Dynamite was invented by Alfred Nobel in 1867 as a stable mining explosive. It is made of three main things: Nitroglycerin; sand, sawdust or other absorbent materials to make the Nitro stable; and a fuse to trigger the explosive. Initially, hand-lit pyrotechnic fuses were commonly used, however, by the start of the 20th-century electrical detonators, connected by a long wire which could be triggered from a safe distance became more common.

The explosive quickly became popular with the mining industry in the latter half of the 19th century, where it proved far more stable than nitroglycerine, which could potentially explode at even relatively minor disturbances, such as being dropped. While Nobel was a pacifist and intended the explosive to only be used to make mining safer, dynamite quickly started being used as a weapon. For instance, during the First World War, dynamite was commonly used in mining operations, in which sappers dug tunnels under enemy positions and placed large charges on them. Before the wide adoption purpose-built hand grenades, dynamite, often attacked to board or stored in a metal canister, was used to make improvised grenades.

While dynamite was quickly replaced in military use by more powerful explosives such as Trinitrotoluene (TNT) and later plastic explosives such as C-4, dynamite is still used for civilian mining, quarrying, and demolition purposes, as well as less-well known purposes such as blasting out oil fires and is even used for fishing in some third world countries (though this is highly destructive and often illegal). Dynamite is also sometimes used by terrorist and criminals in improvised explosive devices such as pipe bombs as it is easier to get a hold of than military grade explosives.

While they are sometimes believed to be similar or identical in composition, TNT is actually a very different explosive from dynamite, with distinct chemical structure and explosive properties.


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