Interesting To Kids Subjects: Grain and Sugar Explosions

I decided to avoid talking about Elizabeth Warren’s “shot across” grocers and Goetz shooting subway muggers, but wanted to make note of something interesting:

From onthisday.com; December 22, 1977 “36 die as grain elevator at Continental Grain Company plant explodes”.

This may not mean much to the uninitiated but grain is not usually what people think of a explosive or flammable substance. Putting corn or grain in your hand doesn’t elicit the feeling of a killer of men, outside of dietary decisions. But when I worked in the petrochem world, it opened my eyes.

In my country, there has been a history of grain elevator (or processor) explosions. I had never knew that the dust was the culprit. It never made sense until I went through some training. Further more, it was wild when I got to watch a video about the Imperial Sugar refinery fire/explosion. I had never knew that was possible as a child.

(will supply links below for the CSB write up and YT video).

I had mentioned to a younger family member that it was possible to make a “fire” with sugar. I had seen someone use a blow dryer to shoot a flame with a certain type of flour. I decided to try my hand at doing it with sugar.

I had put powdered sugar in a large amount in my mouth and forced it out cloud form over a cigarette lighter. I failed the first two times due to humidity and getting most of it wet. The third time was a charm. From the safety of my yard and in the dark, I threw a small cloud of flame. The family member was impressed and I didn’t have to destroy a hair dryer.

I had known someone that talked about getting an industrial blower and “powdered” aluminum to recreate a steel mill explosion in miniature. (Most mills have air filters and scrubbers to prevent this. That someone used to clean the scrubbers and filters, collecting the powder for backyard tomfoolery).

I’m not encouraging you to do this kind of thing but I did want you to know that your food could kill in more ways than one.

https://www.csb.gov/imperial-sugar-company-dust-explosion-and-fire/

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7 Responses to Interesting To Kids Subjects: Grain and Sugar Explosions

  1. audremyers says:

    Fascinating article. Who knew???

    Like

  2. Gunner Q says:

    “I had put powdered sugar in a large amount in my mouth and forced it out cloud form over a cigarette lighter. I failed the first two times due to humidity and getting most of it wet.”

    Might have been a concentration issue instead. This happens with natural gas. If there’s not enough OR IF THERE’S TOO MUCH in the air then you’re safe. There’s a narrow window of opportunity for combustion.

    This is footage from a Forestville, Maryland strip mall. A big gas leak was discovered. Firefighters safely evacuated the place and stopped the leak, no kaboom. But they missed an ignition source and their walking in and out the front door brought in enough fresh air to reduce the natural gas content into the danger zone. Kaboom despite the leak being plugged.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ah yes. I saw one of those grain explosion videos that went viral. Now I know to run instead of trying to film it.

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    • I had mentioned that the best thing people can do for a first responder is to not panic and point where they need to go.

      The second best thing is to get the hell out of the way and let them do their jobs.

      Like

  4. Pingback: Interesting To Kids Subjects: Grain and Sugar Explosions — Mogadishu Matt | Vermont Folk Troth

  5. Pingback: Year Ending Nasty FreeMatt In Review | Mogadishu Matt

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