A charge of compressed wet guncotton may be exploded, even under water, by the detonation of a small primer of the dry and waterproofed material, which in turn can be started by a small fulminate detonator.
The explosive wave from the dry guncotton primer is in fact better responded to by the wet compressed material than the dry, and its detonation is somewhat sharper than that of the dry.
The first attempts to utilize the explosive power of nitroglycerin were made by Nobel in 1863; they were only partially successful until the plan, first applied by General Pictot in 1854, of developing the force of gunpowder in the most rapid manner and to the maximum extent, through initiative detonation, was applied by Nobel to nitroglycerin.
These results showed clearly that liquefied acetylene was far too dangerous for general introduction for domestic purposes, since, although the occasions would be rare in which the requisite temperature to bring about detonation would be reached, still, if this point were attained, the results would be of a most disastrous character.
Such endothermic bodies are nearly always found to show considerable violence in their decomposition, as the heat of formation stored up within them is then liberated as sensible heat, and it is undoubtedly this property of acetylene gas which leads to its easy detonation by either heat or a shock from an explosion of fulminating mercury when in contact with it under pressure.