While explosives have been used since early civilizations by different groups, controlled explosions that are commonplace today have really only become possible through the use of advanced types of technology. Dynamite, as one of the most commonly used explosives, actually has a relatively short history.
First invented by a Swedish chemist by the name of Alfred Nobel, this material was made by combining diatomaceous earth with nitroglycerine and other types of absorbent materials, including sodium carbonate to act as a stabilizer.
In early times, this type of absorbent materials was often a mixture of different organic types of materials including sawdust, but this tended to create a much less stable type of material. Today, in some manufacturing of the explosive, powdered clay or shells may also be used in a specific formulation.
The first patent for dynamite was granted in England on May 7, 1867. It was then followed by a patented in Sweden on October 19th of the same year. Originally marketed as Nobel’s Blasting Powder, it wasn’t long until the name was officially changed to the current based on the Greek word dymanis, which meant power.
Today’s composition of the explosive is designed to be as safe as possible. The natural shock–sensitive nitroglycerine can also be limited through the use of flour, starches or other types of materials and the addition of a neutralizing antacid. This assists in stabilizing the packaging and the explosive and also extending its shelf-life and storage conditions.
Additionally, ethylene glycol dinitrate is also used to lower the freezing point of the mixture. Without this addition, the combination of the explosive oil and the substrate could become very unstable when in a semi-frozen state, creating safety concerns for both the use and storage of the explosive.
While there are many different specialized types of explosive compounds and options available today, there is still a very real demand for the use of traditional dynamite.
It is still considered to be the explosive of choice in many types of mine blasting, construction and in various demolition projects. There are actually several different types of the explosive including those used in military applications or what is known as “extra” dynamite which uses ammonium nitrate instead of nitroglycerine.
ANFO or ammonium nitrate and fuel oil types of detonations are often enhanced through the use of dynamite, which makes it a supplemental type of explosive in these types of detonations.