How dangerous are blasting caps?

:confused: “Powder monkey”?

a person that handles and uses explosives.

I had a firecracker go off in my hand when I was a kid. It was one of the little ones - not quite as thick as a pencil and maybe just over an inch in length.

My friend and I were even trying to be careful - one of us would hold the firecracker and throw it after the other one had lit the fuse. But somehow he accidentally lit the fuse in the middle and it burned quicker than expected so it went off before I could even just drop it.

Anyhow, my thumb and index and middle fingers were numb for a couple of hours but it didn’t break the skin or even leave any kind of bruise or mark that I recall. Not that bad but I wouldn’t suggest trying it and of course bigger fireworks would cause much more damage.

I remember those PSAs on TV a lot circa 1964, when I was 4–5 years old. Although I didn’t really understand what they were, the PSAs terrified the hell out of me. Made it hard to sleep at night, worrying the blasting caps were going to get me. Never saw any IRL, though.

Edit: Wasn’t there ever any liability for the numskulls who left them unsecured for kids to find?

Originally used to describe the guys who handled the powder on old warships.

Who were often children, but so were the ensigns. :eek:

I was the designated explosives guy in my squad. This was in Nam. My formal training was a 30 minute session with hands on with a dummy Claymore mine and about a 20 minute session on C-4. And there was a SF A-team in our area with very patient Engineering Sergeants who were willing to give me some informal training when we crossed paths.

I had pockets sewn on to the lower outside left leg of my fatigues for BCs. I had a 1/4" steel plate a little wider than a cigarette pack that I rubberbanded the BCs to. And I put a spent 5.56 casing between the BCs. I kept the whole thing in a rubber (that was tricky at times, but I managed it). I always put the steel plate towards my leg. And I ALWAYS shorted the BC leads and the Claymore contacts together. And to play it safe, I always twisted the ends of the wire together at the reel end to keep them shorted together.

I still have 2 legs and feet, so what I did worked.

Why are these things so ridcoulsly sensitive that it seems even picking them up is going to set them off?

I remember about 20 years ago I found one in my parking lot at work. I showed it to the boss he wasn’t sure what to do about it so I just threw it out. After reading this thread I’m wondering if proper protocol would have been to call the police/bomb squad. Keeping in mind that a construction worker would have would have been handling it with a second thought.

My garden is (was) so bad that I raised it. It was dirty back fill from building my house, full of gravel and crap. When they dug out my backyard to put in my patio it was like a small landfill. Soda cans, oil quarts, they even found a big chunk of sidewalk.

Specifically, someone who does excavation work, as opposed to building demolition, ordnance destruction, et cetera.

For the most part they aren’t, especially with modern blasting caps. However, because of the way they used to be categorized (as a Hazard Class 1.4B explosive) they weren’t tightly controlled or tracked. Today, caps that are capable of detonation high grade explosives (anything larger than a certain size linear shaped charge or det cord) are classed as 1.1B and are more tightly controlled. When I assisted a blaster, he just kept a few dozen caps loose in a wooden box in the floorboard of his truck, and he just stored them in his back shed. Today, they’re generally carried in non-conductive foam cutout padding in a Pelican-type box or similar, and have to be stored in a blast-proof bunker rated for the total explosive weight.


…And back into the gene pool 'e goes!

My husband is an evil oil guy who is blasting the way across the country to Canada. Think Keystone project.

I asked him about BC’s and he says that every single BC must be accounted for every day. The company will be liable if someone is injured after the pipeline is finished and even modern BC’s are a danger today and could hurt someone 10 years in the future.

Let me just go out on a limb here, and say that you probably don’t want to insert a blasting cap into your urethra, anus, mouth or other bodily orifice. Also not a good idea to hold any explosive device in your hand while it detonates. You see, when compressed gases have no place to go, they tend to exert a lot of force on any enclosure. (Firearms take advantage of this principle, bullets thrown into a fire don’t “shoot,” they simply pop off like firecrackers.)

Some people might infer that from the label “blasting cap” or “firecracker” itself, but I’m an open-minded guy and willing to participate in the America that elected both Bush and Obama to two terms. Stay classy.

As explosives age they tend to either become inert or become more shock-sensitive.

If you pick up something that was built to the best of 1970s explosives engineering practice but has spent the last 40-ish years sitting out in the sun and rain … As Dirty Harry once said: Do ya feel lucky?? Well do ya?

Also remember we’re talking about kids. When they find something (anything) unfamiliar, they’ll do more and more to play with it until they lose interest, it breaks, or something interrupts the fun. With deteriorated explosives, the “something” is likely to be noisy.

Back in the mid-80’s I saw a demonstration using a detonator (as blasting caps are known here). The guy used to get a lamb’s tail from the butcher, place a detonator on it and set it off.

He used lamb’s tails as they were about the same size as a person’s hand with a good mix of bones, meat & fat to approximate the hand itself.

It blew a good sized hole in the tail and there were bits of pulverised meat & bone raining down over a wide area.

Louis Lingg, one of the Haymarket rioters, put one in his mouth the day before he was to be hanged. He blew off his lower jaw and damaged his face but lasted 6 hours before expiring.

I’ve done dynamite work. (My father and I worked out way through a rock obstacle when building a road.)

We did, out of curiosity, set off a blasting cap by itself. Nice nasty sharp bang – easily enough to tear fingers off a hand. It’s a harsher explosion than you get with firecrackers. It put a small pit into the rock it sat on.

My father told me (but this is foaf level anecdote stuff) that he knew a guy who died from having a pocket full of them go off. Blew his hip off.