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World War II Questions.

  1. Oct 29, 2006 #1
    Fractional crystalisation. This is the forming of crystals from a couple of substances isn't it?

    Are potassium chlorate crystals stable, will movement or heat set them off?, If so why didn't hand grenades go off during World War II? I'm interested in World War II history as I didn't study it at school. Apparently the Germans and French made grenades out of this stuff.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 29, 2006 #2
    I found this on wikipedia. Hopefully it answers your questions.


    "Potassium chlorate should be handled with care. It reacts vigorously and in some cases spontaneously ignites or explodes when mixed with many combustible materials. It is used in some recipes for gunpowder, generally replacing the less powerful ingredient potassium nitrate. Although chlorate-based propellants are more efficient than traditional gunpowder and are less susceptible to damage by water, they can be extremely unstable due to the sulfur present and are much more expensive. Chlorate propellants must only be used in equipment designed for them; failure to follow this precaution is a common source of accidents.

    When mixed with other materials, it may form a high explosive. The hygroscopic and slightly weaker sodium chlorate is sometimes used as a safer and less expensive substitute for potassium chlorate. In World War I, mixes of potassium chlorate with plasticizers (such as wax) were the most common type of plastic explosive used, often filling grenades and other munitions. When used in explosives as an oxidizer, the explosive is low order meaning it burns rapidly rather than explodes. When mixed with a plasticizer, it may become high order, requiring a blasting cap (generally a commercial #8) to detonate properly."

    I don't know if grenades back then had safety mechanisms, but if they did they would have prevented the KClO3 from at least mixing with other things if not from mechanical shock.
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2006
  4. Oct 30, 2006 #3


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    Staff: Mentor

    This thread is locked. We don't like discussions about how to make explosives here in the PF.
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