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Analysis of a Suspect Explosive Component: Hydrogen Peroxide in Hair Coloring Developer

NCJ Number
Edward G. Bartick; Rena A. Merrill; Kelly H. Mount
Date Published
October 2001
5 pages
This article describes the process used for the analysis of a suspect explosive compound submitted to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Laboratory as case evidence.
The analysis indicated that the evidence submitted to the FBI could be used to produce hexamethylenetriperoxidediamine (HMTD), an extremely unstable explosive material. The use of Raman spectroscopy showed the distinct presence of the hydrogen peroxide stretching point and was carried out while the specimen was still in the sample glass vial, which rendered the analysis of the corrosive substance safe and rapid. As such, the authors suggest that Raman analysis is the method of choice when examining unstable materials. The evidence presented to the FBI for forensic analysis was taken from the home of a suspect under suspicion for producing bombs and included 2 5-ounce cans labeled citric acid, 5 tubes labeled hexamine, an empty 1-pint bottle labeled Welloxide liquid stabilizer developer, and a small vial containing a portion of the liquid originally in the Welloxide bottle. Welloxide is a hair coloring developer that contains hydrogen peroxide. Since one of the specimens contained peroxides which are highly corrosive, infrared (IR) and Raman spectrometry techniques were used for the analysis. The specific equipment and steps used for the analysis of the evidence is presented. Figures, references