Could a rifle shot detonate 19th century dynomite?

The whole point of Alfred Nobel’s product was to make it stable. Still, there’s things likeTannerite. So, which is it? Could Butch Cassidy save himself by shooting a case of TNT?

It may be stable, but not indefinitely. Dynamite has a finite shelf life. The nitroglycerin in it tends to pool and leak out, and when that happens all bets are off. It becomes shock sensitive and very dangerous.

Dynamite (wiki page): Storage considerations

(ETA: Did you mean to ask if a rifle shot could have set of 19th century dynamite when it was still fresh?)

Anecdote: My father had some old dynamite, and, for a lark, tried shooting a half-stick. Nothin’.

He later disposed of the dynamite by burning it.

(He and I blasted through a rocky place for a new road. Very “Laurel and Hardy.” We came within a silken thread of blowing ourselves to smeg.)

Note the last post in this thread…

Yes, it could.

This is the plot device of the movie Sorcerer, a remake of The Wages of Fear. The gist: there’s an oil well fire in the jungles of Central America. They need TNT to snuff it, but the only stuff available has been in a jungle shack for years, unturned, and the nitro has all leaked out into the crate linings. Four desperate men with nothing to lose must drive two trucks over 200 miles of uneven jungle terrain to get the explosive to the well. Trailer.

And everybody else had a good laugh over the prank played on the four idiots who didn’t know that TNT doesn’t contain nitro.
:smiley: :wink:

I assume you are using “nitro” as shorthand for “nitroglycerin,” but out of curiosity, what do you think the “N” in “TNT” stands for? :wink:

It just seemed funny to me to read your statement that TNT (trinitrotoluene) doesn’t contain nitro. On the contrary, each molecule of TNT contains three nitro functional groups, hence the name.

Nonetheless, nitroglycerin and trinitrotoulene are two very different things. Nitroglycerin is dangerously shock sensitive when not stabilized. TNT is so shock resistant that it can be shot out of artillery pieces in explosive shells.

Nitrogen really, really, really wants to be a gas, and to do so will do increasingly loud and amusing things the more nitrogen atoms you pack into a molecule.

I like one column by Derek Lowe where he’s describing a molecule which can be stabilized by combining it with TNT.

“Yes, this is an example of something that becomes less explosive as a one-to-one cocrystal with TNT. Although, as the authors point out, if you heat those crystals up the two components separate out, and you’re left with crystals of pure CL-20 soaking in liquid TNT, a situation that will heighten your awareness of the fleeting nature of life.”