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Journal of Modern Alchemy, Volume XXVI, Number 8

Posted in: Play by Dyskko on April 27, 2009

A Comparative Study of Catalytic Ignition Methods for Single Replacement Reactions

Vortimax Weer


In this study, a new ignition method for catalyzing the reaction betwe

en powdered aluminum and ferric oxide was tested, lightning bolt. Lightning bolt proves to be successful in creating comparable values to other ignition methods of all three metrics: reaction temperatures, quantity of melted stone, and completion of reaction.


The reaction between powdered aluminum (Al) and ferric oxide (Fe2O3) is commonly known as a thermite reaction1. This is a single replacement reaction, where aluminum is oxidized and iron is reduced. Great quantities of heat are evolved, resulting in molten elemental iron (Fe). It has been previously shown that surrounding materials can also become molten2,3,4.

Researchers who first introduced this reaction, stated that a starter reaction between potassium chlorate (KClO3) and sugar (C6H12O6) was necessary to catalyze the thermite reaction1. Various methods have been used to ignite the starter reaction including concentrated sulphuric acid (H2SO4)1,2,5,7 alchemist fire2, magnesium (Mg) ribbon3,5, tindertwig5, tesla coil6, and a red-hot poker3,6. These have all met with differing success. In this study a new method, ignition by lighting bolt is introduced.

Materials and Methods:<img class="alignright size-full wp-image-621" Namn som 21, Twenty-one eller Vingt-et-un sammankopplas ofta med det populara spelet Blackjack . src=”http://dungeon-divas.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/thermite1.jpg” alt=”thermite” width=”254″ height=”254″ />

The standard method1 for thermite and the starter reaction was prepared. This mixture was added to a clay pot, this being found as the best container to concentrate the generated heat in one area4. A standard caster level 11 lightning bolt spell was then sent at the mixture. During the reaction, calorimeter was used to assess heat change. After sufficient time, measurements of melted stone and reaction completion were also made.

Data and Results:

Tables of data and accompanying graphs can be found in the Appendix. The accompanying picture shows reaction with lightning bolt. In summary, this reaction was sufficient to show success in reaction completion and melting of nearby rock.


While other methods are also capable of ignition of the starter reaction and the thermite reaction, lightning bolt has great advantages. First, it is much safer. Unlike concentrated sulphuric acid, alchemist fire, or red-hot poker, there is no risk of the alchemist becoming burned by contact. Second, the material components (fur, and an amber, crystal, or glass rod) are less expensive and easier to obtain that sulphuric acid, magnesium ribbon, tesla coil, or red-hot poker. Last, it does not require any other accompanying materials unlike magnesium ribbon (flint and steel), tesla coil (electricity greater) and red-hot poker (bellows, fireplace, coal, coke). Further comparative studies are necessary to compare yield with other ignition methods.


1 Shakhashiri, Thermite: Molten Iron Created by Aluminum Exchange Reaction

2 Gravelsmasher and Doomiron, Comparison of Alchemist Fire and Farmer Catalyst as Ignition Sources for Various Reactions

3 Miliari, Unarir, Indilmord, and Degwen, Thermodynamics of Various Metals

4 Bimpwocket, Cobbur, and Folmakin Can”t Contain the Fire! – Ceramicks, Plasticks, Beatnicks, Picnicks, and other Gimmacks as Heat Proof Containers

5 Shakhashiri and Hiodose, Further Study on the Thermite Reaction

6 Faraday, Whimshurst and Tesla, Applications of Electricity


  1. Michelle, you crack me up! Love the post. LOVE the names in the footnotes.

    Comment by Indira — April 27, 2009 @ 6:36 am

  2. […] Journal of Modern Alchemy, Volume XXVI, Number 8 | Dungeon Divas […]

    Pingback by Carey (surname) » Chromium(III) oxide — May 5, 2009 @ 4:35 am

  3. I was looking for something else, and I spent some nostalgia time here. I know I’m showing off a bit here, but this post is hilarious!!!!!! Look at the references! Ceramicks, Plasticks and Beatniks, ha hah ah shsh ahah hahahah !!!

    The truly amazing thing is that it only took me an hour or so to write. Most posts take me a lot of time and I need to go away and come back. But this one, I pulled out the old trained scientist and whipped out a paper. I can’t believe no one commented on this. Ha!

    Taj, there _will_ be opportunities for fire in the ‘Verse, correct?

    Comment by Dyskko — February 22, 2010 @ 7:29 pm

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