Lead Azide

Primary Explosive

What It Is

Lead azide (LA) is a white primary explosive composed of lead and nitrogen. Three common varieties of LA are produced based on different additives: dextrin (DLA), polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) and CMC (RD-1333). Manufacture with these additives optimizes the crystal shape so that the LA will flow through automatic loading equipment. The additives also serve to reduce the sensitivity of t he lead azide.

Lead azide

Key Features

Why We Like Them

LA is a very versatile energetic material. We typically purchase inexpensive LA from an outside source but will manufacture high sensitivity LA for unusual applications. At PacSci EMC it is used as an initiating agent, as a transfer charge and in stab primer applications. Some of the explosives we use it with include:

► CH-6

What makes it such an effective primary explosive is that it detonates quickly, is thermally stable and has a long shelf life in hermetic applications.


How You Should Handle Them
LA is an incredibly sensitive explosive. It is one of the most sensitive materials we use at PacSci EMC. To give you an idea of exactly how hazardous it can be, its sensitivity levels for friction, impact and ESD are:
► Friction: ≤ 10 grams
► Impact: ≤ 30 centimeters
► Static: ≤ 7 megajoules
Despite having enhanced sensitivity, LA is widely used at PacSci EMC and many other ordnance manufacturers every day without issue.
You’ll want to use the standard PPE procedure when working with this material: smock, safety goggles and conductive shoes. All
work should take place behind a shielded workstation. You should use additional PPE when you’re dealing with a large quantity
of LA.
Lead azide isn’t sensitive to light, heat or moisture. Therefore, storage rules are straightforward: Keep in a puck in low-humidity environments.

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