It would be burnt outside at about 2 degrees Celsius with about 75 percent air humidity, 1400 meters above sea level. Even though that's not exactly true, I'll treat it like pure guncotton. I'm asking myself questions like if I should use an initial explosion to heat it up and/or spread it out.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I don't know which grade of Nitrocellulose you obtained, but the 12.2% nitrogen is used in gelatine dynamites and the 13.5% nitrogen takes the name of guncotton. I would avoid make exploding 1 Kg of one or another. $\endgroup$ – Jojostack Dec 11 '19 at 15:26
  • $\begingroup$ @jojostack it's guncotton. Of course I wouldn't use it as a weapon. (Guns are way easier to use and harder to trace) I'm living next to a forest and I'm used to playing around with fireworks and smaller amounts of guncotton. Can you give me a link or something? $\endgroup$ – justthisonequestion Dec 11 '19 at 15:36
  • $\begingroup$ We allow questions about chemical weapons on our site, so this wouldn't be much of an issue. However, your question is somewhat thinly rooted in chemistry (the interesting part you have already accomplished). It is quite impossible to judge the quality of your product and from that point it is almost impossible to answer your question. That may attract the downvotes. $\endgroup$ – Martin - マーチン Dec 11 '19 at 17:31
  • $\begingroup$ @Martin-マーチン Thanks a lot. I'll edit the question. $\endgroup$ – justthisonequestion Dec 12 '19 at 7:18

Fire requires three things: heat, fuel and oxygen. When burning a cotton ball, a match will provide heat, the cellulose fibers will provide fuel and the air will provide oxygen. It is the amount of oxygen in the air that causes the cotton to burn relatively slowly. By soaking the cotton in Sulfuric Acid and Nitric Acid, the hydrogens that were attached to the "spokes" of the carbon wheel are broken off and replaced by nitrogen and oxygen. Simply put, the spokes of the carbon wheel get more oxygen atoms stuck to them after a bath in strong acids. With all this extra oxygen, the cellulose can burn much more efficiently and will produce a quick, clean burning flame!

The name nitrocellulose gives a pretty good idea of the chemistry of the gun cotton. The "nitro" refers to the nitrogen groups that attach to the spokes of the glucose carbon wheel. Each of the nitrogens brings extra oxygens with it when it attaches. The "cellulose" of nitrocellulose refers to the cellulose fibers of the cotton. Hence the name "nitrocellulose".

Nitrocellulose is often found as a product called flash paper when 100% cotton paper is subjected to the same reaction. This paper is often used in magic shows as the magician is attempting to redirect the attention of the audience. It is available here and it is wiser to buy flash paper than to try to make your own!

  • $\begingroup$ This is a nice summary of how gun cotton works, it doesn't answer the question though. $\endgroup$ – Martin - マーチン Dec 12 '19 at 12:00

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.