How to make Thermite Grenades for Vehicle and Equipment Disabling

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How to Make Thermite

After reading How to disable MRAP Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected Light Armored Vehicles, written by CMF Contributor Runik. I noticed the absence of TGs (thermite grenades) on the use of MRAPs. This caught my attention, and needed an explanation. According to CMF Contributor Runik, Thermite Grenades were not included because they are not entirely effective against MRAP LAVs. Effective thermite use on an MRAP relies on breaches in MRAP FK6 armor, which are few to say the least. Basically…EFPs are still your best bet on an MRAP.

Thermite is used on vehicles and equipment not equipped with FK armor. LAVs with fewer protective measures than the MRAP can be disabled with the proper use of M67s (frags) and thermite grenades by targeting operators, windows, tires, engine-block and etc..

Now before we go into thermite details and development, lets address your PERSEC (personal security). There’s panic about being added to some ‘list’ for reading usCrow Materials, this is absurdly naive. Every American is on a list…its called the internet. Don’t believe me? Get informed on DOD CYBERCOM (Department of Defense Cyber Command), now understand privacy is a dream. This ‘list’ illustrates a blatant violation of the 1st and 4th Amendments, and our rights are inalienable so lets exercise them…

Thermite Use

Thermite is a legal pyrotechnic grade composition of metal powder fuel and oxide. Thermite is not an explosive. Thermite creates a four thousand degree exothermic oxidation incendiary reaction.

Thermite is commonly used in the Middle East by United States Armed Forces. It can be used to destroy buildings, and light-armored personnel equipment such as HMMWVs (high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles not equipped with high-grade FK armor plates). Thermite Grenades such as the ALS-G814 will burn through 5/16″ steel plating, MRAP Cougar’s have 11″ composite plating.

Typically, ALS thermite grenades have a relatively small incendiary damage radius. Most homemade TGs will most likely have a smaller radius than that. ALS TGs are used by field operators for data, artillery, and equipment destruction. Post-disaster a homemade thermite grenade can be used for the same, which includes vehicles that are not frag or incendiary resistant.

Thermite Precautions

Thermite can not be used over recently ignited piles of thermite slag (waste matter separated from metals during the melting of ore), this will cause an accidental ignition and will cause severe burns and eye-damage.

TH3 can not be mixed by intention or fault with water. This will create a steam explosion and cause fragmentary harm to surrounding personnel. In addition, thermite should be handled with care to prevent accidental abrasion-caused ignition. All safety precautions during the production of a TG must be strictly adhered to.

How to make Thermite

The first thing you’ll need is aluminum powder, you can buy this from Amazon. You can make aluminum powder by grinding up soda cans and other aluminum items, but that could cause impurities in your mixture.

Now you need rust or iron oxide, you can buy this on Amazon or at any hardware store in the paint department. You can make iron oxide post-disaster by putting steel wool in a jar in water and covering it with more wool. Use a magnet to prevent the steel wool from floating to the surface. Now, add 5 tbsp of bleach and 5 tbsp vinegar. A day later place the steel wool paste in a coffee filter and let stand for eight hours. This is iron oxide.

The fundamental mixture ratio for thermite is 3 parts iron oxide 2 parts aluminum powder. Mix your 3:2 with 2 parts plaster of paris. Mix the three composite materials thoroughly. A well mixed composite will have uniform coloring. Add just over the amount of water required for the plaster of paris and mix thoroughly.

Once mixed you have a little less than ten minutes to pour your liquid thermite into the  canister. Before pouring the mixture line canister with magnesium ribbon. You can also use thermite igniter fuses. Now fill the canister with the thermite. Set the canister in a safe place and allow time for the composite to harden. Larger canisters take a longer time to harden.

Additional thermite method: Another improvised method for thermite development with a low incendiary yield would be an 8:3 thermite mixture kneaded with 4 parts clay, and with a magnesium ribbon for ignition.

Thermite TH3

Thermite TH3 development is not for the faint of heart and should be made by those well versed in improvised munitions and incendiary devices. For this reason we will not illustrate a step by step for TH3 production. We will give the composition by weight, munitions handlers and informed survivalists will understand;

  • 68.7% Thermite (8 parts iron oxide:3 parts aluminum powder)
  • 2.0% Sulfur
  • 0.3% PBAN (binding agent)
  • 29% Barium Nitrate (increases incendiary reaction)
  • 600gr Housing Canister
  • M201 Igniter (thermite igniter fuse)

Thermite TH3 has a much lower ignition temperature and produces a large flame, while producing an incendiary reaction capable to destroying enemy artillery. TH3 can be effectively used in most post-disaster situations that result in civil unrest and martial law.

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Retired health resources analyst and county level emergency manager with specialized training in NIMS/BICS/IICS/Executive ICS/Multi-agency Coordination. Still relatively young I left the service of the federal government due to increasing concerns.

40 thoughts on “How to make Thermite Grenades for Vehicle and Equipment Disabling

  1. I think iron oxide can be made in under an hour by passing a low voltage thru
    (salt?) water fish tank using a copper wire on one side and an iron bar on the other side as electrodes then periodically scrape the iron oxide off the bar and let it dry. Probably less than 20 volts.

  2. The magnesium strips will ignite the mixture but must be buried at least 2 inches into the mix to ensure ignition. The magnesium ribbon can be hard to light. Its easiest to light with a small butane or propane torch.

  3. I worked in an exotic metals pant where we used a thermitic reaction to fuse the various powdered metal. The metals were tamped into a Sonotube (concrete form made of cardboard) then we used a very simple ignition source: an incandescent lightbulb. Carefully strike the bulb at a shearing angle to break the glass without damaging the tungsten filament. Place the filament atop the termite and cover with a loose pinch. Screw the bulb base into a socket attached to a 110v cord. Close the vacuum chamber door and plug in the cord for 5 seconds. The reaction was 100% certain with this method and it was a very violent exothermic event.
    Of course we we doing 1800 lbs of termite for the production, but the principle is sound.

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  5. Just to throw this out there but if not carefully mixed pure thermite powder can ignite itself.

    • well pile enough coal on the ground and the weight will cause combustion, for that matter wood piles at lumber mills are kept wet for that same reason, good to know !

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  8. I have done a lot of R&D with thermite ignition systems. Use a 10 ohm 1/4 watt resister submerged in loose powder. Short a car battery across the resister legs. The resister explodes with enough energy to ignite the thermite. Simple and cheap.

    • I was wondering if anyone was familiar with the exhaust collection system of a plasma cutter isn’t that iron oxide? Our system at work has 2-55 gal drums that fill 1 drum with light powdery red dust and the second collects heavy red powdery dust. Would either of these be a good grade for making thermite? They get emptied 2 to 3 times a week!

    • I can aknowledge this,I was developing a igniter for my rocket only to find out that it was to explosiv for my engine……….

  9. @m005kennedy
    This is to make a grenade that you can throw. If you just put it in a container loose and dry and throw it and the container splits or breaks then the thermite will spread all over and little or none will actually ignite. Mixing it with parts plaster of paris requires water to make it solidify. Then you can light the fuse and throw it with little/no chance of if breaking up and spilling out of the container.

    • Thermite ignited with a fuse? It’s either going to be a VERY hot fuse…or you are going to need a secondary ignition source…that burns VERY hot. Most thermite I used in the military was a “set and forget”…you put the canister on top of or under what you wanted to disable or destroy…pull the pin…get out and forget about it. Always remember…thermite burns at approximately 4,000 to 5,000 degrees…depending on the quality and content of the mix. Once ignited…don’t even think about trying to put it out…it CAN be done, but it’s better NOT to try.

  10. To Anonymous on September 28, 2013 at 8:25 pm…
    You are NOT going to ignite thermite or any properly formulated and effective thermitic compound using gunpowder. You must not have much experience with this. You are in most cases attempting to ignite iron and aluminum, which requires heat well above and more sustained than what is produced by simple propellant powder. If you can light it with propellant powder, then for sure your thermite composition is not one that is going to reach sufficient temperatures to defeat armor.

  11. the need for a plaster mix isnt necessarily needed. mix the rust(iron oxide) and aluminum powder together. then just put into a bottle, flower pot, etc and put the fuse in. works just as well without the need for buying plaster.

  12. You can use gun powder from a shotgun shell. Or other round. Poke a whole in the middle with a pencil, put your long cannon fuse in the whole and poor the gun powder in the whole with the cannon fuse. Then take the pence and scrape from the outside in all around the fuse making a small mound with the fuse coming out the top then kneed with your fingers closing the whole with the gun powder and the fuse end in and around the fuse making a cavity with gun powder and the fuse, so that the fuse lights the gunpowder and I turn lights the thurmite.

  13. I have found that you can get what’s called “strobes” at the fireworks stands, and they light with a fuse, just like any other fireworks. They have small bits of, I think it;s phosphorus, and as they burn down, they give off brilliant flashes of light. Anyhow, I placed one in a cast iron frying pan, and it nearly burned through the bottom!. They only cost a few cents, and would light thermite without the need for magnesium.
    Another good way to light a thermite cannister, is the fuse end from a road flare. Easy to light in any weather, and gives you a bit of time to throw, or place it, before it burns into, and ignites the thermite. Yes, it does work!

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  16. Alternative for electric ignition:

    Mold the plaster mix with a void in the center at one end (think of a fuse assy in a smoke grenade). A wood rod 1/2 in diameter coated with vaseline works. After the mix sets, remove rod. Fill the void with flashpowder (potassium perchlorate and aluminum powder) mixed with a piece of steel wool. Insert two lengths of copper rod or wire on opposite sides of the void making sure the wire or rod is firmly in contact with the wool. (wire should be 14 ga or larger). Cap the void with paraffin, wax, silicone or other substance that is water resistant.

    A good, fresh 9v battery will ignite the steel wool. A 12v battery is a sure bet.

  17. Based on a rather unique, details classified, experience I had while working at the Nevada Test Site, I can attest that igniting (not exploding) 2-3 lbs of C-4 (or its equivalent) will produce temperatures of approximately 3600 degrees F, and it will slag most cast or milled metals into amorphous objects. Which was the point.

  18. I’ve been saving up wire sparklers. Will those work instead of magnesium ribbon?
    As an aside, check out TOR.

    • Yes. But if you have any trouble, spike the thermite with a little sulfur powder to lower its ignition temperature.

  19. wouldn’t the armor on the mrap over the engine compartment be thinner and possibly open to thermite damage?

  20. any data on how much thermite is required to penetrate 1” of steel or 2” or 3” like a chart?

  21. what is the magnesium strips for that line a canister. i want to make some and test it on an old iron windmill, 2 birds one stone, i test a SHTF munition and get rid of an eyesore.

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