-1
$\begingroup$

I am imagining a creature (whatsoever) that could produce an other type of saliva when needed.

it can produce normal saliva to ease digestion, but it can also produce, when needed, a strange type of jelly, an explosive type of saliva that it can spit.

Therefore, I have absolutely NO IDEA how the saliva could explode (the explosive solution that he produces would explode in contact with air but i don't know how). To not harm the creature, I thought that the explosive saliva could be surrounded with a mucus made of lots of bubbles. When the creature spits the special saliva, bubbles that surround the explosive saliva bursts when it hits the target, so the saliva is in direct contact with the air, it then "explodes". Or, let's say the creature wants to blow up the base of a tree. I thought he could stick the explosive saliva (yes, the saliva should have sticky properties) onto the tree trunk and wait for the protective mucus to dissolve (in a matter of more or less 30 seconds) for the saliva to explode.

Now here are the required points:

-explosive saliva that can be released when needed (from a pouch inside), and normal saliva would be produced normally, when the creature doesn't use the detonating one.

-a protective mucus composed of bubbles that surrounds the explosive saliva which bursts if the creature spits hard enough, or naturally dissolves itself in a matter of 30 seconds, allowing after the explosive saliva to explode. (Or if you can, find something that ables the special saliva to explode when far away from the creature, and can act like a timer-bomb, that's the only solution i've found).

-the explosive saliva to explode in contact with air. what will it be made of? If it isn't possible, be free to find something else.

-the explosive saliva to be sticky.( I thought that it would stay liquid when in contact with the normal saliva in the creatures mouth, but when it isn't anymore, it becomes sticky. feel free to find an other solution.

I hope you will find a solution that requires all the criterias (if not possible, it's fine).

$\endgroup$

closed as too broad by L.Dutch, sphennings, AngelPray, Hohmannfan, Frostfyre Jul 24 '17 at 12:16

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Have you done any research yourself on the topic? If so, please edit into the question to show some work. "I hope you will find a solution that fits the requirements" is asking us to do your research for you. $\endgroup$ – Aify Jul 23 '17 at 18:07
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Does said creature needs to be using a substance that's actually possible? $\endgroup$ – Hyfnae Jul 23 '17 at 18:53
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ try a binary explosive, there are already biologically produced binary explosives. The bombardier beetle produces two different chemicals separately then mixes them to create an explosion, you could easily have a binary that merely becomes unstable instead exploding when it experiences a shock, like say hitting something. $\endgroup$ – John Jul 24 '17 at 5:56
3
$\begingroup$

Based on a quick Wikipedia browsing, biologically producing nitroglycerin could be plausible.

Nitric oxide is a natural signalling molecule, which can be oxidized to produce nitrogen dioxide, which can be reacted with water to produce nitric acid. Sulfuric acid could be produced by oxidation of natural minerals, e.g. pyrite, perhaps from the creature's diet. The alga Desmarestia munda uses sulfuric acid as defense, so that is definitely possible.

This is where it gets a little tricky. The most common way of producing nitroglycerin involves oleum—a solution of sulfuric acid and sulfur trioxide—with dilute nitric acid, but AFAIK sulfur trioxide cannot be produced without combustion. The other way requires very pure nitric acid, which may be tricky to produce naturally, but is probably the more plausible option.

Anyway, the two acids are mixed and then glycerol (produced from metabolizing stored fat) is added slowly. This reaction is exothermic, and if it gets too hot it can explode immediately. Safe temperatures seem to fall between 22–30°C (72–86°F). Either the creature's body temperature should fall within that range or there should be some sort of temperature regulation mechanism.

Now for the time-bomb feature. Magicsowon's suggestion of desensitizing with acetone is a good idea. Re-sensitizing it to make it detonate is more difficult; if the acetone is gradually neutralized, the explosion may be weak or even nonexistent. Nitroglycerin can deflagrate (burn in a non-explosive manner) if it doesn't receive a good enough initial shock, especially if it's diluted. If your creature has good enough temperature-control mechanisms, simply freezing pure nitroglycerin (which happens at 13°C/55°F) would desensitize it, and thawing it (especially if there are impurities) would likely be enough to trigger an explosion.

As for the stickiness, just some sort of thick mucus would be enough for that. Nitroglycerin isn't something that should stay in anyone's mouth for very long anyway.

If anyone is a chemist feel free to tear apart my answer!

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Let's say that Nitroglycerin is produced in a special pouch and when it goes up it is covered up with mucus. Enough to stick to a tree and eventually dissolve but not enough to prevent it from exploding if spat. All and all, this is a pretty dangerous capacity and wouldn't make its way through environmental pressure unless this creature had to blow stuff up on a regular basis in order to mate $\endgroup$ – Liquid Same Jul 24 '17 at 8:47
1
$\begingroup$

I have not enough knowledge of chemistry to tell you how this could be done, but your creature could produce desensitized nitroglycerine. According to the Wiki entry, you could mix it with 10-30% of acetone or alcohol and it won't explode.

Your creature could create some sort of explosive egg, in which the nitroglycerine with acetone is the yolk. When the yolk membrane bursts, the explosive "white" reacts exothermic with the acetone or alcohol giving the nitroglycerine enough energy to explode.

$\endgroup$

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.