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Lead azide

Lead azide (Pb(N3)2) is an explosive and toxic crystalline compound.

It is highly sensitive and usually handled and stored under water in conductive rubber containers, it will explode after a fall of around 15cm or in the presence of a static discharge of 0.007 joules, its detonation velocity is around 5180 metres/sec. It is used as a detonator for other, secondary, explosives. The white crystals have a density of 4.71. In a commercially usable form it is a white-to-gray powder.

Lead azide reacts with copper, zinc, or other alloys to form other azides. For example, copper azide is even more explosive and too sensitive to be used commercially. Sodium azide is used both for the manufacture of lead azide and as preservative and diluent, which can lead to problems.

The lead salt is prepared by metathesis between sodium azide and lead nitrate. Dextrose can be added to the solution to stabilize the product.

See also: Lead styphnate

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