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alternative ignition of thermite Answered

allright im looking for information on a number of different ways to ignite thermite. sure we've all heard of magnesium and yes it's usually third or fourth time is the charm also potassium permanganate which is pretty cool too and the ever popular sparkler of course lots of companies have taken out the magnesium chlorates and perchlorates from these sparklers and are now selling crappy ones without hazmat fees for them so they don't work worth a crap. i read an article from a guy stating he used simple visco fuse to light it even though ive heard it won't work but perhaps it depends on the mesh as in much finer. i use the dark german aluminum about 625 mesh and it will coat any and everything it touches. really though guys let's come up with some ways to lite thermite outside of tradition and share these methods of doing so along with how to obtain materialsin conventional and unorthodox ways because without frst time reliable ignition it's just no fun. also the first fire mix, much like the thermite ignition mix at united nuclear what exactly is it made of and how are some ways the monetarily cahllenged can obtain it and of course the not so challenged.


2 parts sulphur

1 part aluminum (300 mesh)

1 part eckhart dark aluminum (300 mesh)

I get 100% success rate. Fuse sensitive and slow bright burning (doesn't have the rapid expansion of gas that blows the thermite mix everywhere).

start thermite
lithium metal from energizer battery
potassium persulfate
from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ammonium_persulfate
then converting it to potassium persulfate shows how

sodium peroxide from burning sodium metal
making sodium metal http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rL1cKb3_ojE
then burning it to peroxide

theres a lot of videoes on it

potassium permangate

aluminum and copper chloride
aluminum and sulfur
aluminum and iodine
filaments from light bulbs
aluminium and nickel foil electric fuse

Ya. Lithium metal is your best friend in the Thermite World of Awesomeness.


Go to the shops, buy a couple of lithium AA batteries and open them up using some side cutters or pliers. There's a roll of nasty things in the core - lithium foil is separated from everything by plastic. To check if it's lithium or al-foil, add a tiny slice of the foil to some water. If it violently fizzes you have got lithium. Store the rest of the foil under mineral oil or canola oil, although mineral oil is better.

You can ignite the lithium metal using a lighter on top of your thermite mix and it WILL start. I recommend putting a bit of thermite on top because burning/melted lithium is a slippery thing. If you want to, you can even leave out the aluminium and just put the iron-oxide on some pieces of lithium. Light up the lithium with a torch and step back, lithium thermite is beautiful, hot, but dangerous.

I'm fairly certain the little striker lighter plug that is cast into the top of a road flare would be enough to ignite it. The thermite grenades have a "first fire" mixture cast on top of the thermite mixture that you are supposed to scrape some of loose before screwing the fuse/initiator spoon back onto them. I think it may be the same or similar mixture to the road flare igniter. If you pull the top plug out carefully all in one piece and shove it into your mixture then sprinkle a little smokeless powder on top of that to insure that it gets started I suspect it would work every time.

I just ignited it with an iodine and aluminum mixture with a drop of water this morning for my science class, it was pretty impressive. Starting a thermite reaction with a drop of water... they thought I was a wizard. ;)

I was using a 2300 degrees Fahrenheit torch to ignite it, but it would only make pretty sparks and burn for 1-2 seconds. I tried magnesium twice and it didn't work. Is it the ignition system or my thermite itself (I've never done this before) that is the problem?


Reply 10 years ago

No. That mix would explode if you looked at it wrong.

i know first hand how touchy that stuff is, but you would want a ratio of 85% Mg to 12% KCl2 to 3% red P. the amount of Mg that you use in this mixture reduces the chances of an accidental explosion happening by making the mixture less sensitive. however it is still friction sensitive, and you would only want to make a very small amount. if you really wanted to ignite thermite this way you would mix up the Mg and KCl2 and right before your ignite the mixture you would gently add the 3% P to it. i would use a secondary fuse to ignite the mixture, probably a homemade KCl2 fuse.

And what exactly is the purpose of the life-threatening phosphorus? I'd expect that much magnesium with nearly any oxidizer to do pretty well...

well what ive noticed about the explosives ive been messing with is that when i added the phosphorus it burned a lot quicker and a lot hotter, i look at it as more of a catalyst. ive tried many times with simply KCl2 and Mg, with no luck. it just didnt burn hot enough. what oxidizer may you be thinking of? ive been wondering if Mg and Fe2O3 would work. it sounds like it would make a low-grade flash bomb

Ah. I see. I wasn't reading carefully enough; you're using improvised ingredients (match heads for chlorate, Red phosphorus from striker surfaces, coarse 'shaved' Mg...) Please, please, PLEASE if you ever come across pure chemicals, do not try any similar mix! The mixture of red phosphorus and chlorate (called "armstrong's Mixture") is infamous for igniting (and/or detonating) at the slightest provocation, frequently removing fingers, hands, eyes, and etc...

yes that is true, once when i was trying to remove the armstrongs mixture from a small copper tube cannon that wasnt going off and the bell went at school i was puuting it back into its mini jack danials whisky botle i accidentaly knocked the bottle over and about 300mg of armstrong mix poured onto my hand then through my fingers onto my pants where it ignited ( i was wearing jeans). this stuff burns realy hot. it was a flash explosion (0.1 seconds)but it let my hand burning with blisters, which was rather anoying. also please note that this stuff was discoverd when an army soldier mixed 1lb of klO3 with red phosphorus and instanly blew himself up, they only found out abut it when police checked his notes and passed to the service at which he worked

well i know you probably dont want to use sparklers but there is an alternate way of igniting with sparklers. you strip and powder(fine) the sparklers and place in a pile on top of the thermite like you would with kmno4, then using a sparkler ignite and there should be 99% chance of indefinate ignition, (1% chance of doing nothing) otherwise you can always use a weather proof match as a fuse, it is like a normal match exept the match head extend 1/3 the way down the match , rather than just the head

 My brother and I tried it with the magnesium ribbon, and it didn't work, so we took a mini fountain fireworkk thing, like you buy near the fourth of july because you can't get real fireworks, and buried it in the thermite with the fuse pointing out. that lit it perfectly, as well as destroying any trace of the rest of the 'fountain' and the film canister next to it XD

one way i like to do it is by using a disposable camera circuit and shorting a charged capacitor into a concoction of random crap that say magnessium on it, baking soda, mercury fulminate, hydrogen peroxide, and a killer amount of O2 and Hydrogen. even without the capacitor, the mixture will ignite due to the mercury fulminate. it ignites wel when in a wrapped up paper towel...please give some comments and dont be stupid(in other words dont try it...its nasty stuff, one ounce has a two foot blast radius!!!)

- Why baking soda? It doesn't contribute to flammability, it reduces it (thermal decomposition to CO2 IIRC)
- Why hydrogen peroxide?
- Good luck actually getting your hands on any mercury fulminate. Even if you did, it's a sensitive explosive- it would detonate and blow your thermite everywhere but probably not generate enough heat (note difference from temperature) to ignite the thermite.
- How would you keep the hydrogen and oxygen gas near your thermite? If you were planning to contain the ingredients you listed above, you would be heading for a darwin award (again, assuming you could even get your hands on mercury fulminate).

I don't think this is a particularly constructive suggestion- the only sensible ingredient on that list is magnesium which has already been covered. If I ever knew a way to generate the required temperatures with H2O2 I've forgotten it, someone who remembers their chemistry might be able to help with this one but again it has probably been mentioned already.

If H2O2 is exposed to a catalysis (like magnesium dioxide) it exothermically decomposes to form hot water vapor and oxygen which the oxygen can then be used for combustion which is why H2O2has been used in some rockets as an oxidizer but H2O2 alone probably wouldn't produce enough energy to ignite thermite.

Anyone have some measurements for the permagnate & glycerine fuse? I want to try it but am unsure of the minimum effective amount and ignition time for various mesh ratings.

I havn't dealt with thermite, but I use the filaments from light bulbs with a drill or 9v battery to start things.

That method would not work for thermite. Not hot enough. Keep in mind that magnesium is the most popular method for amature pyros and it burns at about 4000 degrees f. The filament simply wouldn't get hot enough.

. Wikipedia lists several ways to ignite thermite in the Ignition section.

my guess is that the thermite ignition mix on united nuclear includes potassium chlorate, red phosphorus, and magnesium. it looks and acts kinda like the stuff me and my friend make. ground up KCl2: matchhead powder, ground up red P: the powder on the side of the match box, and Mg: shaved off of a campgear Mg and flint combination. its VERY hot when it burns, and explodes if its in a container. the first time i made it in a mortar and pestle it blew up and consumed my hand...which is still healing. kinda like flash powder. it was only about a gram, and it got extremely hot. i do not doubt its ability to ignite thermite. i also have heard that a visco fuse works, i just ordered some from pyrocreations.


10 years ago

Traditional ignition mixes involve barium peroxide and magnesium, or "fine" thermite mixed with some barium peroxide. But that's for "commercial thermite", which uses rather coarse particles (think sawdust from a circular saw; probably averaging 1/32 to 1/16 inch or so.) For finer thermite, I'd sorta expect any mix that burns Aluminum RELATIVELY SLOWLY to be hot enough...