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Chocolate bombs II

It seems you good folk out there like to read about explosives, so I have chosen to do another explosive themed blog entry. I recall my horror at reading someone claim (based on a misunderstanding of what I have written) that chocolate can be turned into explosives.

Now I know that some people with very bad morals exist out there and some are talented when it comes to chemicals, but chocolate into bombs is a tall order. I thought about the classic method for making explosives. That is to react organic compounds with nitric acid.

In a typical reaction an organic compound is mixed with sulphuric acid and nitric acid. This mixture of acids tends to form nitrate esters with alcohols and convert aromatics into nitroaromatics. These changes are just the sort of thing you need to make an explosive like TNT or PETN. So then I thought of what would happen if I mixed chocolate with either strong sulphuric or nitric acid.

I first thought of the sulphuric acid, it is important to remember that conc sulphuric acid is a dehydration reagent. If you mix table sugar with it then you tend to form lots of heat and acid spray as the acid causes an exothermic dehydration reaction. As chocolate is mostly sugar I would expect it to react with the sulphuric acid to make a lot of carbon. Here is a video of sugar and sulphuric acid.

Not much good for making explosives, then if you change to using nitric acid alone then something else will go wrong. If you react nitric acid with glucose then you tend to form a dicarboxylic acid. This is by a oxidation of the aldehyde and the terminal alcohol groups in the sugar. This reaction was used by Fischer years ago. Fischer was one of the first ever sugar chemists.


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