Why does fertilizer sometimes explode?

Credit: American Chemical Society.

Over the last century, the compound ammonium nitrate has been involved in at least 30 disasters and terrorist attacks.

Ammonium nitrate is used in things like fertilizer.

Under normal circumstances, it is totally harmless.

So, what makes ammonium nitrate turn deadly?

Reactions is a video series produced by the American Chemical Society and PBS Digital Studios.


The American Chemical Society (ACS) is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress.

ACS’ mission is to advance the broader chemistry enterprise and its practitioners for the benefit of Earth and its people.

ACS’ main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.