide on a sheet of paper, outside, in open air and was blown off his feet when a gust of wind blew the sheet of paper holding the explosive against his chest. He wore a lab coat, safety glasses and had long pants and closed shoes to aid in his protection. A sense of humour also aided in both of us coming frrom the experiment without any harm.

EMPHASIS: If you know how stuff works, be even more carefull than when you do not have a clue.

AND: Rather play with this than try to synthesize other lethal compounds of which you know nothing of.

What about making this stuff by the pound in small containers designed to strain out the liquid?

Could be possible, I'd scale it up slowly though. Remember, the crystals must be completely dry in order to detonate. That might prove technically difficult in some sort of sealed container. You'd also want to speak to your bank manager as iodine is not exactly the cheapest material around. Nonetheless, it is a viable idea.

True, but I know people. And I wouldn't actually need very much of the stuff. Juse using a film canister as the container, then carefully lidding it when it's dry after otherwise draining liquids.
mazeka.145 years ago
is there any way to make this stuff less sensitive so you could say, throw it??
well nitroglycerin is a sensitive explosive, and all the original dynamite was stabilized nitroglycerin. i would guess yes. maybe when the NI3 is in it's liquid stage, add flower or sawdust to soak it up. that's exactly how nitroglycerin use to be stabilized.
cool, im gonna have to try that
Be careful if you do, because the military has looked into this and found it had no useful application just because of how unstable it is.  It's been recorded that slight gusts of wind can set this stuff off.
I have a simple idea for a safer way to set this stuff off. I may post an 'ible on it once I've had a chance to test it out. It could also be used quite easily in a grenade.

"It could also be used quite easily in a grenade." It is glaringly obvious that you have never synthesized even a mg of this compound. Learn to respect chemicals before you attempt making gram quantities of high explosives, or any other chemical compound not found at the corner store, for that matter.

Please, should you try anything with this, rather consult the "old man" - I'd gladly help out with instructions, even send you the stuff, if you agree to be careful.

I was talking about my way of setting it off, not about the actual substance being used in a grenade.
jam BD4 years ago
Wow ha ha ha
soooooooo dangerous =D
canno6 years ago
can i get this in Hong Kong cause i want to test out an idea with this stuff
Pbyrd canno6 years ago
What idea are you talking about?
canno Pbyrd6 years ago
the impact smoke bomb
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