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Home » How to Make Homemade “Tannerite” | DIY Cold Pack Exploding Target

How to Make Homemade “Tannerite” | DIY Cold Pack Exploding Target

How to Make Homemade Tannerite

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I get a lot of emails about this process.  It is currently my most popular article.  Almost all of the questions are addressed in the how to make tannerite article below.

If you have a question not answered below I don’t mind if you contact me.

After all, sharing information to self-reliant people is why I have this site in the first place.

However, please read the instructions first.  Don’t be afraid to GTFG…

The Most Common Questions About Homemade Tannerite:

  • Urea Nitrate and Urea Sulfate WILL NOT WORK .  Don’t ask if it will.  The process only works with Ammonium Nitrate.
  • The finer the aluminum the better the reaction.  I use 30 micro sized aluminum powder and it works great.
  • For every pound of Ammonium Nitrate use 2 tablespoons of Aluminum powder (the true molecular formula is listed below)

Is this legal?  It depends:

I do not know your local, county, or state laws so I am not telling you this is legal.  At the time of this writing, it is not illegal Federally as long as you NEVER store this after mixed.  Also you can not use it commercially or attempt to set it off with blasting caps or other devices.  Additionally, you can only use it for range related activities.  Please utilize common sense when using any explosive.

If you mix up 50 pounds of this stuff and put it on a large propane tank the fireball will break windows.  You will be held liable.

In my experience, if you keep it small, and shoot it at a range you will probably be okay.

Please do not take my word for the legal status. I am not a lawyer.  Additionally, I don’t assume any liability for things you do.

Please look up the BATFE’s interpretation of the law in their free “orange book”.  Alternatively go to the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearm and Explosives website to see exactly what the Feds say about binary explosives (including exploding targets).

As of Sept 1, 2018, the BATFE says:

Mixing binary components together constitutes manufacturing explosives. Persons manufacturing explosives for their own personal, non-business use only (e.g., personal target practice) are not required to have a Federal explosives license or permit. However, individuals or companies must obtain a Federal explosives manufacturing license if they intend to engage in the business of manufacturing explosives for sale or distribution, or for their own business use. Such business uses include manufacturing for use in commercial blasting applications, removing obstacles such as trees or rocks during construction, theatrical special effects, and for demonstration or product testing purposes.

Therefore, licensed manufacturers and dealers of pre-mixed binary explosives kits, such as those used to make exploding targets, including those who combine the components to make videos or photos for use in marketing, or to test the product, are subject to Federal record keeping requirements and must maintain records of manufacture or acquisition, distribution, exportation, use, inventory and daily summaries of magazine transactions found in 27 CFR, Part 555, Subpart G Records and Reports.

That being said, what we made here is not “tannerite”.  Tannerite is a trademarked name.  Commercial Tannerite contains a couple additional ingredients in addition to Ammonium Nitrate and Aluminum powder (Ammonal).

This homemade exploding rifle target gives you similar results and is cheaper because it just uses the two main ingredients of original Tannerite.

Homemade Tannerite is simply 100 grams Ammonium Nitrate mixed with 5 grams Aluminum Powder.

For those interested in knowing exactly how to make tannerite, here is the formula:

X * 0.05 = Y
X = Weight of AN
Y = Weight of AL to mix with that amount of AN

50 pounds of AN = 22,679.6185 grams, so using the above formula:
22679.6185 * 0.05 = 1,133.980925
1133.980925 grams = 2.5 pounds of AL

So for every 50lb of AN you purchase you will need around 2.5lb of AL. 

Ammonia Nitrate Available on Amazon
Ammonium Nitrate Available on Amazon

At current prices, getting it all at Amazon will cost you about $100 per 50 pounds of binary target mix.

Or if you want to spitball, for every pound of Ammonium Nitrate, use 2 tablespoons of Aluminum powder.

I used instant cold packs in this video, as buying Ammonium Nitrate in bulk is near impossible for the general public after Oklahoma City. (it is often available at Amazon, but they keep changing the availability).  The picture to your right should take you to some in it is available on Amazon.

If going the route of buying cold packs, make sure the package ingredients lists Ammonium Nitrate.

Urea nitrate WILL NOT WORK.

Once You are at The Range It is Easy to Make Tannerite Mix

  • Carefully slice open the cold pack without rupturing the water package inside.
  • Add 2 spoonfuls of powdered aluminum.
  • Mix thoroughly.
  • Seal.

I like wrapping everything tightly in colored duct tape. The tight wrappings keep the mix from leaking if hit with a glancing shot.  The bright color helps me see what I am aiming at.

This is very simple, and when used with common sense it is relatively safe.

There are some practical uses of this mixture. It is especially useful for long range shooting, as there is no doubt of your hits.  Beyond the practical uses, it is a lot of fun.  Just make sure you research your local laws, and use an uncommon amount of common sense.

Homemade Tannerite Safety:

Use common sense!  People have been killed using this stuff wrong.  Shooters have also been held liable for the damage their targets have done.  Remember, anytime you can “see” and explosion, it can “see” you.  Watch the video below for proof of that.

  • Never try to blow up something that could create dangerous shrapnel.  Don’t stick this in lawn mowers, washing machines, glass, cars, or anything else that will cause fragments to break off.  A man recently had his leg amputated from lawn mower shrapnel when shooting tannerite stuffed in a mower.  Its best to just shoot the target itself or stick it in watermelons, Easter eggs full of chalk, and plain old piles of dirt.
  • A good general rule of thumb for explosive targets is to place any target ¼ pound and up at least a 100 yards away.
  • Any targets larger than a pound needs to be set at least 200 yards away.
  • You should really never go over two pounds per target.  You can get in legal trouble federally if you go more than 50 pounds.
  • Never use these targets in an area with a high fire danger level.  They can and have started brush fires.
  • You should already be wearing ear and eye protection, with the shrapnel risk it is even more important.

Its not a bomb making kit!  Ammonal is not ANFO:

The Ammonium Nitrate and Fuel oil mix the terrorist McVeigh used at Oklahoma city is abbreviated ANFO.

I have a training video showing the difference between the two below.  The video is from the government.  I has additional narration by TAOFLEDERMAUS.  I have been to courses on this subject taught by Homeland Security and they do have a pretty dim view of tannerite.  Their aggressive anti-tannerite stance is unfair and ignorant, but it is present.



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