are chemical compounds
which include the fulminate ion
. The fulminate ion
is a pseudohalic ion
, acting like a halogen
with its charge and reactivity. Due to the instability of the ion
, they are friction-sensitive explosives
. The best known is mercury fulminate
which has been used as a primary explosive in detonators
. Fulminates can be formed from metals, like silver
, dissolved in nitric acid and reacted with alcohol
. The chemical formula for the fulminate ion
. It is largely the presence of the weak single nitrogen-oxygen bond which leads to its instability. Nitrogen very easily forms a stable triple bond
to another nitrogen atom, forming gaseous nitrogen.
Fulminates were discovered by Edward Charles Howard
in 1800.. Their use in firearms in a fulminating powder was first demonstrated by a Scottish minister, A. J. Forsyth, who was granted a patent in 1807. Joshua Shaw then made the transition to their use in metallic encapsulations, to form a percussion cap
, but did not patent his invention until 1822.
In the 1820s, the organic chemist Justus Liebig discovered silver fulminate (Ag-CNO) and Friedrich Wöhler discovered silver cyanate (Ag-OCN). The fact that these substances have the same chemical composition led to an acrid dispute, which was not resolved until Jöns Jakob Berzelius came up with the concept of isomers.