Thermite Recipes

Copper Thermite

Copper(II) thermite. The spray is molten copper metal.

Here are my recipes for thermite, based upon trial and error and some actual science. Note that while these ratios are based on molar stoichiometry, I’ve made some adjustments in order to attain certain desirable qualities (ie, more aluminum makes a brighter and faster reaction, and often lowers the activation energy). The exotic thermites all have different cool properties, but generally I’ve found that iron and sulfer give the best reactions.

Amazing Rust has a lot of excellent information on this subject, particularly in regards to exotic thermites involving other metals.

Magnetite:

I live near Siesta Key beach in Florida, which boasts some of the purest and finest quartz sand in the nation. I’d always hoped to take advantage of its purity to some day melt some into glass- a goal that complemented my experience with thermite. In 2009, while reading about soda glass, I stumbled upon a recipe that claimed to reduce the melting point of quartz by a significant amount. I knew that even the best thermite experimenters sometimes had trouble making glass, and so I figured treating the sand would be a valid way to guarantee fusion.

The recipe called for adding sodium carbonate to the sand and then mixing the two together very well(presumably until each particle of quartz was uniformly coated). I made the sodium carbonate by just heating up baking soda in an oven (Sodium Bicarbonate decomposes to sodium carbonate and carbon dioxide in heat). Once it was done, I mixed it in with the sand in about a 1:4 Carbonate:Silica ratio. The resulting mixture performed well, as evidenced by the excellent green lime glass affixed to the pot in the final photo of this video:

Iron(II,III) Oxide and Aluminum

Cupric Oxide:

Cuprous Oxide:

Stannic Oxide:

Silicon Dioxide:

This reaction is very, very cool. The idea is that you can take ordinary sand, mix it with aluminum and sulfer, and create a thermite reaction that liberates elemental silicon. My only qualm with the reaction is that the resulting silicon has nasty pockets of sulfer byproducts in it, and so it will create an ungodly smell unless you find some way to seal it off (it won’t dry out- humidity in the air reacts with the sulfer compounds to create smelly H2S and sulfuric acid, which corrodes the product. There are ways of making the thermite without using sulfur to boost the reaction, but I have never tried them and they sound generally unreliable. Nonetheless, the reaction is totally worth trying, especially for the guffaws of onlookers when the thermite flame turns bright blue:

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3 thoughts on “Thermite Recipes

  1. Phase Transitions and Ferrofluid | gammacephei

  2. Scratching holograms into bulletproof glass | gammacephei

  3. My first thermite | gammacephei

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