Peaceful uses of explosives

In response to my recent post, everyone focused on combat uses of explosives. While that is an important use, it is relatively uncommon. Just as firearms are used for recreation, hunting and other non-defensive uses far, far more often than for self-defense or war, so are explosives are more often used for construction, field clearing and other peaceful purposes. Yey, just as it may be hard for a gunless people to imagine a peaceful gun culture, it is hard for us — long denied access to most explosives and means of controlling them — to imagine their positive uses.

Those uses are all around me as I drive on most Tennessee roads: the vertical hashes in the rock faces on both sides of many roadways are where gelignite or something similar was placed into pre-drilled holes and exploded to remove obstructions to travel. ANFO is still popular for removing tree stumps and boulders from fields. Detcord is used for falling trees quickly and safely by those who have access to it.

Explosives of various kinds are heat engines. They convert rapid exothermic reactions into kinetic or brisant action. Safe ways of working with them have been worked out ages ago, and yet we have multiple generations of people world-wide who have no access to these useful tool and often no idea of their utility. Because all these would-be common peaceful uses are denied, explosives get the stigma of the association with terrorism and war, same as guns do in disarmed societies. With good people denied these tools, only bad actors get the publicity and the problem becomes self-reinforcing.

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8 Responses to Peaceful uses of explosives

  1. Joe S. says:

    As to peaceful uses of explosives in excavation, demolition, construction and farming which you’ve already mentioned are but a few. Pyrotechnics’ for lighting, fireworks displays, welding, sound resonation (to determine depth/distance) signaling, rocketry. I’ve also seen explosives used to straighten or shape metal and create engraved surfaces. All in all explosives are a commonly used item in a lot of non-military/Non-LE applications. They are also sometimes used by fire service and rescue personnel.

  2. Stepinit says:

    When I was about 14 to 17 years old I worked at my Uncles farm during the summer, He had a box of TNT for getting rid of stumps, it was a lot easier to get that back in the 1950’s
    Sincerely Stepinit.

  3. Ritchie says:

    Also of note are the squiggly lines on jet aircraft canopies which may be noted on some net videos. These lines are detonating cord which, as part of the pilot ejection sequence, are used to shatter the canopy an instant before the pilot’s head goes through it.

  4. Ray says:

    Oleg, all of those rock cuts you see in Tenn. and Ky. were done with ANFO, as were all the strip mines.

  5. Ben C says:

    It is not uncommon to talk to older farmers who blasted many tree stumps, boulders, and beaver dams back before various government toadies got paranoid and worked hard to stamp out a useful tool.

  6. Lyle says:

    Good point, Oleg. And it wasn’t long ago…I remember many of the farmers around where I grew up had dynamite or TNT, blasting caps and fuse. It was quite common.

    It is long past time to dismantle the nanny state.

  7. staghounds says:

    Um, people focussed on that because that’s what you referred to in the post- “explosives and various tools containing them (grenades, mines, detcord, satchel charges, RPGs) “.

    I think that the number of people who need to use (nonmilitarily) explosives often enough to make it worth while to get competent in their use, yet who can’t get them, is awfully small.

    Since the price of error and the risk to other people in explosives use are so high, I’m not heartbroken that my neighbor can’t dash down to Home Depot and buy a case of Semtex to learn about blowing up tree stumps.

  8. og says:

    A classic case of not knowing what you’re doing.

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