Authors: William Powell
Tags: #Reference, #Handbooks & Manuals
the inside of the mold to help release the thermite. Now, fill one half of the mold with the
cast thermite. Put the first fire/fuse package into the center of the filled mold. Fill the
other half of the mold with the thermite and assemble mold. The mold will have to have a
hole in it for the fuse to stick out. In about an hour, carefully separate the mold. You
should have a ball of thermite with the first fire mix in the center of it, and the fuse
sticking out of the ball. Dry the ball in the sun for about a week. DO NOT DRY IT IN AN
OVEN! The fuse ignites the first fire mix which in turn ignites the thermite. Since the
thermite is ignited from the center out, the heat builds up in the thermite and it burns
faster than normal. The result is a small explosion. The thermite ball burns in a split
second and throws molten iron and slag around. Use this carefully !
THERMITE WELL: To cut metal with thermite, take a refractory crucible and drill a 1/4
in. hole in the bottom. Epoxy a thin (20 gal) sheet of mild steel over the hole. Allow the
epoxy to dry. Fill the crucible with ferro-thermite and insert a first fire igniter in the
thermite. Fashion a standoff to the crucible. This should hold the crucible about 1 « in. up.
Place the well over your target and ignite the first fire. The well works this way. The
thermite burns, making slag and iron. Since the iron is heavier it goes to the bottom of the
well. The molten iron burns through the metal sheet. This produces a small delay which
gives the iron and slag more time to separate fully. The molten iron drips out through the
hole in the bottom of the crucible. The standoff allows the thermite to continue flowing
out of the crucible. The force of the dripping iron bores a hole in the target. A 2 lb
thermite well can penetrate up to 3/4 in. of steel. Experiment with different
configurations to get maximum penetration. For a crucible, try a flower pot coated with a
magnesium oxide layer. Sometimes the pot cracks however. Take the cast thermite
formula and add 50% ferro-thermite to it. This produces a fair amount of iron plus a very
THERMITE FUEL-AIR EXPLOSION: This is a very dangerous device. Ask yourself if you
really truly want to make it before you do any work on it. It is next to impossible to give
any dimensions of containers or weights of charges because of the availability of parts
changes from one person to the next. However here is a general description of this device
affectionately known as a HELLHOUND.
Make a thermite charge in a 1/8 in. wall pipe. This charge must be electrically ignited. At
the opposite end of the pipe away from the ignitor side put a small explosive charge of
flash powder weighing about 1 oz Drill a small hole in a pipe end cap and run the wires from
the ignitor through the hole. Seal the wires and hole up with fuel proof epoxy or cement.
Try ferrule cement available at sporting goods stores. Dope the threads of the end caps
with a good pipe dope and screw them onto the pipe. This gives you a thermite charge in an
iron pipe arranged so that when the thermite is electrically ignited, it will burn from one
end to the other finally setting of the flash powder charge. Place this device in a larger
pipe or very stout metal container which is sealed at one end. Use a couple of metal
"spiders" to keep the device away from the walls or ends of the larger container. Run the
wires out through the wall of the container and seal the wires with the fuel proof epoxy.
Fill the container with a volatile liquid fuel. Acetone or gasoline works great. Now seal up
the container with an appropriate end cap and it is done.
The device works like this: Attach a timer-power supply to the wires. When the thermite
is ignited it superheats the liquid fuel. Since the container is strong enough to hold the
pressure the fuel does not boil. When the thermite burns down to the explosive, it
explodes rupturing the container and releasing the superheated fuel. The fuel expands,
cooling off and making a fine mist and vapor that mixes with the surrounding air. The hot
thermite slag is also thrown into the air which ignites the fuel-air mix. The result is
obvious. Try about 1 « lbs of thermite to a gallon of fuel. For the pressure vessel, try an
old pressure cooker. Because the fuel may dissolve the epoxy don't keep this device around
for very long. But ask yourself, do you really want to make this?
EXOTIC THERMITES: Thermites can also be made from teflon-magnesium or metal
fluorides-magnesium or aluminum. If there is an excess of fluoride compound in the
mixture, fluorine gas can be released. Fluorine is extremely corrosive and reactive. The gas
can cause organic material to burst into flames by mere contact. For teflon-magnesium use
67% teflon and 33% magnesium. A strong first fire igniter should be used to ignite this
mixture. Both the teflon and the magnesium should be in powdered form. Do not inhale any
smoke from the burning mixture. If you use metal-fluorides instead of teflon, use
fluorides of low energy metals. Lead fluoride is a good example. Try using 90% lead
fluoride and 10% aluminum. Warning: Fluoride compounds can be very poisonous. They are
approximately equal to cyanide compounds. Another exotic mix is tricalcium
orthophosphate and aluminum. When this burns, it forms calcium phosphide which when
contacts water releases hydrogen phosphide which can ignite spontaneously in air.
Tricalcium orthophosphate has the formula Ca3(PO4)2 and is known as white-lockite. Use
about 75% orthophosphate and 25% aluminum. This ratio may have to be altered for
better burning as I have not experimented with it much and don't know if more aluminum
may reduce the calcium better. It does work but it is a hard to ignite mixture. A first fire
mix containing a few percent of magnesium works well.
Fighting thermite fires: Two ways to fight thermite fires are either smothering the
thermite with sand. This doesn't put out the thermite but it does help contain it and block
some of the heat. The other way is to flood the thermite with a great amount of water.
This helps to break the thermite apart and stop the reaction. If you use a small amount of
water, an explosion may result as the thermite may reduce the water and release hydrogen
gas. Thermite can start fires from the heat radiating from the reaction. Nearby
flammable substances can catch fire even though no sparks or flame touch them.