Ah, youth. Blowing shit up should be part of a well balanced adolescence. There's nothing like blowing the shit out of plastic army guys for fun. Actually no, don't try this at home kids.

I have a friend who was really into chemistry when he was in high school. Well, maybe not chemistry so much as in blowing shit up. He, as I, was inspired by a Jules Verne novel, Mysterious Island, I think. Basically, it was some guys marooned on a island and did all these ingenious things to stay alive. Make nitroglycerin, and other such things. Very cool.

Anyway, he would get his parents to pick him up stuff at chemical wholesalers, nitric acid, sulphur other things. He had a lab in the basement of his parent's ranch house. This particular ranch house was a large one to match the large ranch on which it was located. So there was lots of room for trying things out, and nobody to call the cops or anything. So we had a lot of fun. Melting cans and other things in a fireplace with a sort of very low end thermite. Gunpowder in CO2 cartridges or cardboard tubes, fuse, epoxy. Epoxy is your friend, but wait for it to set properly. A bad fuse is not. We were religious in the use of proper fuse. Never never homemade fuse.

Later, something better than gunpowder, made in a basement lab at great risk. To this day, I'm not sure how great a risk, but we're probably lucky we both still have our hands. Gunpowder would tear a CO2 cartridge along it's weak points. This stuff shredded it. It was terrific.

A Large field, used gunpowder tin, CO2 cartridge, epoxy, fuse. Oh yeah, some gunpowder and a little tiny bit of gasoline. More gasoline just sets more grass on fire. A small amount of vaporized gasoline is far more impressive. We lit a long fuse and ran away. Far away. We were concerned about tin shrapnel. The fuse was very long. It was a long wait, but worth it. An impressive fireball.

Why do they teach welding skills in shop? Somebody at my high school used an arc welder to make a hole in a vice. One of those big bench vices. Anyway, I learned to weld. Some how, somebody got the right idea to make a cannon. It had a shrapnel shield around it so that when the CO2 cartridge which we used as ammo jammed in the barrel, the shrapnel might not be as bad. In retrospect, it probably just added more shrapnel potential. Fortunatly we never found out how effective the shrapnel shield was.

We tried to the range the cannon by shooting it over a lake so we could see the splash. More of a pond than a lake really. It must have gone over; there was no splash. We never found our projectiles, except for the one we embedded in a fence post.

GI Joe. Filled with gunpowder. A fuse up his butt, and lots of epoxy around the joints to make a good seal. Boom! It's really quite spectacular. Poor GI Joe.

Rockets. Model rockets. Model rockets with boomers attached to the ejection side. But DO NOT take the clay plug out and try to light it by hand for fun! I burnt my eyebrows off doing this. But I also singed my eyebrows starting a fire once. That reminds me of being in cubs, and building a great big fire, and then a leader poured diesel on it and lit it up. That reminds me of the time a friend and I lit a fire with gas. FHOOM! A tower of flame, roaring heat! That was a fun one.

One time, a cousin and I found some old rifle shells that used something other than gunpowder. I can't remember what it was... cordite?? I don't recall. Anyway, it came in little sticks, and we would take the sticks out of the shells and light them up. That was cool. So we put some in a bic pen tube and we had us a pen rocket.

Now that I'm in University, I no longer have time to blow shit up. Plus, I'd prefer to continue having fingers, oh, and I am no longer an adolescent boy, even though blowing shit up is still cool. Even the most careful people can have accidents.

And oh yeah! I forgot the potato gun. My uncle made one once, and him and his staff (he runs a machine shop) used to shoot this thing from the back of the machine shop. Splat!

I'm not even going to say about the smoke bomb...

So although I had a pyrotechnic childhood, I'm glad to say that the only mishap I ever had was my eyebrows. They grew back.


And from the froth of the chedderbox; born were these words:

AntonZ: ever tried making Iodine nitrite?
me: Hmm, don't recall. I remember something with iodine, which made crytals that made nifty poping noises when stepped upon...

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