Thermite is a very explosive mixture of aluminum powder and Iron (III) oxide. It was first invented by Dr. Hans Goldschmidt in 1893. He first used it as a welding tool for railroad tracks: once the thermite ignited and became molten, it would melt through the container into a that connects two railroad tracks. Then it would cool, forming one long track.
Okay, so enough of the boring facts. Let's have some FUN with this!
Chances are, if you're a male teenager, you like explosions. Hell, you might even like them if you're female. ... You know what? Everyone loves explosions. So this writeup is for you! It'll show you how to make an extremely dangerous explosion with but a few items, ultimately making Thermite.
WARNING! THIS EXPERIMENT IS VERY DANGEROUS. I'M NOT FUCKING KIDDING. ONCE THE THERMITE IS IGNITED, YOU CAN'T SMOLDER IT WITH ANYTHING! Water will turn into steam upon hitting the thermite once ignited, and dry ice will simply melt. It's highly reactive and reaches about 2500 °C. You MUST do this outside, and in an area where there isn't a lot of flammable stuff. Indeed, be very careful! You could very easily burn your house, yard, or yourself if you're a moron here! Want a video of this? http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-7231843493488769585
-Iron (III) Oxide (aka rust. Scrape some rust off of some stuff that has it)
-Aluminum powder (notes on acquiring this later)
-Flower pot (for holding the mixture)
-OPTIONAL: Scale (for measuring mass and getting the best reaction)
-Magnesium ribbon (alternatively, a 4th of July sparkler or firework thing will do. Basically, anything that can act as a fuse and gets hot enough)
Getting aluminum powder - Aluminum powder can be bought at paint stores, for it is used to make paints shiny and metallic. However, don't buy large quantities of it, lest you want the FBI on your ass. Alternatively, Etch-A-Sketches have Aluminum powder. If you're that desperate, you could probably take some aluminum foil or a soda can and scrape some off with some sort of ROUGH file (Though be sure to clean the file thoroughly afterwards, or else you run the risk of a spontaneous thermite reaction taking place).
Getting iron(III) oxide - This is easy. Scrape some rust off of places. If you can't for some reasons, you could run a large magnet over beach sand; iron (III) oxide is abundant on beaches. Also, according to WikiBooks:
Alternatively, burning steel wool will form Iron Oxide but is highly ineffective for making thermite using this formula. A more effective way is to mix bleach with fine steel wool. The reaction is quick. Adding vineger after mixing the steel wool and bleach together in a 2:1 ratio greatly increases the reaction speed and rust is produced instantly however the vineger and bleach (even in the presence of iron) produces toxic chlorine gas. This should only be done outside or in a fume hood
Step 1: Mix the rust and the aluminum powder into the flower pot. It is recommended that if you're trying this on your own, you use a VERY SMALL quantity of the mixture. One small bag full of thermite is enough to melt right through the engine block of a car, if you want an example. For maximum effiency, use your scale to get a ratio of 1 Aluminum:3 rust (by mass). This is simply the result of the stoichiometry of the chemical reaction. Mix the mixture well.(NOTE: STORING THERMITE IS DANGEROUS! If it ever ignites for some reason, the results could be dangerous. If you make the mixture, you should use it, not store it)
Step 2: Find a good open space to work in. Seriously. You don't want anything nearby you catching fire. Like, for example, grass. This would be a Bad Thing. One possibility is digging a small crater for this.
Step 3: With the mixture in the flower pot, set your fuse inside it. One possibility is the magnesium strip: Light one end of it with a butane lighter, with the other end inside the thermite itself. Some sparklers will also work, as I mentioned above. One more possibility is using the end of a match. To do this, stick the head of a match inside the thermite, then using another match or a lighter, light the wooden end of the match. The flame should crawl down to the match's head and ignite the thermite. Whatever method you use, STAND THE FUCK BACK!
Step 4: Watch it. Be careful. The reaction is HIGHLY exothermic, and can reach 2500 °C. It releases 851 kiloJoules per mole. A whole lotta fucking heat. You should see this very easily when it reacts: the mixture of powder should become molten and start sparking and whatnot. Obviously, you shouldn't touch this. It's very hot. And don't try to smolder it with, say, water or anything: it won't work. When the reaction is done, you should be left with a glowing molten core. Wait until this cools down on its own, sorry, you can't do anything about it. When this happens, that's the end of the reaction. I hope you didn't kill yourself or burn your house down.
What's happening here? Well, essentially, aluminum is a more reactive metal than iron. It literally strips the oxygen atoms from the iron(III) oxide in a highly exothermic single replacement reaction. You could easily use, say, Copper (II) oxide, but this isn't as effective a reaction. But it still works.
Fe2O3 + 2 Al --> Al2O3 + 2 Fe + 851.5 kJ
For the more visually inclined, here's a badass video of the thermite reaction causing some destruction, taken from the TV show Brainiac. http://youtube.com/watch?v=WrCWLpRc1yM
Please don't sue me. Also, to the people tapping this, I swear I'm not a terrorist. Please don't arrest me, I have my whole life ahead of me.