An explosive material, also called an explosive, is a reactive substance that contains a great amount of potential energy that can produce an
The potential energy stored in an explosive material may, for example, be
Explosive materials may be categorized by the speed at which they expand. Materials that
A wide variety of chemicals can explode; a smaller number are manufactured specifically for the purpose of being used as explosives. The remainder are too dangerous, sensitive, toxic, expensive, unstable, or prone to decomposition or degradation over short time spans.
The distinction, however, is not razor-sharp. Certain materials—dusts, powders, gases, or volatile organic liquids—may be simply combustible or flammable under ordinary conditions, but become explosive in specific situations or forms, such as
At its root, the history of chemical explosives lies in the history of gunpowder. During the Tang Dynasty in the 9th century, Taoist Chinese alchemists were eagerly trying to find the elixir of immortality. In the process, they stumbled upon the explosive invention of gunpowder made from coal, saltpeter, and sulfur in 1044. Gunpowder was the first form of chemical explosives and by 1161, the Chinese were using explosives for the first time in warfare. The Chinese would incorporate explosives fired from bamboo or bronze tubes known as bamboo fire crackers. The Chinese also used inserted rats from inside the bamboo fire crackers to fire toward the enemy, creating great psychological ramifications – scaring enemy soldiers away and causing cavalry units to go wild.