Astrolite G, the most common type of Astrolite, is a mixture of ammonium nitrate and hydrazine at a ratio of 2:1, measured in weight. It has a detonation velocity of approximately 8,600 m/s. It has been widely (and incorrectly) referred to as the "world's most powerful non-nuclear explosive", a misconception caused largely by hype among the uninitiated, who cite its high detonation velocity in comparison to nitroglycerine or TNT, while neglecting to notice its low density. In reality, Astrolite G has only a slightly higher detonation velocity than PETN or RDX (two of the most commonly used high explosives), both of which have a far higher brisance and material density than Astrolite G, making them far more powerful in actual practice.
Astrolite A, a secondary (and less common) type of Astrolite, is synthesized by the addition of finely powdered aluminium to the Astrolite G mixture. Though it has a lower detonation velocity (approximately 7,600 m/s) than Astrolite G, the addition of the aluminium increases both its density and brisance, moderately increasing its overall effectiveness.
A notable characteristic of the Astrolite family is its remarkable degree of persistency for a liquid explosive compound. Due to its low volatility, it can be dispersed in an area, be absorbed by the soil, and still retain its full explosive characteristics for a period of approximately 4 days. This has shown to be true even when rainwater had also been absorbed by the soil.