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Nitroglycerin Question

05/13/2017 11:01 AM

My question is about old dynamite. I understand that any/all old dynamite found in old mines should be avoided at all costs, it is unstable and could go off for no reason at all. But what about old dynamite left above ground in the open, exposed to the elements?(weather, sunlight, etc.) I would never attempt to approach any such thing. I just want to know if it eventually breaks down or goes through any chemical changes over time? Does it remain explosive under such conditions? Does it lose/gain potency? I am asking because there are thousands of old abandoned mines here in the southwestern USA and the topic of explosives in old mines has been covered, but I have seen nothing about what might have been left on the surface. Once again I would never approach any such thing, my question is for information only.

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#1

Re: Nitroglycerin Question

05/13/2017 11:26 AM

I believe "Wylie Coyote" is the best creature to ask that question of...(wink,wink).

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#2
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Re: Nitroglycerin Question

05/13/2017 12:06 PM

You know, I had a feeling there would be a few comments like that, but I am concerned about the safety of people who may be in the vicinity of old mines. Nobody to my knowledge has warned people about explosives left on the surface for extended periods. As for you, I guess we know what you do on saturday mornings. Wink wink

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#42
In reply to #2

Re: Nitroglycerin Question

05/17/2017 9:11 AM

Why do people want to go to the mines? We don't know who lives there by now. Who would want to go there? I don't.

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#43
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Re: Nitroglycerin Question

05/17/2017 9:22 AM

Only the inquisitive need apply, the innocents, and the uninformed. I would have suspected you to be at the front of that line based on the qualifications for checking any unexploded mining ordinance.

It should actually be a requirement that the person(s) scanning an area for this type of left-over material, and devices should have your exact qualifications, temperament, inclinations, and dedication to annoying all those in the general vicinity.

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#44
In reply to #43

Re: Nitroglycerin Question

05/17/2017 10:13 AM

A saying goes like "if it aint broke, dont fix it. Just build a better one" i think thats pretty sure a perfect fit on this thread.

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#45
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Re: Nitroglycerin Question

05/17/2017 10:25 AM

Right, or in this case, if you are not an ordinance field demolition expert, it is best to stay far afield from items you find lying on the ground, in caves, in mines, or anywhere else.

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#3

Re: Nitroglycerin Question

05/13/2017 12:13 PM

"Storage considerations

The maximum shelf life of nitroglycerin-based dynamite is recommended as one year from the date of manufacture under good storage conditions.[5]

Over time, regardless of the sorbent used, sticks of dynamite will "weep" or "sweat" nitroglycerin, which can then pool in the bottom of the box or storage area. For that reason, explosive manuals recommend the repeated turning over of boxes of dynamite in storage. Crystals will form on the outside of the sticks causing them to be even more shock, friction, and temperature sensitive. This creates a very dangerous situation. While the risk of an explosion without the use of a blasting cap is minimal for fresh dynamite, old dynamite is dangerous. Modern packaging helps eliminate this by placing the dynamite into sealed plastic bags, and using wax coated cardboard.

Dynamite is moderately sensitive to shock. Shock resistance tests are usually carried out with a drop-hammer: about 100 mg of explosive is placed on an anvil, upon which a weight of between 0.5 and 10 kg is dropped from different heights until detonation is achieved.[7] With a hammer of 2 kg, mercury fulminate detonates with a drop distance of 1 to 2 cm, nitroglycerin with 4 to 5 cm, dynamite with 15 to 30 cm, and ammoniacal explosives with 40 to 50 cm."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dynamite

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#4
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Re: Nitroglycerin Question

05/13/2017 12:20 PM

Good information but that does not answer the question. Will old dynamite left exposed to the elements, sunlight,rain, snow, wind, break down over extended peiods of time? Will it undergo some chemical transformation and eventually be rendered harmless?

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#5
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Re: Nitroglycerin Question

05/13/2017 12:47 PM

Any dynamite old or new should be considered dangerous....If located contact local bomb squad for disposal....

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#7
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Re: Nitroglycerin Question

05/13/2017 1:24 PM

Ok then, how do you identify or recognise old tnt that has been exposed for years, while keeping distance of such material? So my next question would be if rain would not dilute the sweat from the sticks over e.xtended periods, while exposed. Are they water soluable? Just saying avoid it is not enough if you dont know how to safely identify what your trying to avoid. Many of the mines are just holes going hundreds if feet down and you would not know they were there until you walked right up to it. Most have all the wood/metal removed. So I think it would be a good thing if you knew what was dangerous before you got any closer, or especially if you are about to purchase or lease the property in question without knowing of the danger or absence of danger. Sticks of tnt are obvious for what they are, but how will they look 50 to 100 years from now? Would it be just a spot on the ground?

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#11
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Re: Nitroglycerin Question

05/13/2017 3:22 PM

..." Some of the many dangers include deep, open vertical shafts, rotten or missing ladders, rotten or missing support timbers, loose rock, coller cave-ins, water, carbon monoxide/carbon dioxide, and explosives. Even if someone were to survive a mine accident, the remote location of most mines causes lengthy delays in any rescue attempts. "...

You accept the risks or you don't go exploring...the choice is yours....

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#13
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Re: Nitroglycerin Question

05/13/2017 9:31 PM

Very good photos, however the boxes shown are inside of the mine and not outside. Also I do not explore or otherwise enter old mines. I do collect mineral specimens from tailings or from the surrounding area. I also note the location so that I can report same to the Abandoned Mines Buerue(?) so the mine can be added to their list for closure.

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#19
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Re: Nitroglycerin Question

05/14/2017 3:05 AM

Well I think it would be rather difficult to locate any dynamite left out in the open....probably nothing left to find...

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#28
In reply to #13

Re: Nitroglycerin Question

05/15/2017 10:13 AM

It's bureau. Following this thread with interest. Thank you!

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#30
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Re: Nitroglycerin Question

05/15/2017 10:30 AM

Theys lots o' them thar bureaus round these parts

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#46
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Re: Nitroglycerin Question

05/23/2017 12:26 PM

And a young bureau is called a bureato

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#22
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Re: Nitroglycerin Question

05/14/2017 5:55 AM

A minor point - TNT isn't the same as nitroglycerin. It's less temperamental and doesn't need mixing with an absorbent to make it usable. I believe it can be just melted with a steam lance, poured into a shell case, and left to cool.

No idea whether TNT was used in area you're concerned with, so whether its response to weather and aging also matters.

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#23
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Re: Nitroglycerin Question

05/14/2017 1:43 PM

Yes, TNT and dynamite are very different materials. TNT is only moderately soluble in water. However it decomposes rapidly in the presence of sunlight (photolysis). Plenty of that in the U.S. Southwest.

The chances of the OP coming across old dynamite are much greater as that was the explosive-of-choice for mining purposes. TNT tends more to be more popular with the military because, as you said, it can be moulded easily or melted and poured into shell casings.

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#27
In reply to #23

Re: Nitroglycerin Question

05/15/2017 6:19 AM

Also I believe nitro is much cheaper than TNT as glycerin is a byproduct of soap manufacture.

Eg glyceryj stearate (fat) + NaOH = sodium stearate (soap) + glycerin

whereas toluene has to be made for the job.

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#6
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Re: Nitroglycerin Question

05/13/2017 12:53 PM

Eventually yes. Otherwise random explosions at old mine sites would be a common problem that would have been addressed some time ago. If people can find something that's been abandoned and mess with it the odds are some wild animal would have too.

Personally I think you need a hobby that does not include thinking up and worrying about 'what if' scenarios for strangers well being. There are far better and more socially productive things to do with one's life than that.

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#9
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Re: Nitroglycerin Question

05/13/2017 1:34 PM

That may be so in your situation. However, I have collected mineral specimens from many old mines over the course of 50 years or so and sometimes with groups of people. The comment that some critter would have found it long ago makes sense to me. I still think after 50 to 100 years the weather would turn it into a spot on the ground anyway. Thanks for all the comments

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#8
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Re: Nitroglycerin Question

05/13/2017 1:30 PM

According to Wiki, being exposed to the elements renders dynamite less harmless. Once the nitroglycerin starts leaking out, very bad things could happen.

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#37
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Re: Nitroglycerin Question

05/15/2017 3:07 PM

I would answer pretty much as you did in your question. If you would not let it date your daughter, it is still dangerous. AFAICT, nitroglycerin is pretty dern stable to sunlight, heat, etc. as far as vaporizing, becoming some other (more inert) substance, etc. Rather, it probably could start having free radicals in it that might just set it off without any provocation whatsoever. The only thing more dangerous is a child playing with a blasting cap - so, if you let your children play unattended in such an area (bad idea), you should spend some time (1) educating them about hands off policy, and (2) scour the area really, really thoroughly for unspent blasting materials, and have the authorities remove them for everyone's safety.

Direct sunlight might just make the dynamite weep nitroglycerin at a faster than normal rate, so any product left outside (even if rained on) should be regarded as extremely hazardous to life and limb.

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#24
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Re: Nitroglycerin Question

05/14/2017 6:52 PM

"...explosive manuals recommend the repeated turning over of boxes of dynamite in storage."

Oh I want THAT job!

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#10

Re: Nitroglycerin Question

05/13/2017 2:20 PM

I have a fun idea that would answer your question. Using a large caliber rifle, shoot at said old dynamite from about 500 yards. I think I would enjoy that more then a cup of coffee in the morning to wake me up. Nothing beets a good kaboom as long as everybody is far enough away.

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#17
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Re: Nitroglycerin Question

05/14/2017 12:06 AM

When I first read this thread, that was my first thought, a little target practice never hurts as long as you have some distance from the target. A whole lot more exciting than plunking cans!!!

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#18
In reply to #10

Re: Nitroglycerin Question

05/14/2017 1:34 AM

In Australia only Gelignite and shooting it with a 7.62 does nothing, likewise a 300 Holland Holland...not stupid enough to see if the shear concussive force of a 12 guage would work.

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#36
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Re: Nitroglycerin Question

05/15/2017 11:54 AM

I think if you tried with a 12 gauge that you might not live to tell about it because you'd have to stand too close.

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#12

Re: Nitroglycerin Question

05/13/2017 6:04 PM

Nitroglycerin is fairly water soluble, so if it is on the surface and not sealed, so exposed to occasional rain, it would likely rinse away after a period.

If the dynamite is exposed to water, but not in a way that would rinse it away, NG is degraded by hydrolysis. In acidic and neutral conditions, hydrolysis half life should be around a year. For alkaline conditions degradation by hydrolysis is more rapid. In any case, if it got wet more than a decade ago, it probably doesn't pose much of a risk.

If it is sealed, and exposed to the sun, when temperatures reach around 120° F in the sealed container, NG begins to break down.

Degradation via direct sun exposure can be very rapid; half life in days.

I suspect any very old dynamite left outside exposed to the environment had its container lose the battle with the elements long ago. Exposed to sun and water, chances are, there is no more NG.....

.

...but even with a tiny chance of old unstable NG present, it would be best to treat any find with caution/respect.

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#14
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Re: Nitroglycerin Question

05/13/2017 9:36 PM

That is exactly what I wanted to know. Thank you

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#15
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Re: Nitroglycerin Question

05/13/2017 10:20 PM

Given the slow solubility in water plus natural tendencies to self neutralize when exposed to various air and soil based chemicals I would think that just being in a naturally damp environment would be enough to render all but the most well protected explosives inert within a few years.

As with SE's comments, I would be far more concerned about falling down some mine shaft or causing a cave in on myself or getting gassed in a tunnel than finding any form of still viable explosives laying around.

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#20
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Re: Nitroglycerin Question

05/14/2017 4:10 AM

Once again, I do not enter old mines nor do I "attempt to locate" any explosive materials left behind. I am merely trying to learn from the standpoint of safety should I ever come across such things while collecting mineral specimens. Some of the comments seem to ignore the point and instead try to instill fear, fire and brimstone. Yes, I understand there is some risk involved, I have been collecting specimens for many years without incident. Just trying to gain some insight that I could not find in wikipedia or on the dozen or so websights I explored. I do not enter mines because of the fact that rattlesnakes frequently use them for shelter and being in a dark place and hearing the rattle is more than I could endure.

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#29
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Re: Nitroglycerin Question

05/15/2017 10:25 AM

I have also found out you can get a lot of criticism for just asking a question!!!

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#16

Re: Nitroglycerin Question

05/13/2017 10:57 PM

Just to remind anyone who might be considering messing around with energetic material of the consequences of not taking the risks seriously....

Warning: Graphic. Not for the squeamish.

https://www.liveleak.com/view?i=685_1333216262

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#21

Re: Nitroglycerin Question

05/14/2017 5:26 AM

It was 4th of July, 60 years ago, and a friend and I, being young and curious, wanted to blow off a stick of dynamite. We tried talking old Willy into getting us just one stick, with fuse and blasting cap from his father's stash. Father was a pro logger and used dynamite to blast stumps out of the ground. Reluctantly he did. BUT, we saw where it came from, returned later and stole a whole case...144 sticks. This was just an experiment of course. In the middle of a vacant lot we put the case, still sealed, on the ground with the single stick with cap and fuse installed and a cigarette taped to the end of the fuse to give extra time. Everything in order, we lit it and ran like hell. Down the hill, about 300 yards away, we waited. And waited, and waited... Then just as we thought it wasn't going to work... KA-MEGA-BOOOOM!!!!!! We had no idea what an influence 145 sticks would make. Back up the hill there was hole 6 foot deep and about 12 foot diameter. We ran again back home to find the phone ringing. It blew out windows from houses all around and was heard county wide. We never got blamed but learned several lessons.

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#32
In reply to #21

Re: Nitroglycerin Question

05/15/2017 10:50 AM

Just as well Willy was old or he might have realised he was missing an 144-stick case and put 2 and 2 together! And how old was his father?

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#33
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Re: Nitroglycerin Question

05/15/2017 10:59 AM

Old Willy probably just reckoned it was one of his other neighbours' stashes of dynamite that went off. That or he never mastered addition.

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#34
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Re: Nitroglycerin Question

05/15/2017 11:40 AM

Or subtraction!

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#35
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Re: Nitroglycerin Question

05/15/2017 11:50 AM

Yes, well, negative numbers are an additional leap.

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#25

Re: Nitroglycerin Question

05/14/2017 10:30 PM

A cold chill went up my spine as I read this!!! My wife's grandmother lost her first husband due to a fire and explosion. Story is the gentleman who's garage/barn was on fire knew of the dynamite in there. But he felt than without caps there was no danger of an explosion (oops). The story I heard was that a red hot rim from the model A hit Gus Pittack in the mid-section and he died in his wife's arms.

The outcome was that a keg of nails (soon to be projectiles) fell on the dynamite and the compression caused the explosion - no caps needed.....

http://fremonttribune.com/news/local/scribner-marks-th-anniversary-of-fatal-explosion-with-memorial/article_06fe17b0-acc6-50fe-8e8e-7c5168fc89d3.html

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#26

Re: Nitroglycerin Question

05/15/2017 5:37 AM
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#31

Re: Nitroglycerin Question

05/15/2017 10:41 AM

Theodore John Kaczynski (/kəˈzɪnski/; born May 22, 1942), also known as the "Unabomber", is an American anarchist, serial killer, and domestic terrorist. A mathematical prodigy, he abandoned a promising academic career in 1969, then between 1978 and 1995 killed three people, and injured 23 others, in a nationwide bombing campaign targeting people involved with modern technology. In conjunction with this campaign he issued a wide-ranging social critique opposing industrialization and modern technology, and advancing a nature-centered form of anarchism

An FBI reproduction of a bomb created by Kaczynski on display at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

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#38
In reply to #31

Re: Nitroglycerin Question

05/15/2017 3:59 PM

On display? Why???

"Hey kids! Just in case there are any budding Unabombers among you, here's How It's Done."

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#40
In reply to #38

Re: Nitroglycerin Question

05/16/2017 8:37 AM

It is what to not look for when not opening suspicious packages, silly man!

Make it so #1.

Kudos to the FBI for (1) catching A-#1 holes like Ted Kaczynski,

a shining example of enviro-anarchism, and (2)

keeping the truth at the forefront in all matters of importance. It appears a great deal more is about to surface regarding matters of national security, Wikileaks, and persons of great interest.

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#39

Re: Nitroglycerin Question

05/15/2017 11:13 PM

I'm sure big brother Trump (NSA) is following this thread, so with that, I will >unsubscribe<

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#41
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Re: Nitroglycerin Question

05/16/2017 8:39 AM

I don't think (1) we matter that much, and (2) no nefarious operators here (that I am aware of), or someone would have been tipped off.

Can you say "paranoia" is the beginning of wisdom? LOL

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