Sunday, February 18, 2024


The always interesting Cody's Lab presents Pop Can Thermite.

He starts with aluminum cans and sand.  He melts the cans to dispose of paint and other impurities, uses a lathe on the cast aluminum to make filings, then a ball mill to make powder.  

Electromagnet to extract magnetite from the sand.  Then he mixes it with the aluminum powder.  He does not reveal the ignition powder, but my guess is magnesium powder and either ammunition propellant or black powder.

Fire of great heat is produced.  During WW2, thermite bombs were the terror of London because you can only put them out with sand.  Water disassociates and burns.

The next and more intriguing step is to pour magnetite into cans, crush them, then use thermite to light them.  They burn just fine.

Thermite can be used for welding, burning through tank armor, cutting structural steel, I think, and producing a low grade of iron from a very common iron ore.  Add some coal to produce purer iron as a first step towards iron tools, spears, swords, etc  The scenarios under which these can be used in any post-apocalyptic novel are endless.

Of course, having a few pounds of aluminum powder already is obvious.

1 comment:

  1. it isn't hard to make your own aluminum powder and red iron oxide powder...but it is a pain and takes time.

    You can buy some Iron oxide powder for $4 a pound at Amazon

    Aluminum and magnesium shavings are available as well.

    I find that using magnesium to ignite the termite recipe is easier. YMMV

    When making aluminum powder, be careful. It can ignite easily.