26 May, 2012
Thermite is a powdered mixture of iron oxide and aluminum which, once lit, burns at 4000 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s hot enough to destroy anything it’s sitting on, save for a few rare metals or special high-temperature ceramics. This makes thermite incredibly destructive.
So it’s great, then, that you can buy five pounds of powdered iron oxide for $13.50 and two pounds of powdered aluminum for $23.00, giving you seven pounds of fiery, destructive hellmetal. The only difficult part of the thermite reaction is getting it ignited, and of course, the same online mega-vendor sells long rolls of magnesium ribbon, which can be ignited with a cigarette lighter but burn hot enough to start a pile of thermite.
As a former chemist I feel compelled to note the energy output of the reaction as defined above (using 5 lb of iron (III) oxide as the limiting reactant) is equivalent to the kinetic energy of a 20-ton truck traveling at roughly 70 miles per hour.