Improvised Battery (2 Hour Duration)

Section VII

No. 13

This battery should be used within 2 hours and should be securely wrapped. Three cells will detonate one blasting cap or one igniter. Five cells, connected in series, will detonate two of these devices and so on. Larger cells have a longer life and will yield more power.

If depolarizing materials such as potassium permanganate or manganese dioxide cannot be obtained, ten cells without depolarizer, arranged as described below, (Step 4) will detonate one blasting cap.


  • Water
  • Ammonium chloride (sal ammoniac)  (solid or concentrated solution)
  • Charcoal powder
  • Copper or brass plate about 4 in. (10 cm) square and 1/16 in. (2 mm) thick
  • Aluminum plate same size as copper or brass plate
  • Wax and paper (or waxed paper)
  • Wire, string or tape
  • Container for mixing
  • Knife

One of the following:

  • Potassium permanganate, solid
  • Manganese dioxide


  • Medicines
  • Soldering fluxes
  • Fertilizers
  • Ice melting chemicals for roads
  • Candles
  • Disinfectants
  • Deodorants
  • Dead dry batteries

NOTE: If ammonium chloride solution la not concentrated (at least 45% by weight) boil off some of the water.


1. Mix thoroughly (do not grind) approximately equal volumes of powdered charcoal, ammonium chloride and one of the following: potassium permanganate or manganese dioxide. Add water until a very thick paste is formed. If ammonium chloride is in solution form, it may not be necessary to add water.

2. Spread a layer of this mixture, about 1/8 in. (3 mm) thick, on a clean copper or brass plate. The layer must be thick enough to prevent a second plate from touching the copper plate when it is pressed on top.

38 15 Improvised Battery (2 Hour Duration)

3. Press an aluminum plate very firmly upon the mixture on the copper plate. Remove completely any of the mixture that squeezes out between the plates. The plates must not touch.

38 21 Improvised Battery (2 Hour Duration)

4. If more than one cell is desired:

a. Place one cell on top of the other so that unlike metal plates are touching

38 31 Improvised Battery (2 Hour Duration)

b. Wrap the combined cells in heavy waxed paper. The waxed paper can be made by rubbing candle wax over one side of a piece of paper. Secure the paper around the battery with string, wire or tape. Expose the top and bottom metal plates at one corner.

38 41 Improvised Battery (2 Hour Duration)


1. Scrape a few inches off each end of two wires with knife till metal is shiny.

2. Clean plates with knife until metal is shiny where connections are to be made.

3. Connect one wire from the explosive to a copper or brass plate and the other wire to an aluminum plate. The connection can be made by holding the wire against the plate. A permanent connection can be made by hooking the wire through holes in the exposed corners of the plates. The battery is now ready for use.

NOTE: If battery begins to fail after a few firings, scrape the plates and wires where connections are made until metal is shiny.

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