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Blasting explosive, patented in 1867 by Alfred P. Nobel. Dynamite is based on nitroglycerin but is much safer to handle than nitroglycerin alone. By mixing the nitroglycerin with kieselguhr, a porous silica-containing earth, in proportions that left an essentially dry and granular material, Nobel produced a solid that was resistant to shock but readily explodable by heat or sudden impact. Later, wood pulp was substituted as the absorbent, and sodium nitrate was added as an oxidizing agent to increase the strength of the explosive.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on dynamite, visit Britannica.com.