Encyclopedia Article


A nitroglycerin-based explosive material often used for construction, mining, and demolition. Dynamite was patented in 1867 by Alfred Nobel, a Swedish chemist, and ironically, the inceptor of the Nobel Peace Prize. The name “dynamite” comes from the Ancient Greek work for “power”, δύναμις (dýnamis). Dynamite is composed of earthy materials, such as sawdust, soaked in nitroglycerin, which when exposed to heat can cause a detonation. If left in storage for too long, nitroglycerin can seep from the sawdust into surrounding materials and make the dynamite unstable, thereby causing unexpected explosions. Today, dynamite is wrapped in plastic or a wax-coating to eliminate this risk.

Photo Credit: 

"Two men examining a kit of dynamite and wire found during sabotage incidents of Owens Valley Aqueduct, Southern California, circa 1924" by the Los Angeles Times

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