Introduction: Thermite

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Quick explanation of thermite:

A mixture of iron oxide Fe2O3 (rust) and aluminum powder. When it is ignited the aluminum powder reacts with the O3 part of the rust in a highly exothermic reaction, the resulting product is molten iron.

Thermite is commonly used in welding, because the molten iron has the ability to seep into cracks in metal. It cal also be used to melt through things as shown in an episode of Brainiac and the movie The Sixth Day.

I have made thermite a few times, but never in large enough batches to burn through anything significant. Aluminum powder is hard to come by and I never had a good enough reason to use what little powder I had.

Step 1: Materials

All materials can be found here http://unitednuclear.com/chem.htm or on E-bay. You can either buy and mix the chemicals yourself or buy premade thermite from unitednuclear.

1. Iron oxide
2. Aluminum powder
3. Magnesium ribbon or thermite ignition mixture

For a more exotic mix you may also want to buy:

4. Barium Nitrate
5. Sulfur
6. Dextrin

Step 2: Mix

Mix 76.3% iron oxide with 27.3% aluminum powder to make thermite.


To make the military version Thermate create a mixture of 68.7% thermite, 29.0% barium nitrate, sulfur 2.0%, and dextrin 0.3%.

Step 3: Ignition

The safest container to hold the thermite while igniting it is a terracotta or ceramic plant pot with a hole in the bottom. Place a tissue or coffee filter on the bottom of the pot to prevent the thermite from spilling through. Put the thermite in the pot, and then when it ignites it will burn through the paper spilling molten iron onto whatever is underneath.


Thermite requires extremely high temperatures to ignite (about 4000 F). Ignition can be achieved in multiple ways.

Magnesium ribbon, although unreliable, is still the most popular way to ignite thermite.

Sparklers

Thermite ignition formula sold on unitednuclear

A mixture of Potassium permanganate and glycerine will undergo a reaction that can provide enough heat to ignite thermite.

Allow yourself at least 10 seconds to get the hell away from this stuff, especially if you made Thermate.

Step 4: Safety

Thermite burns very hot. It is virtually impossible to extinguish. Do not pour water on it because it will not extinguish it and it give you steam burns in the process. If you are having this burn through something put a bucket of sand underneath it.

Only do this outdoors in a completely nonflammable environment.

Comments

author
MichaelC726 (author)2017-06-27

Reading about all these different mixtures, can any of them be made in a weak enough mixture to 'paint' on wood in a simple design that would burn or etch the wood just where it is painted on.

author
miyagisan (author)2017-03-03

al foil and rust will produce the same product

author
Trerstand69 (author)2017-02-10

Is the thermate by weight because the ratio does not equal 100 percent either.

author
Supertux (author)2016-12-05

Whats the ratio with copper oxide?

author
sfjohnson73 (author)2016-07-08

I use this to burn stumps, and it entertains the children. x >

author
DouglasC67 (author)sfjohnson732016-09-27

Can you give any info on your stump burning experience? Just received the ingredients (pro grade rusty and aluminum powders), and have 26 acres of nasty stumps... Any info is appreciated!

author
sfjohnson73 (author)DouglasC672016-09-28

It works well with getting the stumps burning. The more product that you use,the faster the stump is consumed. Dry pine stumps burn the best. It will not make the stump disappear instantly but it is faster than charcoal and more fun than digging! What ever you do, PLEASE do it safely. Thermite is hot!

author
Koopskid8 (author)2016-07-19

is it radioactive?

author
fatcat360 (author)Koopskid82016-07-30

no it isnt

author
chip123 (author)2009-02-08

sorry to be a smart arse, but the percentages of the mix add up to more than 100%. if you mix 76.3% iron oxide with 27.3% aluminum powder, then you get 103.6% thermite. this doesnt make sense to me, so could you explain it a little please. thanks

author
M4industries (author)chip1232009-04-19

I saw that too!

author
jmeister15 (author)M4industries2009-06-04

Were you directed here by one of mythbusters episodes with thermite? I was!

author
Mr. Cowboy (author)jmeister152009-06-04

I was too

author
MaxS97 (author)Mr. Cowboy2016-05-17

Cowboy does this really work

author
MaxS97 (author)Mr. Cowboy2016-05-17

Hi

author
chip123 (author)jmeister152009-06-04

believe it or not, no. Ive never watched mythbusters

author
jmeister15 (author)chip1232009-06-05

I love the ice thing! Ive seen almost every episode! Wensdays at 9!

author
M4industries (author)jmeister152009-09-28

In Eastern stations it used to be, but now its at 8 for some reason. I hear the next myth is on Golf Balls and if the dimples affect flight. it was in a Pop Mech article about the Mythbusters.

author
santy22 (author)chip1232009-03-17

he just wants to get fancy-ish woth that. mix 75 and 25. also, you can do aluminium powder grinding or blending aluminium paper!

author
jmeister15 (author)santy222009-06-05

how would you recomend getting the alunimum powder and the iron stuff?

author
Sdanderson222 (author)jmeister152016-05-01

Amazon

author
Bodragon (author)chip1232015-11-12

It doesn't make sense because it's 76.3 : 23.7 (NOT 27.3)

author
MisterShotgun (author)chip1232009-08-20

He switched the 7 and the 3 in the aluminum powder percentage. It should read "76.3% Iron Oxide" and "23.7% Aluminum Powder."

author
chip123 (author)MisterShotgun2009-09-09

at last...it makes sense. thanks

author
speedlimit55 (author)2016-04-05

The debate over Fe2O3 to AL ratio is 80:27... both materials are available though Amazon or Ebay. Other sites offer the materials by the tonne...The ration is by weight. I am mixing 800 grams to 270 grams.

I'm using a 3 inch "fuse" of magnesium in my first attempt... had to get a torch (as in a burning torch) to ignite the fuse. Once I go with that I will also attempt using nichrome wire off a lantern battery, a fireworks igniter off a lantern battery and a final test of potassium permanganate with glycerin. Once I verify the ignition system that works best (safest) I'll add the thermate materials to the mix and update.
For a "hotter" burn I've read that using CuO2 or other oxidizers is better than Fe2O3. Also using different more reactive metals in theory makes it hotter but getting too reactive make storage unstable both from a reactive view and shelf life.

author
gokahnd (author)2016-03-11

https://talasliimalatci.wordpress.com/2016/02/22/malzeme-agirlik-hesaplama-robotu/

author
ẨnS8 (author)2015-12-25

does anyone here because breaking bad ?

author
Mateco (author)ẨnS82016-01-30

oh yes.

author
Psykram (author)2014-11-04

Need Aluminum Powder but the Mad-Science shoppe is closed?

etch a sketch.jpg
author
TonyM87 (author)Psykram2016-01-17

Sorry, but that Breaking Bad episode where Heisenberg makes thermite from the contents of an Etch-A-Sketch and then uses it to burn through a lock was conclusively debunked by Thunderf00t on Youtube. You don't don't need an Etch-a-Sketch anyway. Just get the stuff from Ebay.

author
ZacharyB4 (author)Psykram2015-03-29

and you are the kind of person that would die if they ever tried to make meth

author
ChristopherL68 (author)2015-12-26

Um. Yes, it is aluminum powder.

http://mentalfloss.com/article/26733/how-does-etch...

Are you thinking of Wooly Willy, which uses iron filings and a magnetic wand?

author
knoxarama (author)2009-12-02

now, how to you mix 76.3% with 27.3% of anything? Is 100% not a limitation here? please explain how to get 103.3%

author
Bodragon (author)knoxarama2015-11-12

76.3% to 23.7% (NOT 27.3%)

author
Archive555 (author)knoxarama2010-01-17

Anywhere between 3-1 to 3-2 ratio will work, just play around with it a little.

author
mmm_chewy (author)Archive5552010-01-18

3:1 iron oxide to aluminum by weight

author
Hot Schnell (author)2015-04-25

What if you mixed the Thermate with magnesium powder? Is that stable? The U.S. Army manual 'Improvised Munitions' instructs to mix magnesium powder with potassium permanganate for storage in a tightly sealed container. Maybe magnesium and potassium permanganate powders can be mixed with Thermate. A match or glycerin would ignite the potassium permanganate, and even the magnesium. Then the whole batch is ignited.

author
Hot Schnell (author)2015-04-23

What if I rolled cotton string in a mixture of black powder and magnesium powder, and maybe potassium permanganate too? I read that the military stores magnesium mixed with potassium permanganate. I don't know if either would be stable mixed with black powder. I'm trying to figure this out myself. I think a mixture of at least two of the three would work. I would then run the string through a small vial of clear nail polish to make it waterproof. What do you think?

author
MichaelT17 (author)2015-03-14

Using black iron oxide Fe2O3 and and Al (3Fe3O4 + 8Al --> 9Fe + 4Al2O3 + heat) it's 76.3% iron oxide, and 23.7% al by weight

author
MichaelT17 (author)MichaelT172015-03-14

Using RED iron oxide (Fe2O3+2Al -->2Fe+Al2O3+heat) it's 74.7% iron oxide, and 25.3% al by weight

author
brian.tagtow (author)2014-08-04

103.6%?

author
MichaelT17 (author)brian.tagtow2015-03-14

Using black iron oxide Fe2O3 and and Al (3Fe3O4 + 8Al --> 9Fe + 4Al2O3 + heat) it's 76.3% iron oxide, and 23.7% al by weight

author
boudreau-inventor2 (author)2011-03-27

I don't really know much about thermite. What is the difference between the military version and the regular version?

author

Military version ignites easier, and spreads easier with more outgassing.

author
JoeA9 (author)boudreau-inventor22015-02-03

How hot it burns. The military version burns hotter and faster.

author
HeroldB made it! (author)2015-03-05

It comes from a chemical supplier like US Halogens to get the best results. Some aluminum and iron oxide you find online give you crumby yields. Try a reputable company like www.americanelements.com or www.ushalogens.com check the products or merchandise pages. Here's a bar with slag we made from their aluminum powder / copper oxide mix

CopperBarSmelted (5).jpg
author
chaydgb (author)2015-01-29

You can also use sparks from ferrocerium 'flints' to ignite thermite. It's a bit tricky trying to aim the resulting sparks into the thermite mixture but a good substitute if you don't have any magnesium or sparklers.

author
nrotxn (author)2014-04-05

If you like this you should check out Thermite Arts on kickstarter and on etsy. They have thermite kits on etsy.

author
MandalorianMaker (author)2014-03-12

instead of iron oxide powder u can use copper powder for a explosive mixture

author
The_Voice_Within (author)2014-03-08

is it possible to convert this to units by weight? thanks guys happy burning :)

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