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What Is a Blasting Cap?

Blasting caps may be used in a building's demolition.
Blasting caps create small explosions that trigger larger, more powerful devices.
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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 17 June 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Blasting caps are highly sensitive devices that are utilized to detonate various types of explosive materials. A blasting cap works by creating a small explosion of its own that in turn triggers the explosion of the more powerful devices. It is not unusual for a cap to be used with a wide range of explosives, including dynamite, TNT, and even modern plastic explosives.

The use of blasting caps is found in many different applications, including the workplace. A blasting cap is often used in coal mines, excavation for building sites, and even the leveling of older buildings as part of a demolition project. An electric blasting cap is typically placed into position along with the more powerful explosive. In order to trigger the cap explosion, an electrical current is carried to the cap via a long wire. This makes it possible to trigger the explosion of the cap, which in turn triggers the explosion of the dynamite or other explosive used in the project.

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A non-electric blasting cap works in much the same way. The difference is that the long wire attached to the cap does not use electrical current to trigger the explosion. Instead, the wire is made with flammable materials, forming a fuse. A match is used to light the remote end of the fuse, allowing the flame to eventually reach the cap and ignite the device. At that point, the cap explosion is triggered, followed by the detonation of the larger explosive that is attached to the cap.

Shock may also be used to trigger the detonation of some types of caps. With this type of blasting cap, any pressure exerted on the surface of the cap will cause the device to explode. This in turn triggers an explosion of the more powerful device connected to the cap. While useful in some situations, this particular type of cap is rarely used in excavation or mining operations, since the use of some type of wire or fuse to trigger the detonation is considered safer.

In addition to uses in commercial settings, a blasting cap is also utilized in some military operations. The ability to trigger the explosions remotely is often helpful when creating some type of protection barrier in wartime, effectively making it difficult for an enemy to approach an encampment of military personnel from a given direction. In wartime, explosives equipped with blasting caps are used to destroy bridges and roads or otherwise alter the landscape so enemies are unable to move forward or backward with a great deal of efficiency.

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