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Systematic name 1-methyl-2,4,6-trinitrobenzene
Other names 2,4,6-Trinitrotoluene,

TNT, Trilite, Tolite, Trinol,
Trotyl, Tritolo, Tritolol, Triton,,
Tritone, Trotol, Trinitrotoluol, 2,4,6-

Molecular formula C7H5N3O6
[N+](=O)[O-] =]
Molar mass 227.13 g/mol227.13 amu
Appearance Pale yellow. Loose
"needles" before melt-casting.
A solid block after
being poured into a casing.
CAS number 118-96-7
Density and phase 1.654 g/cm3, solid
Solubility in water 0.13 g/L (20 °C)
Melting point 80.35 °C353.5 K
176.63 °F
636.3 °R
Boiling point 295 °C568.15 K
563 °F
1,022.67 °R
Molecular shape Five positional isomers and three
thermal decomposition products
Crystal structure No evidence of polymorphism
Dipole moment  ? D
MSDS Material safety data sheet
Main hazards Explosive, detention can cause
injury, highly toxic, corrosive
NFPA 704

NFPA 704 svg.png

Flash point Not applicable
R/S statement R:R2, R23/24/25, R33, R51/53
S: (S1/2), S35, S45, S61
RTECS number XU0175000
Except where noted otherwise, data are given for
materials in their standard state (at 25 °C, 100 kPa)
Disclaimer and references

Trinitrotoluene (also known as TNT) is best known as a high explosive, but, unlike nitroglycerin, it is unaffected by ordinary shocks and jarring, and must be set off by a detonator. Because it does not react with metals, it can be used in filling metal shells. It is often mixed with other explosives such as ammonium nitrate to form amatol.



TNT explodes for two reasons. When the elements carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen combine, the material produced burns and it produces a highly stable substance with extremely strong bonds, therefore, releasing an enormous amount of energy. As you may already know, this is usually what happens with explosives; they always are made up of nitrogen or oxygen-containing groups, with 2, 3, or more nitro-groups, that are attached to a small and constricted, organic backbone. Although TNT is an explosive, it actually has less energy than gasoline, however, at the high velocity that it reaches, all that energy is released and that is what produces that big bang. This dangerous and extremely high speed reaction is called a detonation. TNT's detonation velocity is 6,940 m/s, unlike the detonation of pentane in the air which is 1,680 m/s.0.34 m/s is the stoichiometric flame speed of gasoline combustion in air. [1]


TNT is manufactured and doesn't occur naturally from the earth. It is made from toluene which is a hydrocarbon, also known as methylbenzene. The toluene is then mixed with sulfuric acid and nitric acid, which creates a compound known as mononitrotoluene. After that, nitric and sulfuric acid are then added to the mononitrotoluene, and the temperature gets raised very slowly in order to make dinitrotoluene. Once the compound oleum and nitric acid is added, this acid creates trinitrotoluene, or TNT. At this point, the compound it completely unstable and dangerous. In order to make it stable, manufacturers then add sodium sulfate, an alkaline solution, to stable the TNT. After all of this, the result is a soft, yellow compound which is commonly packaged in traditional red paper or it can also be compressed into metallic explosive containers. Since TNT can withstand shock and still not detonate, it suits for an easy, useful explosive in the mining and construction businesses. It has quite a low melting point, which makes it easy to pour it into different forms or to combine it with other explosives. Also, TNT can not be absorbed in water. [2]


The most wide and common use for TNT is its explosive capabilities. Up until nuclear energy was discovered in the 1940's, TNT was by far the most powerful explosive that ever had been made or discovered. Many times, TNT is combines with other explosives to make even more powerful bombs. Here are some examples: Torpex is a mixture of TNT, wax, and aluminum. It is used for underwater explosives, like the kind submarines use. Torpex is about 50 percent more powerful that TNT. Pentolite is a combination of TNT and pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN), which is mostly used in blasting caps and detonators. Military dynamite is less powerful than pure dynamite, but much safer to use. It consist of the explosive RDX, TNT, motor oil, and cornstarch. Amatol is usually substituted for TNT in weapons and is a combination of TNT and ammonium nitrate. Minol is a lot like amatol, only it has 20 percent more aluminum in it so that its explosive power is greater. The last one, Baratol, is a mixture of TNT and barium nitrate. This explodes more slowly that TNT, which gives more running away time. Also, other than its usual use as an explosive, or creating another explosive, it can be used to produce an intense yellow tint in the manufacture of dyes and photo chemicals. [3]


On some military testing ground that have trinitrotoluene, TNT, spread throughout the area, the wastewater from munitions programs can be colored pink, as a result from the TNT contamination. This type of contamination is often referred to as pinkwater and can be very difficult to get rid of.

TNT is very toxic to the human body. It is absorbed through the skin and if abundantly exposed, it will cause irritation and bright yellow staining of the skin. Throughout the first World War, munition workers that handled the trinitrotoluene, quickly discovered that their skin was turning yellow fast. This characteristic of the "TNT handlers" became known as the "canary girls" or just "canaries". TNT also soon made ginger hair turn green. In 1916, the British Government made some observations about the female workers at the Royal Arsenal. They found that 37 percent got intense pain because of their loss of appetite, nausea, and constipation. twenty five percent ended up with dermatitis and 34 percent noticed changes in their menstruation. After a long time of being exposed to TNT, some people experienced anemia and abnormal liver functions. The same results that happen in humans, harmful effects on the immune system, have been discovered in animals that eat or breath trinitrotoluene. Apparently, tests show that TNT adversely affects male fertility, and it is listed as a possible human carcinogen. If someone were to eat TNT, one of the results would be black urine. After about one-hundred workers died from the TNT induced disease, someone thought of using respirators and protective grease that covered their skin with, which prevented any fatal diseases [4].


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