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From: (Gerald L. Hurst)
Newsgroups: rec.pyrotechnics
Subject: Re: Cigarette loads
Date: 5 Dec 1995 05:56:55 GMT
Organization: Consulting Chemist
Lines: 40

In article <4a095o$hh9@grouper.Exis.Net>, (Jim Ryan) says:

>Fulminating Compounds

[Moronic instructions snipped]

I've prepared a lot of silver fulminate using much better techniques
than this turkey describes. I have also taken a ride in an EMS
vehicle carrying one of my lab techs to the hospital with a face
and chest full of funnel splinters and eyes burned by hot gases.

His mistake? He let one single drop of water fall on a few grams
of silver fulminate resting on a filter paper. 

The injured man had a lot more experience with explosives than
most of you have, and more experience with fulminates than any
of you will EVER have unless you are crazy or suicidal.

The only reason you can buy anything with fulminate in it is
because a bunch of very poor brazilians are willing to sit
around campfires hand loading coated sand into little twists
of paper. OSHA doesn't pay them any visits and they can't sue 
if they are injured.

It is true that I once developed an automated process for making
and loading the stuff on modern machinery, but nobody is using
that process and you sure as heck don't want to spend what
that machinery costs just to fool with a snake-dangerous material.

People who post nifty little "recipes" for making fulminates
are NOT your friends and they are NOT doing you a favor. When
you get hurt, they will be the first to laugh and say what we
so often hear in this forum: "He deserved it if he was that 


From: (Gerald L. Hurst)
Newsgroups: rec.pyrotechnics
Subject: Re: Question: Pop Pops
Date: 6 Jan 1996 20:56:18 GMT

In article <4clfgi$>, (The
Silent Observer) says:

>I'm not certain how it's done now, but in the days when Davis was 
>writing _The Chemistry of Powder and Explosives_ it was done with a 
>quill (yes, a feather shaft, cut at an angle for form a tiny dipper), 
>dipping from a small heap on a rubber membrane stretched on a ring stand 
>(to minimize damage if the gram or so in the heap were to explode).
>No attempt was made to coat the gravel; the fulminate powder was quite 
>fine, and simply worked into the interstices.  It was (and is) set off 
>when a crystal of fulminate is crushed or rubbed between two grains of 
>the gravel; the reaction them communicates to the remainder of the 
>fulminate rapidly enough to be perceived as a single "snap" with a 
>little flash of light in company.

How did Davis suggest one prepare silver fulminate powder fine
and flowable enough to disperse into the interstices? They must
have used very, very brave people or very long quills to dare
dipping into a whole gram of this sensitive material :)

It sounds to me like Davis was speculating. Even with the dirt
cheap oriental or South American labor of his day, it would
hardly be feasible to manufacture this inexpensive firework
by the suggested method.  At best, Davis must have been describing
an incredibly clumsy method for preparing samples in the lab.

I suspect that the families actually manufacturing the pops knew
methods which were not revealed to Davis.

There is a U.S. patent which describes a method for manufacturing
fulminate-coated sand in large quantities and making the final
pops on high-speed machinery. It is possible, but by no means 
certain, that this patent relates to rediscovered methods which 
had previously been trade secrets for decades.

In addition to the method of the patent, there are other, better 
techniques for preparing the treated sand.

I write this partly as a warning to all not to try dipping a quill
or the like into a gram of silver fulminate powder. The blast is
hot enough to burn the eyeballs. I have seen this happen.

Jerry (Ico) 

From: (Gerald L. Hurst)
Newsgroups: rec.pyrotechnics
Subject: Re: Silver Fulminate - Make it?  buy it?  How safe is it?
Date: 23 Jul 1996 08:21:54 GMT

In article <>, (DrD) says:

>I've read in here that Silver Fulminate is the stuff used in those
>little "bang-snaps" that kids get on the 4th that go off with a bit of
>pressure.  I've looked in numerous chemical supply catalogs, and
>haven't seen any.  Even pyro suppliers don't sell the stuff, so I'm
>guessing it has to be made.  So - how does one make it?
>And, more importantly, can it be made safely?  Obviously the stuff is
>unstable, cause it goes off with pressure, but just how nasty is it?
>Oh, and does it have any other pyro uses other than bang snaps?

You can't buy it.  It is not safe to make or use. The best method
of making the stuff is described in a 1970's US patent which
you can find by perusing the Patent Gazette in any major library.
Basically, the process creates the material as a stable chemical 
adduct which subsequently slowly changes into pure explosive silver 
fulminate in situ after the assembly of the final product, i.e., 
silver snaps or the like.

Personally, I wouldn't trust the author of that patent any farther than
I could throw him -- and he is a big guy (and ugly, too). 

The active silver fulminate can be initiated by the impact of water 
droplets and it is brisant enough to give you a body and face full 
of shrapnel. I have seen it happen and I have ridden to the hospital
with the victim.

The material has no practical uses other than in trick noisemakers 
of various sorts.

Jerry (Ico)

From: (Gerald L. Hurst)
Newsgroups: rec.pyrotechnics
Subject: Re: Silver Fulminate - Make it?  buy it?  How safe is it?
Date: 24 Jul 1996 17:32:57 GMT

In article <>,
Terence Tak-Shing Tam <> says:

>Actually, I've heard that the Ag(OCN) is dissolved in an ammonia solution
>(fulminates are soluable in ammonia) and soaked into the gravel.  In
>Mexico, the same process is used to treat beans, which are then coated
>with flash powder.  Anybody care to comment on that?

The material is not necessarily always dissolved, but ammonia IS used 
as a temporary desensitizer for the solid.  It functions by reversibly 
forming a chemical adduct which is visually indistinguishable from the 
untreated solid.  The adduct is not very sensitive, but slowly loses 
ammonia by evaporation to form the pure fulminate.

Mixtures of the desensitized moist fulminate can be tumbled with sand 
to form the commercial mix used in the paper-wrapped snaps. Even after 
preliminary drying, the snaps remain insensitive until the chemically
bound ammonia dissipates.

Of course, the fulminate is prepared in an acid medium so it is very
dangerous during and immediately after synthesis.  It is only after
washing with water that the cake can be treated with ammonia to 
desensitize it for later manufacturing steps.

Jerry (Ico) 

Subject: Re: Silver Fulminate - Make it?  buy it?  How safe is it?
From: (-Faber,S.R.)
Date: Aug 06 1996
Newsgroups: rec.pyrotechnics

In article <>,
DrD <> wrote:
>And, more importantly, can it be made safely?  Obviously the stuff is
>unstable, cause it goes off with pressure, but just how nasty is it?

In spite of all the naysayers, I can tell you my own experience with
it.  It can be made from nitric acid, ethyl alcohol and silver or
silver nitrate.  It is a very specacular reaction that produces a lot
of toxic fumes.  The dazzling white precipitate must be washed thoroughly
or it will be too sensitive.  The product can explode on contact
with strong acids.  It is quite stable and I have seen it stored for
many years without observable deterioration.  It can be mixed with
a gum arabic soln and coated on to BBs to form nice torpedo's.
These are fairly sensitive, but will not explode if dropped on wood, but
usually require a cement surface to make them go off.
It is extremely powerful-fast and makes mercury fulminate look like
homemade black powder in comparison.
If you do anything stupid like scrape the dried powder with a screwdriver
over a cement surface it will explode.  It can also be set off from
static electricity or when lit by a match even when wet.

Newsgroups: alt.engr.explosives
From: (Roger Fleming)
Subject: Re: Silver Fulminate & Copper Acetylide
Date: Tue, 12 May 98 22:36:52 GMT

>Is Silver Fulminate really a fulminate? (CNO)

Yes it is.

> i heard that it is produced by
>reaction of Ammonia with soluble Ag salts.

You are confusing silver fulminate with fulminating silver.
Fulminates are (notionally) salts of fulminic acid. Fulminating
compounds are reaction products of Hg, Ag, Au, or Pt salts with
ammonia, with an ill-defined composition. They are also primary
explosives, but are too sensitive for any practical use.
Fulminating gold was the first known high explosive, discovered in the
late sixteenth century by alchemists.

> Tollens Reagents tends to form Silver Fulminate on standing)

No, fulminating silver.

>That would make it Silver Nitride. [...]

It possibly contains azide, but last I heard, no one had obtained it
pure or analysed the structure, which was thought to be much more
complex than that. It almost certainly contains more than one

>Is it possible that Silver Nitride became to be called silver
>fulminate?  also why is this compound not used in caps? (i know
>it is used in toy snappers though)  Why isnt Copper Acetylide used in caps to
>replace toxic lead compounds?

I think use of toy caps is a rather unlikely mode for lead poisoning.
Even if you ate them `8^O you wouldn't be getting much lead.

|   Roger Fleming      |Who remembers when the net community       |
|Any opinions are not  |hunted down and unplugged spammers faster  |
|those of my employer  |than they could rear their heads? It was,  |
|(so far as I know)    |umm... last year, wasn't it?               |
|        Accustom yourself to give careful attention to what       |
|        others are saying, and try your best to enter into        |
|        the mind of the speaker.                                  |
|            - Marcus Aurelius, _Meditations_                      |

From: (Roger Fleming)
Newsgroups: alt.engr.explosives
Subject: Re: what is in the ground snaps?
Date: Mon, 05 Jul 1999 02:00:42 GMT wrote:
>>Interesting that this doesn't form instantly when you mix the alcoholic silver
>>nitrate up for the Tollen's test.
>>(Otherwise we'd have lots of dead undergrads)
>        Excellent point.
>>I'm aware that this eventually takes place over time, but when making mercury
>>fulminate this is a rapid procedure.[...]

I missed the start of this thread, but it sounds as if someone is confusing
fulminating silver with silver fulminate. The two are chemically quite
different, apart from containing Ag and N. Silver fulminate is an exact ionic
compound of the silver ion and fulminate (ONC)- ion, which is a very sensitive
primary explosive. Fulminating silver is the stuff that precipitates from
Tollen's reagent if allowed to stand long enough. It is an imprecise mixture
of azides, ammine complexes, nitrates etc and is even more sensitive than
silver fulminate. Fulminating compounds are known for several of the precious
metals, and were actually the first high explosives discovered, back in the
days of alchemy, but are so unstable (and expensive) they have never had any
practical use.

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