What Thermite Is and How to Make It

I show how to make thermite using aluminum powder and iron oxide. Thermite is a pyrotechnic composition usually consisting of metal powder and a metal oxide. It creates extremely high temperatures in a very small area for a short period of time. With aluminum/iron oxide thermite the temperatures are as high as 4500 degrees F. Thermite is used for welding, metal cutting/boring, field-expedient metal repairs, science demonstrations, high-temperature ignition, disabling military equipment, and other applications.

The basic thermite recipe for iron oxide and aluminum is 3 parts iron oxide to 1 part aluminum powder. You can modify the ratios to find what works best for you, this may take some experimentation. To make a 4 ounce batch of thermite, weigh out 3 ounces of iron oxide. Then weigh out 1 ounce of aluminum powder. Dump them into a sealable container, and put the top on. Shake them until the color is consistent throughout. Having the correct balance of fuel and oxidizer is key to having a stable burn in a thermite reaction. The finer the ingredients and the better they are mixed the easier it will be to ignite, and the faster the reaction will be.

Disclaimer: Take all of the proper safety precautions before attempting to make thermite. Burning thermite can spatter molten iron a long way from the burning pile. Do not stand close to the mix when it is igniting or burning. And make sure there is nothing nearby that can catch fire. You cannot extinguish a thermite fire with water or a fire extinguisher because it has its own oxygen and you need to cool it to the point where it stops burning otherwise it will keep burning. You could hit it or move it to remove the thermite that hasn't started burning yet from the burning thermite but this would only reduce the burn not put it out. Lowering the surrounding temperature with the addition of an appropriate quantity of Liquid nitrogen can easily quench a reaction.

Step 1: Materials

- Aluminum Powder

- Iron Oxide Powder (https://youtu.be/DZT2WdSfEaI)

- Scale/Measuring Cups

- Flower Pot/Pop Can

- Sparkler/Magnesium Ribbon

Step 2: Ratios

- #1 [3:1] 3 Parts iron oxide, 1 part aluminum powder. (3 grams iron oxide + 1 gram aluminum powder = 4 grams or thermite)

- #2 [3:2] 3 Parts iron oxide, 2 part aluminum powder, and 2 parts plaster or Paris. (Mix the 3:2 with 2 parts plaster of Paris.)

- #3 [8:3] 8 Parts iron oxide, 3 parts aluminum powder.

Step 3: Watch the Video

(The video may not show up for mobile viewers)




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