Dynamite is an explosive based on the explosive potential of nitroglycerin using diatomaceous earth (Kieselguhr) as an absorbent. It was invented by Swedish chemist and engineer Alfred Nobel in 1867. It is usually sold in the form of a stick roughly eight inches long and one inch in diameter, but other sizes also exist. Dynamite is considered a "high explosive", which means it is much more powerful than gunpowder.
The chief uses of dynamite used to be in construction, mining, and demolition. During the industrialization there was a large need for such potent explosives for use in the mining industry and in tunnel construction. However, newer explosives and techniques have replaced dynamite in many applications. Dynamite has not been used commercially for decades.
Dynamite has been used in armed conflicts.
On occasion, criminals interested in safe-cracking have deliberately extracted nitroglycerin from dynamite by boiling up the sticks and 'skimming' the nitroglycerin as it was forced out.
Dynamite is quite insensitive to impact, friction and shock. A stick will not even explode in a small fire. A small explosion will detonate dynamite; a blasting cap or similar device is used for this effect. Dynamite can also be detonated by soaking it in gasoline, and then burning it.
In long-term storage, dynamite will 'sweat', meaning the nitroglycerin will pass out of the absorbent to form drops of pure liquid on the surface of the stick. This causes a serious safety hazard and has led to a decrease of the popularity of dynamite
Dynamite contains three parts Nitroglycerin, one part diatomaceous earth and a small admixture of Sodium Carbonate (soda). This mixture is formed into short sticks and wrapped in paper.
Nitroglycerin by itself is a very strong explosive, but in its pure form it is shock-sensitive (i.e., physical shock can cause it to explode) and it degrades over time to even more unstable forms. This makes it highly dangerous to transport or use in its pure form. Absorbed into diatomaceous earth nitroglycerin is not shock-sensitive.
The Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel first constructed dynamite in 1867 in Krummel , near Hamburg, Germany. By coincidence he discovered that nitroglycerin absorbed in diatomaceous earth is insensitive to impact. With this he discovered the first manageable explosive stronger than black powder. He patented his discovery in October 1867. Nobel originally sold dynamite as "Nobel's Safety Blasting Powder". After its introduction, dynamite rapidly gained popularity as a safe alternative to gunpowder and nitroglycerin. Nobel tightly controlled the patent, and unlicensed duplicators were quickly shut down. However, a few American businessmen got around the patent by using a slightly different formula. Despite this, dynamite brought Nobel a great fortune, which he used to found the Nobel Prize.
The word dynamite comes from the Greek word δυναμις (dunamis), meaning power, and the Greek suffix -ιτης (-itēs).