Nitroglycerin is a powerful explosive, which was first synthesized by Ascanio Sobrero in 1847. This oily liquid is so unstable that even the slightest strike or shake can cause it to blow up! The decomposition reaction consists of instantaneous destruction of whole molecules of sample into huge amounts of hot gases (N2, CO2, H2O and O2), which lead to a violent blast.
The instability of nitroglycerin made its manufacture and transportation so dangerous. Since several factory workers lost their lives in explosions, pure liquid nitroglycerin was widely banned. For several years Alfred Nobel had been experimenting different additives with nitroglycerin to make it safer to handle.
He mixed nitroglycerin with diatomaceous earth and patented his invention under the name of dynamite in 1867. Afterward, dynamite was used in several industries, such as mining, quarrying and rail road tunnels. During World War One and World War Two, nitroglycerin was also extensively used as a high explosive.