3 pounds of C4 vs. fire engine

3 Pounds of C-4 Blows Up Fire Truck


The guys over at the YouTube channel TAOFLEDERMAUS have been pulling off epic experiments since 2006, and for a video back in 2012, they wanted to know what would happen if a fire truck was packed with C-4 explosives. So, they got their hands on a retired fire truck and shoved three pounds of the stuff into the water tank. Turns out it explodes! Really well!

Check out just how much damage a mere three pounds of C-4 can do in the above video.

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Pretty wild, right? Now, as you probably imagine, there's a whole lot of science behind a C-4 explosion. Here's a brief look at the chemical reaction that takes place when a C-4 explosion is triggered, courtesy of How Stuff Works:

When the chemical reaction begins, the C-4 decomposes to release a variety of gases (notably, nitrogen and carbon oxides). The gases initially expand at about 26,400 feet per second (8,050 meters per second), applying a huge amount of force to everything in the surrounding area. At this expansion rate, it is totally impossible to outrun the explosion like they do in dozens of action movies. To the observer, the explosion is nearly instantaneous -- one second, everything's normal, and the next it's totally destroyed.

The explosion actually has two phases. The initial expansion inflicts most of the damage. It also creates a very low-pressure area around the explosion's origin -- the gases are moving outward so rapidly that they suck most of the gas out from the "middle" of the explosion. After the outward blast, gases rush back in to the partial vacuum, creating a second, less-destructive inward energy wave.

Of course, C-4 isn't something you should mess with unless you're a trained professional in a controlled environment. In other words: Don't try the above experiment at home. We're guessing you probably already assumed that, but you never know these days.

This post was originally published on October 15, 2015.

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