I lost my right lower leg at the age of fifteen after synthesizing nitroglycerin and other explosives. AMA
Everytime I tell someone how I lost my leg they ask a lot of questions. Then it occures to me that this was a much better way to answer them.
I have been experimenting all my life. 7 years ago I started experimenting with fireworks and explosives and it came to a point where I was able to synthesize some pretty complex explosives(TNT being my to achievement). On one unfortunate night I lost my lower leg due to an accident involving a self produced stick of dynamite(nitroglycerine+Ammonium nitrate, silvernitrate and petn primer)
Edit: proof in dutch. It wasnt world news i'm afraid
EDIT: been answering questions for ten hours now so im going to go to sleep :p will check back tomorrow since i'm on reddit everyday anyway so don't hesitate to post your question
To all of you, thx alot, I had a great time. Except ofcourse the guys who called me.a dumbass, fuck you
Edit 2: since im having fun with it i will just keep answering questions till this thing dies down... But with breaks ofcourse :p you guys made me not pay attention to half of my lecture today xD
You started stamping on a toilet roll that contained nitroglycerin?
This. It takes two things to set off explosive heat and pressure and OP provided both. Side note GIs used to heat there food with C-4 just light it and it slowly burned however it was well know to never stomp the flame to extinguish it. I always wondered if it really worked.
Mythbusters did an episode on this. C4 can't be set off with anything short of a blasting cap, you could hit it with a sledgehammer and it still wouldn't go off. It's actually pretty awesome how stable C4 is.
Thats why its such a widely used explosibe
Sources confirm that C-4 can not be detonated by stomping in it while its on fire but you were dealing with something different. Do you think this could have caused the explosion? Was there ever any investigation to why or was it just left up to you were fucking around with nitroglycerin trying to make TNT and left at that?
Forgive me if this was asked, looked through the comments and didn't see. Thanks.
What exactly? I think the fire set off the explosive, but there is no way to be sure. It might be a coping mechanism to shift some.of the blame away from myself
Follow up question, how did your father respond to the news?
First time i saw my dad cry, only one at that. I still have a letter from.him.somewhere. Touching stuff
why in gods name did you light it on fire?
How else would you test flammability?
If it caught on fire, I wouldn't stomp it out; I'd be sprinting in the opposite direction, presumably screaming "SSHHHHHHHHIIIIIIIIITTTT"
If you would be able to think rationally maybe. However i was just in caveman mode: man.see fire, stompstompstomp
Did the same when my experiments caught fire. (Ammoniumnitrate and Diesel was it I think) aftermath: shoe got ruined, I lost a lot of bodyhair and was quite deaf for some days but luckely nothing that bad. Never touched anything like this besides blackpowder again
Finally someone with some field experience who did the same. Thx for confirming its a natural instinct
Heh, I understand what you mean. My (sometimes idiot) brother once turned a relatively controlled little fire into a minor disaster when he instinctively kicked said fire. Not stomp, because it was burning too high, but an outward kick that sent burning pine needles flying over a wide area, with the expected consequences.
Exactly! One small mistake can have large consequences
You will either have a great career as an industrial chemist or a terrorist.
I am an aspiring pharmacist these days, since I later took an interest in synthesing drugs and their workings instead of explosives.
Still alot of chemistry involved though.
You mention your ability to synthesise chemicals and a later interest in drug synthesis and pharmacy...
Excuse me for asking an obvious question but I feel the need to for curiosity's sake (and PM me if you don't want it on here) - have you ever synthesised any form of drug, particularly of the illicit kind?!
Haha good question! The precursors for illicit drugs are very well monitores and.much less common. So i have never done it.
Also to synthesize something I would take sounds dangerous
This makes me wonder how controlled/monitored Mimosa Hostilis root bark is...
Not at all, i did an extraction once for personal use.. Hardly a synthesis thoufh
From what I've read MDMA and LSD synthesis are pretty easy for someone who has a good understanding of organic chemistry and a distillation apparatus
I thought those where the hard ones?
Doesnt matter, the thing is those precursors (MDA and ergotamine if im not mistaking) are very closely monitored
Most syntheses for MDA and MDMA begin with safrole (or sassafras oil, from which you'd have to extract the safrole). If you're really lucky, you begin with 3.4-methylenedioxy-phenylacetone (and then perform a reduction a la pseudoephedrine---->meth). While it is possible to methylate MDA, usually the MDA itself is simply sold.
The LSD synthesis is considerably more difficult than that of MDMA.
Thx for the info!
You would start with Safrole or Sassafras oil before you get MDA I believe, been a while since I've brushed up on those
And I was regarding the synthesis being easy, not getting the reagents. But they're definitely possible to get just gotta know where to look
Did you get the recipe from the world wide web? Did you face criminal charges.
Yes i got the recipe off the internet, and no, the police thought I suffered enough
Wow, GG cops.
Dutch cops are nice guys
07 was a different time entirely, im sure that mentality has changed drastically now.
also why did you light the glue on fire i am having trouble understanding this
Because i wanted to know if it was flammable. I did not want it to ignite in my face when i lit the explosibe
Jolly Rodger cookbook?
No, far as sources go thats one of the worst
Have you ever dressed up as a pirate at Halloween?
Yes, but no wooden peg for a leg unfortunately. It was more of an excuse. I put on an eyepatch and called myself a pirate. When people denied it i said i was more of a pirate then them since i had a wooden leg.
That's cool, I almost didn't ask that question for fear of it being perceived as offensive.
Its the internet. Dont be scared ;)
Damn, I was gonna asked if you owned a peg leg. Just for special occasions.
Do me a favor: when you get really old, grow out an awesome grizzly beard and buy a peg leg, then work on your badass pirate limp.
I live with an art student who has been talking.for years about making novelty legs for me :p peg leg, robot leg etc
Do you like hammocks?
As only a teenager, how did you manage to acquire chemicals such as nitroglycerine and ammonium nitrate? Could you really just buy them online or from a chemicals warehouse with no questions asked?
I live in Holland where chemicals are harder to acquire than in america. It took alot of searching the web and purifying to get the chemicals.
Many times cashiers asked me what I intended to do with the products(such as 5 kg of drain cleaner) but if you've done your research you have an answer ready. Most of the products where legal anyway
Did you use different voices?
That was hilarious
I get that you can get most chemicals from commercial products, but where did you get toluene from?
Distilled out of sticker remover iirc
Really? I thought it wasn't allowed in commercial products any more. Either I'm wrong, or this was before the ban.
Alot of things that arent allowed are still available.
I bought 96% sulfuric acid as drain cleaner.
However, it was more than.5 years ago. I traded chemicals with fellow chemists, purified mixtures and did loads of internet searches. I don't recall where i got everything individually
If you got the drain cleaner for the NaOH then you can buy that pretty cheap on amazon. I use it for making hydrogen. About 12$ a pound.
Drain cleaner is 99% NaOH and costs less than a euro per pound
What was your reaction after the accident? How did your parents react?
My father had always been a very neutral yet supportive type on.the matter, and also after the accident remained this position. My mother was very worried and a tad angry at my dad for supporting me.
Your dad seems chill as fuck.
He is! :)
What sparked your interest in combining chemicals? Just want to make a big bang or an interest in chemistry?
It started as an interested in.bangs and fires, but grew more chemical over time. It is not hard to make a big bang, but i wanted to make as many different explosives as i could
Did this experience stop your experimenting or did you continue?
Parents did not let me anymore, and the cops took apart my lab.
So your parents knew you were making TNT? Is it too much to ask for parents like these
They probably knew he had a lab and did some stuff in there. I'd say they did not know he produced nitroglycerin.
They provided me with a lab when they found out i was synthesizing explosives outside without any safety measures... I was not a very precautious person
Ha, was that before or after she brought you shopping condoms?
Is that a thing mothers do? :p I stole my first condoms from my promiscuous father ;p
Was that before or after you lost your leg?
Both :p condoms are expensive man
Edit to actually answer your question, i lost my virginity before i lost my leg
For proof, I can look up an article but my name is mentioned. How do i go about this?
If you'd like to keep the information confidential, please use the message the moderators button to send us the information. We keep all information sent to us confidential.
Fuck it, i posted a link to the article.
Do you ever get an itch or pain where your leg used to be?
Used to be very painfull for the first 3 months. Took medication for that, now i almost never feel anything of it, maybe once every week i feel a "shock". Same goes for itches
FUCK phantom limb with a sandpapery stick. I have never felt something so maddening in my life.
It sucks yeah
It is right? You feel kinda helpless since you cant ich, apply pressure or do anything about it too!
Oh, google translate...."Together with two friends Good for a bang with the force of about twenty gun battles."
hahah, "kanonslagen" are actually a type of fireworks. They're on sale for the NY eve celebration around that time.
Nothing fancy though, think of it as a loud gun shot. (kanon = canon, Slag = is something like shot, so its a canon-shot sound making fireworks :P )
Upvote for the dutchmen!
Always good to see a fellow dutchman
What did it feel like to have your leg blown off?
It wasn't all that great
but did you learn your lesson?
Nope, still live fire, fireworks and other dangerous shit
What do you think of illegal fireworks?
So is it fair so say that boom went the dynamite?
Did you almost die? I imagine you would have lost a shit load of blood. who found you and how long were you in hospital etc?
Meh, i dont think so. I lost some blood but everybody including doctors kept assuring me that i would be fine (and believe me i asked)
Do people laugh at you irl when you tell your story?
Hahahaha no they are waaaay to awkward for that. They feel sorry. I laugh though
How did this impact your life the most, suddenly being a teenage amputee?
I like to think it didnt, i was no sport fanatic, passed my year that year, no trauma, no depression, loads of friends and regular relationships.
There are some.activities i cannot embark in, but they are limited(rock climbing and such)
This saddened me because I have two legs and have done very few two-legs-needed things lately. If you got your leg back, what's the first thing you'd do?
Thats a thinker... Probably make.a fitness schedule.including squats since i can't do those now and it's a serious impairment
If you want to use very heavy weights, you would need a special foot to handle the load, but it just takes some creativity. Do a Youtube search for BK amputee squat and you'll see some examples.
Thx for the tip man! I feel like I could.not go low enough but maybe i should just try. I do hpwever feel like if i do it wrong i'm.fucking up my back
You don't need to go to a low depth to have good form and not mess up your back.
Without a special prosthesis, there are four options:
Squat normally to whatever depth your balance and prosthesis will safely allow.
Squat from sitting - literally sitting.
Build a cushioned support bench to go under your amputated leg and squat from kneeling on that knee at a height that allows full extension of your good leg. This is actually very easy. You just have to be careful not to roll out on your knee. That can be prevented with moulded/cut hard foam as a support.
Wow thx alot for the info, I will definitely look into that. Mind if I keep you in mind for questions.later on?
I'm not sure if other's have asked, but how much of the leg is it?
If it is below the knee, I would imagine that rock climbing would still be quite viable, so long as you built up your arm strength. As far as I know, most rock climbers use their arms actually more than their legs (at least, for specific grips).
Very much this! =) One of the best rock climbers I have ever seen was an amputee. She had this really cool foot that was perfectly shaped for climbing.
Both of those comments were very inspiring! The allegory comes from the fact that one.of the times that i felt handicapped was when.choosing activities for a fay at school and.i wanted to rock climb but decided not to out of shame
I think you're pretty awesome. Loosing your leg to your own mistake isn't really that cool, but going on and becoming a pharamcist is. Cheers!
Well thanks you :)
Do the other chemists in your pharm program think its badass? I imagine a lot of them did their own experimenting as well
Some teachers do, the students don't really care. I have spoken.to many scientists who applaud my interests
how did it feel when the explosion shattered your bone on a 1-10 scale?
10 being ultimate pain? 7.5
haha fuck that, that would be a 10 on my scale, you are tougher than me :P
A ten for me was the chemical burn over my whole stomach. I poured concentrated sodium hydroxide over my stomach, took me 2 hours to get through the hospital... 10 square inch burn blister. I still hate working with that stuff
fuuuckk dude i hope i never have to experience a chemical burn in my life haha that sounds terrible
Im rooting for you :p they really suck
whats the thing you are most proud of in your chemistry endeavours?
TNT was very impressive.
the explosion or just the chemistry involved in creating it
Chemistry, its a step synthesis going.from toluene, to mononitrotoluene, to di- to tri-nitrotoluene
Dude when I was in school, I stole some NaOH flakes and put them in my lab coat. Within an hour they had absorbed moisture and metled down in my pocket. I felt some tingling on my body and realized what happened.
"OH ! SHIT !", Then I tore the lab coat and shit and threw them away ! Never again did I attempt chemistry without a haz suit !
( BTW, I also have an explosive past like u but i kept myself to KMno4 + Aluminium and Ammonium Nitrile + Gas. I was never brave ( in hindsight stupid ) enough to make Nitro ! )
Haha great story! Still, you made one.of the.more serious flash powders. Good on yoi!
Hey B. I don't really have any questions seeing as back in the day we were active on the same forums and a friend of yours described most of what happened in detail.
Just want to let you know that over the years I've told your story to many people who were thinking of picking up pyrotechnics or HEs. Now when I say 'people' I mean idiots (k3wls if you remember the term) and when I say 'told your story' I mean that it's been a bit of a way to scare people out of a hobby that's clearly not for them. This may sound blunt at first, but what I'm trying to say is that your accident might've at least prevented some others from suffering a similar faith.
Haha well i guess it's good to be a cautionary tale :p hell yeah I remember the term !
Shoulda ran. Other than that no
Where did you buy/find the chemicals to make such a explosive? And where did you learn to make it? The Anarchist Cookbook?
The anarchist cookbook is a very bad source. There are loads of forums with lots better info. I bought most of my stuff online, but it often.needed purificatio.
I was told I once got extremely close to losing an arm from doing similar stupid shit. My respect to you OP, and my admiration for what you were able to synthesize.
Personally, I had my fill and called it a day when we were a bit too careless with Acetone Peroxide.
You mean you hurt yourself with AP? In that case you were lucky. Imho that stuff is the absolute most dangerous explosive there is. Super easy to make, commercially available ingredients and waaaay to sensitive. I never made it, not interestinf enough to be worth the risk
Yep, powerfull stuff for sure. And about your stupid move, I get it. Thats why this stuff is so dangerous. One moment of absentmindedness can cost you your hand. With you it didn't, with me it did.
Still, nice to find someone who is interested
Yeah, must say, it pumped me up like nothing else. Crazy adrenalin rush. We did some other basic stuff that you'd expect out of chemistry naive teenagers who were self-teaching, but everytime it was a near rush of euphoria watching something you synthesized work.
Ironically, we made nearly equally as big explosions in chemistry class in highschool with jars full of hydrogen and magnesium.
Yeah, as far as the bang goes high explosives are not that impressive. Its really only force in which they beat other explosives
For the less experienced: high explosives are molecules that detonate without confinement
"Big" is the wrong word. 'Impressive fireballs' is what I'm trying to say. Though making Hyrogen-Oxygen rocket fuel was the best combination of both.
Ever synthesized any non-nitrogen/ammonia based compounds? How'd they turn out?
You realize you guys are probably going on a watchlist for these comments, right?
Im on so many watchlists... I dont do illegal things anymore so i dont really mind
Whats your definition of nin nitrogen based ? This device was my first ammonium nitrate based device. A list of the things i had made before that are: TNP, TNT, PETN mannitolnitrate, nitrocellulose, and i must be forgetting some. Then there are pyrotechnic mixtures.
I feel sorry for you. Did you ever think that you had a leg and tried to do stuff but then remembered it wasn't there? How bad was the pain and what happened after the accident? like your dad heard the noise called the ambulance, felt pain or not. Please answer
Two of those instances come to mind. Once i made a shot at pool and did not wear my prothesis. I jumped off the table in celebration and fell down.
Second time was when.i noticed an oddity on my foot and wanted to look at my other foot dor comparison. Didnt work out.
The pain was bad but not horrible, ive had large burns and.they hurt loads more. Ofcourse i was sedated after about 15 minutes.
After the accident my father ran(and fell) down the stairs to my lab. He yelled at my sister to call an ambulance. I remember thinking and asking if i was going to die. Directly after the explosion i ran for at least 5 meters, call it adrenalin. The police came first and asked a bunch of asshole questions:
Is there still fire? "no" Are there more explosives? "Not even.enough to blow up a doll house"
They did not go inside regardless, didnt helo or comfort me. Assholes. Then the military came and set off a perimeter. The whole neighbourhood was locked down(unnecesarily). Then the ambulance came. They were helpfull and.supportive. Sedated me, brought me to the hospital. There the questiom arose wether or not to keep the leg. The choice was this: lose the leg and walk within a year, or keep the leg and.always be.in pain and on.crutches. My parents chose to amputate and i think they made the right choice
I love how i have been telling this story to hundreds of people for years and they have never told me this, yet i go on the internet and all of a sudden everyone is blunt.
Think about it man, if i were standing in front of you, how fucking horrible would you feel for saying that? Not that it affects me but it is an awful thing to say.
The anonymity of Reddit gives people the license to say things they would not ever say in person. I bet 99% of the people calling you a dumb-ass in the thread would never have the guts to say that to you in person.
It is a double-edged sword. It is rude, and makes for less pleasant discourse. On the positive side, you learn more about what people actually think because they have the freedom to be totally honest. A lot of people who are supportive to you in person are probably silently thinking you were a dumbass.
FWIW, I think you are pretty bad-ass. The closest most of the people here have ever gotten to a real explosive is probably in Call of Duty.
Its worth something ;) thanks for the observation man!
Wow. I'm shocked no one has said this to your face. Not trying to be a huge jerk (maybe just a small jerk) but seriously. You made dynamite/explosives at age 15!? You were a dumbass. Fact.
Most people say its an achievement. But whatever man, I'm just here to answer questions not to.be called an.idiot
What kind of prosthetic do you use? Do you have different prosthetics for different activities, such as running? Is it a lot different than walking with your natural leg? How long did it take to learn how to walk with it? Do you have balance or back-pain issues at all?
Sorry to ask all those leg questions ... it's just that I've wondered what it would be like having my own lower leg removed and replaced with a prosthetic, but there aren't many people around who have actually gone through it to ask about what it's like. My normal leg is just messed up enough to be really frustrating to deal with, but I honestly don't know if it's frustrating enough that I'd actually want a prosthesis over my natural leg. It's something that I bounce back and forth in my head a lot.
Oh yeah, one more question: Pirates, ninjas, or robots?
No worries man, i had expected more leg questions tbh.
I will post a picture of the prothesis in a minute.
I only have one prothesis, there are running protheses but i quit running a while ago. I do alot of fitness but it does not require alternate gear
At this point( 5 years) it is not much different to me. I get tired faster, and i get blisters faster but if i would wear high heals i would also.have this.
Because my ankle was only damaged they could make a very clean amputation which made the rehabilitation proces very easy. 3 months after my accident i walked without crutches.
I think my balance is less than regular, but its not a problen in everyday life, and my back is fine so far. I try to keep it that way with fitness
To have your own leg removed seems like a hard decision, but if you are considering it it must be hard. Discuss with your doctor and if you have any questions feel free to PM me!
Would you recommend other kids (or adults) engage in similar activities (although perhaps with more caution)?
I would. Chemistry is extremely interesting, and science aswel. With the majority of hobbies being multimedia related i can see our youth getting stupider by the year. I would be glad to see more children experimenting, maybe with something safer like crystallographt though
Most of the info you needed to make that shit came from the internet... Kinda contradicting yourself there buddy.
I think the loss of your leg is a good example why you should leave this shit to chemists, and not 15 year old with a hobbyist chemistry set and an internet connect...
I mean sitting on your ass watching movies, playing videogames. If you have an interest, pursue it.
Have you ever tried to buy a pressure cooker on Amazon?
Iirc 50 mls in about 200 grams of ammonium nitrate, and the whole shabang blew up
I've read up on the Brashear process. That stuff can be set off by harsh thoughts.
You actually made me look it up, it was silver acetylide. Silver nitrate is not even explosive right?
Where'd you find your nitric acid? If you made it, what's the process you used? Thanks!
Ordered it from a website for artists. It was used for etsing out metal. I also made it when possible by adding potassium nitrate to sulphuric acid. However without destilating this mixture it is only useful for maki.g nitrocellulose
Were your parents mad?
Were you conscious after it happened? When did you first realise you were losing a leg or had lost your leg? What were your initial reactions?
I was pretty unaffected, at least seemingly. I didnt cry, didnt scream. Life goes on.
I did not lose consciousness
I too love nitro glycerin and ammonia nitrate combinations. The power and excitement of working with these complex chemical compositions have always exhilarated me since I was young.. I'm sorry this happened to you.
Thx for the compliment. That is exactly the way I feel! It is definitely a thrill.
However, most thrills come with risks
In the article you said:
I don't do anything without my father. He sees to it that i perform every step safely.
Why did he allow you making explosives? he surely must've known that explosives like nitroglycerin can pretty much blow your face off if you mess up.
Also, wouldn't it have been safer if you just let it burn out, instead of throwing it on the ground and stomping on it?
I did it before he allowed me, but i did it outside, or hastily when my parents were not home. He realised he couldnt stop.me.and gave me.a room, a fire extinguisher, a coat glasses and an.eyeshower etc.
As for your reasoning on my inappropriate reaction, yes, it was not the smartest move. However, if you see fire in.your explosiveslab, your instincts take over... At least mine did.
Years ago when you started this interest, did you realize how dangerous it was? Did you ever expect something to go wrong?
Realize yes, expect, no, otherwise i would not have engages in these activities
Have you ever made erythritol tetranitrate? A few years ago, I discovered you can detonate it by rapidly heating it in the presence of aluminum. I've detonated it by running electricity through a strip of thin aluminum foil that went through a clump of it, but usually by wrapping a small chunk of it in foil and lighting a flame under it. It's a lot safer than most other detonation methods I'm aware of. I think this is similar to the way tannerite works, but I didn't do enough experiments to be sure.
I only ever used chunks about the size of an aspirin, often to scare the geese away from the lake near where I lived. It was a lot louder than any fireworks you can buy, anyway.
I haven't, this sounds mighty interesting though!
I almost lost the use of my legs from doing something incredibly stupid, so i can relate. I got lucky though. How does it feel going day by day knowing that you couldn't catch a break?
I like to think it made me.who I am today, and I'm happy with that person. No regrets
Fkn Right. If it wasn't for the accident, I'd probably still be doing stupid things.
What a way to smarten up :D No regrets man.
Just to clarify, when i was 13 I decided it was ok to go mud bogging in the back of my step-father's truck. He though it was an ok idea as well. We hit a bump, I flew off the side and landed flat on my back, onto a rock. Doc's said that I was very lucky.
I only dislocated my spine from my hip, cracked three disks, shattered right elbow and ankle, punctured lung from broken rib, damaged kidneys, and severe concussion.
Wow, sorry if this beginning to sound like a pissing contest. Just wanted to say that you are a strong individual for coping, and that I can relate.
Almost relate :P
Good for you man ! And I'm always up for a pissing contest xD
What was the actual mechanism by which your leg was damaged? Shock? Heat / burning? Mechanical damage? I'm unclear on the most common injury mode from explosives
My ankle was shattered by the force of the shockwave. No burns. On my other leg I have a few bruises from small rocks flying
lol at the people calling this kid dumb. He's not dumb, it takes a lot of mental aptitude to do what this kid did. Of course it wasn't safe, but how many of you only did safe shit when you were kids? Probably only one or two of you.
However, it was a dumbass move to step on it, but oh well, not every day is someone's bright day.
Hope you get to live a relatively normal life and get to do everything a two legged person can, it sucks losing a leg.
Thx for the support! I lead a very nice life, i dont know about normal but thats not because of the leg ;)
Most of the people in this thread calling you idiots are idiots themselves. I'd like to see them create half the stuff that you did.
Also you're going to become a Pharmacist, apparently that means nothing.
Kudos to you, you intelligent man. Keep on synthesizing!
Thx for the compliment! I really intend to :)
Im sorry you lost your leg. I was fortunate enough to go through my experimenting without incident. Id love to share some storys sometime.
Insofar as you understand, is this method dangerous:
Tape a Picolo Pete and remove the stand. Then wrap with several layers of duct tape. Then hit the firework with a ball peen hammer lightly about 20 times. This turns it into an m80 style firework.
Is this super stupid?
Stuff like this got my first account banned from the pyrotechnics forum. It is not stupid, but why not just buy M80s? If you want tp fuck around with fireworks, make some flash powder and put it in a hull. Big bang guaranteed
Why were you experimenting with explosives? What caused the dynamite to explode?
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