Explosive silver

How to make an explosion using silver

Ex­plo­sive sil­ver in an ex­plo­sive new video!

Safe­ty pre­cau­tions

Do not try this at home. Only un­der pro­fes­sion­al su­per­vi­sion.

Reagents and equip­ment

  • cal­ci­um car­bide;
  • 50mL Tol­lens’ reagent;
  • wa­ter;
  • con­i­cal flasks;
  • cork with gas pipe;
  • fun­nel;
  • fil­ter pa­per;
  • burn­er.

Step-by-step in­struc­tions

Add a small piece of cal­ci­um car­bide to a con­i­cal flask with 50mL of wa­ter, and close it us­ing a cork with a gas out­let tube. Im­merse the free end of the gas out­let tube in 50mL of Tol­lens’ reagent. Wait for the re­ac­tion to die down. A loose, grey­ish-white pre­cip­i­tate will form in the sec­ond flask. Fil­ter it through a fun­nel with fil­ter pa­per and rinse with wa­ter. Pat the pre­cip­i­tate dry with fil­ter pa­per and set a small amount on fire. And boom!

Process de­scrip­tion

The re­ac­tion be­tween cal­ci­um car­bide and wa­ter pro­duces acety­lene gas and cal­ci­um hy­drox­ide:


Pass­ing acety­lene gas through a so­lu­tion of Tol­lens’ reagent (am­mo­nia sil­ver hy­drox­ide so­lu­tion) yields a fri­able grey-white pre­cip­i­tate of sil­ver acetylide:


Sil­ver acetylide is an ex­treme­ly un­sta­ble ex­plo­sive. The few­er im­pu­ri­ties it con­tains, the more dan­ger­ous it is. Sil­ver acetylide can ex­plode when heat­ed and me­chan­i­cal­ly stressed.