Imagine the police (or army or whoever's job is that) found out that some maniac placed a lot of primary explosives under a building. They have evacuated the building and deactivated the trigger.

What now? You have a barrel full of Acetone peroxide (terrorist's favourite explosive). You move it - it might blow.

Even if it doesn't - can you react acetone peroxide slowly, to avoid explosion?

What do factories do with this compound formed as a side waste?

Could you answer the same for nitroglycerine?

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    $\begingroup$ There are some good guidelines and recommendations here: bnl.gov/esh/cms/pdf/peroxides.pdf . There are ways to dilute such compounds in the laboratory before disposal, however I don't think this question is particularly answerable since what must be done in a given possible explosive situation depends on many factors that are not chemistry related. Consider scaling the question back by simply asking how to properly dispose or make safe the compound in question. It might help if you restrict it to one compound, since one solution might not apply to both. $\endgroup$
    – Adam Davis
    Sep 7, 2014 at 18:49
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    $\begingroup$ I think it is not a chemistry question / mostly off-topic. The core part of the question - how to move or discard some highly unstable / home made explosives - is offtopic. It makes only ontopic sense under lab conditions (how to avoid problems working with these materials, how to dispose them etc), which are rather different from the barel-under-the-bridge scenario both in scale and in constrains. Also, acetone peroxide is not "terrorist's favorite explosive". It is idiots favorite explosive. $\endgroup$
    – Greg
    Jul 11, 2015 at 8:21
  • $\begingroup$ @Greg Where's written applied chemistry is off topic? Using science in practical (even if hypothetical) situations is also chemistry. $\endgroup$ Jul 11, 2015 at 14:54

3 Answers 3


I don't know if it's practical to dissolve or otherwise stabilize acetone peroxide, but I could see absorbing nitroglycerine with sawdust or trapping it in gelatine, rendering it more stable, which is how dynamite is made. Certainly if it can be done safely, detonating in place is be the preferred solution for dealing with unstable explosives. It's done frequently with unexploded munitions if they're deemed too dangerous to move, e.g. WWII bomb in Munich. I also visited a potash mine once. Old dynamite tends to "sweat" nitroglycerine, but the explosives lockers are designed such that the contents can be detonated in place without causing damage, if this happens as it's safer than attempting to remove them.

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    $\begingroup$ In Dynamite, Kieselgur (diatomite) is typically used as an absorbent. $\endgroup$ Sep 8, 2014 at 16:02
  • $\begingroup$ I think you are thinking of gelignite. But the principle is the same. $\endgroup$ Aug 25, 2016 at 2:19

I can think of one way: Dilute it in ethanol (or other flammable solvent) and burn the mixture.

BTW, It would be very unlikely that either of these would be a generated in a side reaction.

  • $\begingroup$ Acetone peroxide is a by-product during ecstasy synthesis. But I guess that doesn't happen in factories. Does acetone peroxide dissolve in ethanol? $\endgroup$ Sep 7, 2014 at 14:36
  • $\begingroup$ IDK, but acetone and ethanol are miscible so I would think that the peroxide is as well. $\endgroup$
    – LDC3
    Sep 7, 2014 at 14:49
  • $\begingroup$ I'm definitely not going to test it any time soon and I wish for a complete and reliable answer. $\endgroup$ Sep 7, 2014 at 15:25
  • $\begingroup$ It's a good thing that caution over rules recklessness. $\endgroup$
    – LDC3
    Sep 7, 2014 at 15:35
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    $\begingroup$ TATP may be formed from acetone used as a solvent in the "classical" oxidation of isosafrole by aqueous performic acid, which is formed in situ from formic acid and hydrogen peroxide. $\endgroup$ Sep 7, 2014 at 17:14

Add denatured alcohol or another soluble liquid. Even if its not completely dissolved the slurry becomes greatly insensitive. TATP gets its power when allowed to dry out; even the slightest moisture (water or solvent) will greatly hinder its power until allowed to dry out. Or wait 2-3 months for sublimation to occur. Nitroglycerin may be deflagrated in an open area.


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