Friday, June 13, 2008

Thermite pictures

Here are some pictures of my recent thermite demo. This one was 1.5 kg iron (III) oxide and 500 g aluminum powder. It was ignited by adding some gummi bears to a puddle of molten potassium chlorate. The pile of potassium chlorate on top of the thermite was melted using a propane torch.

Notice the doomed aluminum cans and the gummi bear below the flower pot.


The stream of molten iron.

The aftermath.



Ψ*Ψ said...

AWESOME!!!!!!! I love the thermite reaction. The only thing that could possibly be better than photos would be a video.
(pleeeeeease post one?)

markmier said...

YESSSS!!! Thermite! A pyro's dream reaction. I really love this reaction, I think I need to gather up some materials and do it myself sometime, maybe for 7/4? Cole-Parmer probably sells the reagents to regular humans (with chem e degrees but no currently active academic credentials), no? I've got a few other things from them I could use. Otherwise I suppose I could gather some rust and shred up some soda cans. This is truly a party trick kinda thing (before the drinking gets too intense, of course.)

Chemgeek said...

All ingredients necessary can be found on-line. This should only be attempted by trained professionals familiar with the behavior of the chemicals involved.

At the scale of the reaction I described, molten pieces of iron traveled almost 12 feet through the air. In other words, keep everybody away.

This must be done where the molten iron will not do any damage. Doing this on your grass will kill the grass. Do this in a metal fire pit found in many backyards will probably melt a hole in the fire pit. IOW, choose your location wisely.

Jordan said...

First and only time I've seen the thermite reaction in the flesh was in Grade 11 chemistry. I think the teacher worked on the 1.5 g scale! Amazing that you did it on the kg scale.

Daelin82 said...


the indefatigable mjenks said...

That mountain dew can never saw it coming...

Did the kids bring up the episode of Mythbusters where they found the Hindenberg was essentially coated in a layer of Thermite?

Chemgeek said...

During Science Camp, Mythbusters was brought up about every 14 minutes. So, yes, it was mentioned.

Eric said...

Very impressive!

I need to find a good location for a backyard bronze foundry, maybe I can use thermite to clear the area of all vegetation (kidding, that would be highly irresponsible).

I've read that people can use vacuum cleaners and leaf blowers to stoke fires under ceramic crucibles for melting bronze to get a pour for sand casting, but I'm a bit afraid to try (even if I were to buy all the applicable protective gear).

With temperatures and materials like that, it has to be right the first time. Any residual moisture in a mold and *boom*!