# How much TNT is required to vaporize a human body?

Ideally, when I die I want to be blown up; go out with a bang, you know? However, I wouldn't want chunks raining down on everyone.

How much TNT would I need to have secured for my funeral to completely destroy my body?

• Welcome to WorldBuilding Jake! If you have a moment please take the tour and visit the help center to learn more about the site. Have fun! Commented Apr 27, 2018 at 20:18
• The energy requirement would be relatively easy to compute. But guaranteeing full vaporization, without any kind of containment chamber would be very tricky. Commented Apr 27, 2018 at 20:28
• Well Alexander, assume shaped charges and a casket. Does that help?
– Jake
Commented May 15, 2018 at 5:53

## 6 Answers

We have discussed how much energy it takes to vaporize a person before. It is within the vicinity of three gigajoules.

Using this handy conversion table, we can see that a little less than a ton of TNT would do.

However, that is a VERY BAD IDEA™.

In 1970, some people decided to blow up a whale using half a ton of TNT. Granted, that is less than my quote for little less than a whole ton above, and whales are much larger than humans[citation needed]. However, the effect would be similar to what you can see in the link... A blast of TNT does not release all of its energy as heat, and even if it did, the application on your body would probably not be optimal. Little bits would be flying everywhere anyway.

• That was one of the funniest videos I ever watched. Don't get me wrong, it was very sad... the muilation of the whale was unconscionable, but watching the reaction of the reporter who was standing a half-mile away or something like that when the offal started to rain down... I still want to laugh.
– JBH
Commented Apr 28, 2018 at 1:43
• Yeah I know, the question was literally how to avoid that happening. Actually had that video in the back of my mind when I thought of the question in the first place, it's the biggest hurdle besides obtaining tnt to this idea for a funeral.
– Jake
Commented May 15, 2018 at 5:48
• Your source's source says that "around 200 million Joules of energy would be needed to vaporize a human". That's 0.2 gigajoules, not 3 gigajoules. The Scientific American article does say 3 gigajoules to vaporize a person, but that article seems to mistakenly use the word "vaporize" to mean "completely decompose into atoms". Commented Sep 21, 2018 at 21:31
• @TannerSwett that's what we mean by vaporize here, total decomposition. Commented Sep 21, 2018 at 22:46
• The word "vaporize" has a specific meaning, and "completely decompose into atoms" isn't it. If you're going to use the word "vaporize" in a way that contradicts its standard meaning, you should at least say that you're using it in a non-standard way. Commented Sep 21, 2018 at 23:13

Quoted from Slashdot, sources provided on the page;

First, consider the true vaporization [the complete separation of all atoms within a molecule] of water. With a simple molecular structure containing an oxygen atom bonded to two hydrogen atoms, it takes serious energy to break these bonds. In fact, it takes 460 kilojoules of energy to break just one mole of oxygen-hydrogen bonds — around the same energy that a 2,000-pound car going 70 miles per hour on the highway has in potential. And that's just 18 grams of water!

So as you can see, it would take a gargantuan amount of energy to separate all the atoms in even a small glass of water — especially if that glass of water is your analog for a person. The human body is a bit more complicated than a glass of water, but it still vaporizes like one. And thanks to our spies spread across scientific organizations, we now have the energy required to turn a human into an atomic soup, to break all the atomic bonds in a body. According to the captured study, it takes around three gigajoules to entirely vaporize a person — enough to completely melt 5,000 pounds of steel or simulate a lightning bolt.

This is obviously a lot, but how much TNT does this translate to? A metric ton of TNT contains 4.184 gigajoules of force, so we actually have some left over from removing your meaty bits. But the crater will be so big that you should probably just use a different method.

• I don't think the author needs "true vaporization". Molecular vapor should be sufficient. Commented Apr 27, 2018 at 20:35
• Not that it would work anyway - you would have many hundreds of cubic meters of hydrogen/oxygen radicals. That's not anywhere near stable; those radicals would be recombining faster than they can travel away. Commented Apr 27, 2018 at 23:08
• I don't know what dictionary you are using. I can vaporize a glass of water just by letting it sit for a while. Fortunately this does not involve splitting the molecule into hydrogen and oxygen: I suspect the atmosphere would be quite flammable by now were that the case. Commented Apr 27, 2018 at 23:34
• Is this value coincidental? reminds me of specific heat of water Commented Apr 28, 2018 at 1:09
• The crater is an integral part of these proceedings, look up the bloodfire dwarf Magic the Gathering card.
– Jake
Commented May 15, 2018 at 5:51

I'll just give you a factual reference:

August 2 1980, a terrorist group set a bomb in the waiting room of Bologna station: 5 kg of TNT and T4 plus 18 kg of nitroglycerine.

Of the 85 victims, one body was never found: it is believed that person was right next to the bomb when it exploded (source).

• For those wanting and English version of the Wikipedia link. Commented Apr 27, 2018 at 21:04
• That just means that it was made into small enough chunks that it was too difficult to identify any of them. The equivalent explosion at the OP's funeral might still produce chunks big enough for the attendees to notice. Commented Apr 27, 2018 at 21:35

Have you considered thermite? Thermite mixes produce vast amounts of heat when ignited instead of exploding.

So perhaps the body could be packed in thousands of pounds or kilos, however much it is calculated to take, totally surrounded by thermite, and placed on a flotation device on a body of water hundreds of feet or meters, however far the safe distance is calculated to be, from land, and ignited.

• The explosion is the point, though.
– Jake
Commented May 15, 2018 at 5:44

According to Slashdot (Apparently they are still around), it takes 3 Gigajoules to completely vaporize a body.

According to online conversion calculators, it takes .72 tons of tnt to get 3 gigajoules.

As Renan pointed out, that's not great because the blast goes in all directions. But there are a few possibilities;

1. A human is considerably smaller than a whale (for most humans and most whales). Definitely smaller than the sperm whale in the video.
2. The video only used half a ton, not the almost three fourths of a ton that you'd need.
3. We can improve things using shaped charges, which can be highly directional. Instead of having the explosion go in all directions, send the blast straight up through the body. This will minimize the crater and ensure more complete destruction of the body.
• That energy would be hard to apply to an object that is moving ... and using TNT is strongly discouraging anything from not not moving ... Commented Apr 28, 2018 at 10:20
• @rackandboneman the question said it is for the purpose of vaporizing a body at a funeral, which I assume means is dead. Dead bodies don't move. And it doesn't have to be TNT. It could be the equivalent of .73 tons TNT in plastic explosive, which would make shaping the charge easier. Tons of TNT is just how they measure stuff. Atom bombs are measured that way. 1 kiloton atom bomb = explosive power of 1000 tons of TNT. Commented Apr 28, 2018 at 18:40
• Shaped charges was the intent. I'm trying to be cost-effective here.
– Jake
Commented May 15, 2018 at 5:46

If the pulse detonation wave is particularly powerful a few pounds of composition explosive will scatter the body into unrecognizable pieces. But vaporization.......requires bare minimum of incineration so an incendiary explosive is in order. Several kilograms of high explosives

• Is there any particular reasoning behind your final figure of "several kilograms"? Right now it honestly just looks like you pulled a number out of thin air. Commented May 12, 2020 at 10:11