In Breaking Bad when Walter White brought that bag of Mercury(II) Fulminate to that drug dealer it was relatively a big amount of that substance but as it says on wikipedia

it can even explode under water and is impossible to accumulate in large amounts because it detonates under its own weight.

Mercury Fulminate Preperation

How is it possible for that chemical not to explode due to its own weight and friction in bag ??

  • 1
    Related movies.stackexchange.com/questions/14738/…
    – Ankit Sharma
    Commented Dec 24, 2013 at 9:09
  • 1
    Your quote from the Wikipedia article actually refers to Silver Fulminate, not Mercury: "Silver fulminate can be prepared in a similar way, but this salt is even more unstable than mercury fulminate; it can even explode under water and is impossible to accumulate in large amounts because it detonates under its own weight."
    – toryan
    Commented Dec 26, 2013 at 19:05
  • I also always thought, why didn't it explode when the thugs were patting him down? Commented Mar 17, 2014 at 19:13
  • Seems like this should be asked on chemistry.se
    – DA.
    Commented Jun 15, 2015 at 16:57

3 Answers 3


This was covered on Mythbusters in the Breaking Bad special - that scene was purely artistic license and it would not be;

  • safe to carry that quantity of mercy fulminate
  • possible to create an explosion of that size without killing everybody in the room

I think it is possible. "Walt" was a clever person, he knew he could make his point by demonstrating power and was definitely not intending to blow himself up by blasting a whole bag of mercury fulminate even if it was possible to carry.

Also the weight difference might have easily been noticed.

He must have filled the bag with the drugs and lined the top with the explosives, so that he could pick up any piece without doubt.

Also he does not shake the bag a lot and neither does anyone else if it was a small lining only then the scene is scientifically possible.

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    Agreed, lets be honest for a second. If you saw a deranged middle age man just chuck a small amount of Mercury(II) Fulminate that exploded the crap out of a building and threatened to do so again with a bigger bag. Are you really going to challenge him and say "well uhh Mercury(II) Fulminate cannot be carried in that much quantity". No and I doubt Tuco would know Mercury(II) Fulminate couldn't be carried in that much quantity either.
    – Jared
    Commented Jan 13, 2014 at 3:57

Maybe, only the one particle that Heisenberg gives to Tuco is actually Mercury(II) Fulminate. The others are just similarly textured random particles. When Heisenberg demonstrates Tuco the damage he can do, he is just bluffing to create explosion with other particles. The other particles were never Mercury(II) Fulminate. Thus, Walt must have taken care that the only Mercury(II) Fulminate doesn't react or explode by friction with other particles.

Also, Heisenberg is very careful about quantities. To add to that, he doesn't have much money at that part of series. So he must have created just one particle of Mercury(II) Fulminate to intimidate Tuco, that's it. Also, in later episodes, S05, Jesse explains to Hank and Gomez that Walter has far more luck on his side than them. So it was just pure luck that Tuco got Heisenberg's point in one particle use. Had Tuco retaliated against that explosion, Heisenberg would have not survived.

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