PICRIC ACID Brought to you by: -= Exodus =-

Picric acid, also known as Tri-Nitro-Phenol, or T.N.P., is a military

explosive that is most often used as a booster charge to set off another less

sensitive explosive, such as T.N.T. It another explosive that is fairly

simple to make, assuming that one can acquire the concentrated sulfuric and

nitric acids. Its procedure for manufacture is given in many college

chemistry lab manuals, and is easy to follow. The main problem with picric

acid is its tendency to form dangerously sensitive and unstable picrate salts,

such as potassium picrate. For this reason, it is usually made into a safer

form, such as ammonium picrate, also called explosive D. A social deviant

would probably use a formula similar to the one presented here to make picric




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phenol (9.5 g) 500 ml flask


concentrated adjustable heat source

sulfuric acid (12.5 ml)

1000 ml beaker

concentrated nitric or other container

acid (38 ml) suitable for boiling in


distilled water filter paper

and funnel


glass stirring rod



1) Place 9.5 grams of phenol into the 500 ml flask, and carefully add 12.5 ml

of concentrated sulfuric acid and stir the mixture.


2) Put 400 ml of tap water into the 1000 ml beaker or boiling container and

bring the water to a gentle boil.


3) After warming the 500 ml flask under hot tap water, place it in the boiling

water, and continue to stir the mixture of phenol and acid for about thirty

minutes. After thirty minutes, take the flask out, and allow it to cool

for about five minutes.


4) Pour out the boiling water used above, and after allowing the container to

cool, use it to create an ice bath, similar to the one used in section

3.13, steps 3-4. Place the 500 ml flask with the mixed acid an phenol in

the ice bath. Add 38 ml of concentrated nitric acid in small amounts,

stirring the mixture constantly. A vigorous but "harmless" reaction should

occur. When the mixture stops reacting vigorously, take the flask out of

the ice bath.


5) Warm the ice bath container, if it is glass, and then begin boiling more

tap water. Place the flask containing the mixture in the boiling water,

and heat it in the boiling water for 1.5 to 2 hours.


6) Add 100 ml of cold distilled water to the solution, and chill it in an ice

bath until it is cold.


7) Filter out the yellowish-white picric acid crystals by pouring the solution

through the filter paper in the funnel. Collect the liquid and dispose of

it in a safe place, since it is corrosive.


8) Wash out the 500 ml flask with distilled water, and put the contents of the

filter paper in the flask. Add 300 ml of water, and shake vigorously.


9) Re-filter the crystals, and allow them to dry.


10) Store the crystals in a safe place in a glass container, since they will

react with metal containers to produce picrates that could explode