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Nitrogen-Trioxide ExplosiveSignal Substain
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PWN17.1 Bust UpdateSir Francis Drake
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PWN17.3 Cracker are Cheating BellThe Sorceress
Title : Nitrogen-Trioxide Explosive
Author : Signal Substain
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                              Phrack  Seventeen
                                07 April 1988

                 File 4 of 12 : Nitrogen-Trioxide Explosives

Working notes on Nitrogen Tri-Iodide (NI-3)

By: Signal Sustain


This particular explosive is a real loser.  It is incredibly unstable,
dangerous to make, dangerous to work with, and you can't do much with it,
either.  A string of Black Cats is worth far more.  At least you can blow up
anthills with those.

NI-3 is basically a compound you can make easily by mixing up iodine crystals
and ammonia.  The resulting precipitate is very powerful and very unstable.
It is semi stable when wet (nothing you want to trust) and absolutely unstable
when dry.  When dry, anything will set it off, such as vibration, wind, sun, a
fly landing on it.  It has to be one of the most unstable explosives you can
deal with.

But it's easy to make.  Anyone can walk into a chem supply house, and get a
bottle of iodine, and and a supermarket, and get clear ammonia.  Mix them and
you're there.  (See below for more on this)

So, some of you are going to try it, so I might as well pass on some tips from
hard experience.  (I learned it was a loser by trying it).

Use Small Batches

First, make one very small batch first.  Once you learn how powerful this
stuff is, you'll see why.  If you're mixing iodine crystals (that's right,
crystals, iodine is a metal, a halogen, and its solid form is crystals; the
junk they sell as "iodine" in the grocery store is about 3% iodine in a bunch
of solvents, and doesn't work for this application), you want maybe 1/4
teaspoonful MAX, even less maybe.  1/4 TSP of this stuff is one hellacious
bang; it rattled the windows for a block around when it went off in my back

So go with 1/4 TSP, if I can talk you into it.  The reason is the instability
of this compound.  If you mix up two teaspoonfuls and it goes off in your
hand, kiss your hand goodbye right down to the wrist.  A bucketful would
probably level any house you'll find.  But 1/4 teaspoon, you might keep your
fingers.  Since I know you're not going to mix this stuff up with remote
tools, keep the quantities small.  This stuff is so unstable it's best to
hedge your bets.

Note:  When holding NI3, try to hold with remote tools -- forceps?  But if you
have to pick it up, fold your thumb next to your first finger, and grip around
with your fingers only.  Do not grip the flask the conventional way, fingers
on one side, thumb of the other.  This way, if it goes, you may still have an
opposing thumb, which is enough to get by with.

The compound is far more stable when wet, but not certain-stable.  That's why
companies that make explosives won't use it; even a small chance of it blowing
up is too dangerous.  (They still lose dynamite plants every now and then,
too, which is why they're fully automated).  But when this stuff gets dry,
look out.  Heinlein says "A harsh look will set it off", and he isn't kidding.
Wind, vibration, a breath across it, anything will trigger it off.  (By the
way, Heinlein's process, from  SF book "Farnham's Freehold", doesn't work,
either -- you can't use iodine liquid for this.  You must use iodine

Don't Store It

What's so wickedly dangerous is if you try to store the stuff.  Say you put it
in a cup.  After a day, a crust forms around the rim of the liquid, and it
dries out.  You pick up the cup, kabang!, the crust goes off, and the liquid
goes up from the shock.  Your fingers sail into your neighbor's lawn.  If you
make this, take extreme pains to keep it all wet.  At least stopper the
testtube, so it can't evaporate.

Making It

Still want to make it?  Okay.  Get some iodine crystals at a chem supply
store.  If they ask, say you need to purify water for a camping trip, and
they'll lecture you on better alternatives (halazone) but you can still get
it.  Or, tell them you've been elected to play Mr. Wizard, and be honest --
you'll probably get it too.  Possession is not illegal.

Get as little as possible.  You need little and it's useless once you've tried
it once.  Aim for 1/4 teaspoonful.

Second, get some CLEAR, NON SUDSY ammonia at the store, like for cleaning
purposes (BUT NO SUDS!  They screw things up, it doesn't make the NI-3).

Third, pour ammonia in a bowl.  Peeew!  Nice smell.

Fourth, add 1/4 TSP or less of iodine crystals.  Note these crystals, which
looks like instant coffee, will attack other metals, so look out for your
tableware.  Use plastic everything (Bowl, spoon) if you can.  These crystals
will also leave long-standing iodine stains on hands, and that's damned
incriminating if there was just an NI-3 explosion and they're looking for who
did it.  Rubber gloves, please, dispose after use.

Now the crystals will sort of spread out.  Stir a little if need be.  Be
damned careful not to leave solution on the spoon that might dry.  It'll go
off if you do, believe me.  (Experience).

Let them spread out and fizzz.  They will.  Then after an hour or so there
will be left some reddish-brown glop in the bottom of the clear ammonia.  It's
sticky like mud, hard to handle..  That's the NI-3.

It is safe right now, as it is wet.  (DO NOT LET A RIM FORM ON THE AMMONIA

Using It

Now let's use up this junk right away and DON'T try to store it.

Go put it outside someplace safe.  In my high school, someone once sprinkled
tiny, tiny bits (like individual crystals) in a hallway.  Works good, it's
like setting off a cap under someone's shoe after the stuff dries.  You need
far less than 1/4 TSP for this, too.

Spread it out in the sun, let it dry.  DO NOT DISTURB.  If you hear a sudden
CRACK!, why, it means the wind just blew enough to set it off, or maybe it
just went off by itself.  It does that too.

It must be thoroughly dry to reach max instability where a harsh look sets it
off.  Of course the top crystals dry first, so heads up.  Any sharp impact
will set it off, wet or dry.

While you're waiting for it to dry, go BURN the plastic cup and spoon you made
it with.  You'll hear small snapping noises as you do; this is the solution
drying and going off in the flames.

After two hours or so, toss rocks at the NI3 from a long ways away, and you'll
see it go off.  Purplish fumes follow each explosion.  It's a sharp CRACK, you
can't miss it.

Anyway.  Like I say, most people make this because the ingredients are so
easily available.  They make it, say what the hell do I do now?, and sprinkle
tiny crystals in the hallway.  Bang bang bang.  And they never make it again,
because you only get one set of fingers per hand, and most people want to keep

Or they put it in door locks (while still in the "sludge" form), and wait for
it to try.  Next person who sticks a key in there has a big surprise.

(This is also why most high school chem teachers lock up the iodine crystals.)

Getting Rid Of It

If you wash the NI-3 crystals down your kitchen sink, then you have to only
wait for them to dry out and go off.  They'll stick to the pipe (halogen
property, there).  I heard a set of pipes pop and crackle for days after this
was done.  I'd recommend going and throwing the mess into a vacant lots or
something, and trying to set it off so no one else does accidentally.

If you do this, good luck, and you've been warned.

-- Signal Sustain

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