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View Diary: My Life as a Teenage Chemist (34 comments)

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  •  Nice diary. I could have written all of it (7+ / 0-)


    Among lesser exploits, several times I made Nitrogen Triiodide ("touch explosive").  It's a wonder I didn't kill myself, cooking that stuff outside my suburban house at age 13.  

    I did get a few face-fills of iodine gas when things went wrong.  But also a lot of nice explosions when things worked as planned.

    I also made many kinds of bombs and fireworks, usually using saltpeter (potassium nitrate) as a base.  I used to be able to buy that for something like 15 cents a pound at a farmer's supply store, and made good use of it. Mix it with ANYTHING with carbon and hydrogen and it will BURN LIKE HELL.  

    For example, try a pound of saltpeter mixed with a pound of common sugar (or flour, or Cheerios, etc.).  If the wind is right, that will put out enough smoke to clear out an entire large schoolyard of 10+ acres filled with many games of baseball, etc., as I did once in 6th grade.

    I was just raising hell and never hurt anybody, and went to pains to make sure I didn't hurt anybody.  But shoot, nowadays I'd probably be in jail for terrorism.

    But I did enjoy amateur chemistry!  I'm just scratching the surface here.  I did a lot of serious study as well.

    •  It's hard to make big bangs w/ NI3 (1+ / 0-)
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      as soon as it dries out, it goes snap (or maybe SNAP), and throws a bunch of the (damp) rest around. It's too unstable for more than small amounts to go off at once.

      I had a lot of little purple stains on the bottoms of my shoes at various times.

      I never made more than an ounce (if that) of gunpowder or similar explosives, yet managed to do a lot more damage with it. (Mostly losing eyebrows and the like.)

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