"Nitro-Explosives -- A Practical Treatise"

by P. Gerald Sanford, F.I.C., F.C.S.

Hard-to-find texts on rocket igniters,
                          ignition, pyrotechnics, propellants, and


Nitro-Explosives: A Practical Treatise Concerning the Properties, Manufacture, and Analysis of Nitrated Substances, Including the Fulminates, Smokeless Powders, and Celluloid

By P. Gerald Sanford, F.I.C., F.C.S., Pubic Analyst to the Borough of Pensance; late Consulting Chemist to the Cotton Powder Company Limited; and formerly Resident Chemist at the Stowmarket Works of the New Explosives Company Limited, and the Hayle Works of the National Explosive Company Limited

Second Edition, Revised and Enlarged (London: Crosby Lockwood and Son; New York: Van Nostrand Company)

You have found the masterpiece British treatise on explosives!

An authoritative, complete, and comprehensive technical reference resource for the professional pyrotechnician, explosives engineer, and propellant scientist. 

For 98 years, this classic volume has served as the most important single textbook, operating handbook, laboratory manual, and technical reference on the subject of explosives chemistry, engineering, manufacture, testing, handling, and storage.

The lengthy and highly-detailed work encompasses all of these key subjects:

  • Nitroglycerin
  • Nitrocelluloses (Guncotton, Collodion Cotton, Tonite, Celluloid, Nitrostarch, Nitro-Jute, Nitro-Mannite, etc)
  • Dynamite (Ordinary, Gelatin, Gelignite, Blasting Gelatin, etc)
  • Nitro-Benzol, Roburite, Bellite, Picric Acid, etc (Nitro-Toluene, Dinitrotoluene, Trinitrotoluene, Nitro-Benzene, Dinitrobenzene, Trinitrobenzene, Trinitrocresol, Securite, Tonite No. 3, Nitro-Napthalene, Melinite, etc)
  • The Fulminates
  • Smokeless Powders (Cordite, Axite, Ballistite, US Naval Powder, Schultze’s Powder, Indurite, Vielle Poudre, Walsrode and Cooppal Powders, Amberite, Troisdorf, BN Powder, Wetterin, Maximite, Picric Acid Powders, etc)
  • Analysis of Explosives 
  • Firing Point of Explosives, Heat Tests, Etc
  • Determination of the Relative Strength of Explosives
Dr. Sanford begins with a historical review of nitro-explosives, detailing the many substances that have been nitrated over the centuries.  Hundreds of kinds of dynamites have been formulated and manufactured during the more than 140 years since Alfred Nobel began its manufacture.  Sanford explains in fine detail how each of dozens of dynamite compositions are formulated and mixed, including both those with inert and active bases.

Sanford also reviews the various properties (velocities, pressures, etc) of smokeless and sporting powders in sundry rifles and cannons, and naval guns.

The text fully describes how to make (among other items useful for magic tricks and indoor pyrotechnics experiment) guncotton and flashpaper.  He also goes into the dangers in making these compounds.

Esoteric explosives?  Dr. Sanford describes exactly how to make nitro-starches, nitro-jute, nitro-mannite, and other exotic types, on both a small- and large-scale basis.  How about nitro-coal?  Or nitro-glue?  Or nitro-lignite?  Nitro-molasses? Nitro-tar?  All are in this fine book.

Among the hard-to-find explosives described and discussed are:

  • Abel’s mixture
  • Amberite
  • Ammonite
  • Amvis
  • Atlas Powders
  • Axite
  • B.N. Powder
  • Ballistite
  • Bellite
  • Burgère’s powders
  • Carbo-Dynamite
  • Celtite
  • Dualine
  • Electronite
  • Faversham powder
  • Geloxite
  • Greinter’s Powder
  • Henrite
  • Hercules Powders
  • Indurite
  • Keil’s Explosive
  • Maximite
  • Melinite
  • Nitro-coal
  • Nitro-colle
  • Nitro-glucose
  • Nitro-jute
  • Nitro-mannite
  • Nitro-molasses
  • Nitro-saccharose
  • Nitro-starch
  • Picric acid, picric powders, and various picrates
  • Prismatic amide
  • Rendrock
  • Roburite
  • Schultze’s E.C. powder
  • Securite
  • Sprengel’s explosives
  • Tonite
  • Trinitrocresol
  • Troisdorf
  • Tschiner’s Powder
  • Victorite
  • Vielle Poudre
  • Vigorite
  • Von Foster’s Powder
  • Vulcan Powder
  • Walsrode and Cooppal Powders
  • Wetterin

Even gunpowder (black powder) is discussed.  In fact, Dr. Sanford give much attention to comparative tests of black and nitro powders.

For the laboratory tech, the chapter on “Analysis of Explosives” is exhaustive.  Explosives sensitivity testing is an important part of Sanford’s treatise.  He covers determination of firing points by temperature, shock, and impact.  Also described are how to determine the relative strength of any explosive, with dozens of different methods, tools, and setups.

Analytical lab tests are given (with descriptions and illustrations of the classic labware setups) for dynamite, nitroglycerin, gelatin compounds, nitrocellulose, Tonite, Cordite, celluloid, picric acid and picrates, fulminates, blasting cap compositions, nitro-cotton and other nitrated celluloses, determination of nitrogen content with various apparatus and procedures, etc. 

The tools, techniques, and systems described here have long been used by major British explosives manufacturers, and are known to be factual and highly accurate. Please do not let a cheap book written by amateurs, or a faulty “Poor Man’s James Bond” type CD-ROM lead you to disaster!

The more than 60 highly-detailed illustrations--many of them from fine engravings--show the details of construction for mixing machines, cartridge-making machines, electric exploders, laboratory equipment, testing hardware, and so forth.  There are also numerous tables, charts, and graphs showing test results, gas volume corrections, and sundry other key data.

You can see for yourself some of the contents:




Samples of the text:






Here's a sampling of the quality illustrations you'll find in Dr. Sanford's treatise:



Some of the laboratory equipment and setups described:



As you can see, this fine book is a real gem!

Very hard to find and now very out-of-print, this new limited edition has been republished by the Rocket Science Institute.  It's printed with a high-resolution laser printer (notphotocopied) on high-quality, bright-white, acid-free paper for years of reference use.  330 pages, including more than 60 highly-detailed engineering illustrations, and a comprehensive index.  ISBN 1-878628-41-0       $29.95

Airmail postage international (most destinations) US$ 14.50.
Insurance (optional and recommended):  $2.85 (USA)          $4.45 (Canada)          $5.85 (everywhere else)

USA (Insured Priority Mail: $7.70)
USA (Insured Media Rate: $5.85)
Canada (Airmail: $8.85)
Europe (Airmail: $14.85)
Australia, NZ, Japan (Airmail: $18.85)
Inquire for International Postage to Other Destinations

We ship worldwide -- you pay only actual postal costs: combine several books into one shipment to save!
100% positive comments from more than 1,600 happy customers worldwide!

Many other unusual books in our eBay Store !

Ordering by mailOther questions ?


The Rocket Science Institute is a non-profit scientific and educational foundation in support of "amateur" experimental rocket science, engineering, and technology.

Rocket Science Institute, Inc., P.O. Box 1253, Carmel Valley CA 93924 USA     •     e-mail: books@rocketsciencebooks.com 

Book Catalog
Nitrate-type Propellants Group

                        texts on rocket igniters, ignition,
                        pyrotechnics, propellants, and explosives