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Newsgroups: alt.engr.explosives
From: (Roger Fleming)
Subject: Re: Carbon Tetrachloride
Date: Wed, 27 May 98 02:37:55 GMT (MikeR9182) wrote:
>I recently found an empty bottle of carbon tetrachloride in my garage.
>(Assumedly left there by the previous owner.)  I seem to recall hearing that
>"Carbon Tet" was used as an explosive over in Vietnam.  Is this true?

Nope. Carbon tetrachloride has essentially no explosive properties
whatever. If you were to mix it with a finely powdered reactive metal
the resulting mixture can be detonated, but it's the reactive metal
doing all the work (and much better explosives can be made using
eg powdered Al or Mg).

>How is Carbon Tetrachloride converted into a usable explosive...I've
>looked around but haven't been able to find comprehensive information on
>it. The bottle I found was bought at a local drugstore but it was
>obviously very old. Can it still be bought with the same simplicity?
>Besides explosives...what can it be used for?

It used to be used as a drycleaning spotter and an automotive
degreaser, but those uses were phased out when the fumes were found to
be responsible for a number of poisonings, some fatal. This was very
puzzling at the time as most tests seemed to indicate it wasn't
particularly poisonous.
Turns out the toxicity is pretty low when stone cold sober, but quite
small traces of alcohol in your blood stream greatly increases the
toxicity, as does chronic alcoholism or liver damage.

It was also once used in fire extinguishers, but this is a lousy idea
as on contact with red hot metal it produces very poisonous fumes.
It's also a suspect carcinogen and a minor ozone depleter.

It is still sometimes used in chemistry as a specialised solvent, but
not often.

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