Initial Detonating Agents
These substances can be detonated with relative ease by heat, impact or friction. They are primarily used for detonating less sensitive high explosives. The first initiating agent was mercury fulminate, with first detailed description in 1800, however it had been known of even earlier. Its use as an initiating agent was instituted by Alfred Nobel in 1864, when he experimented with nitroglycerin, successfully creating an explosion.
Generally it is manufactured by the reaction of mercury, ethyl alcohol and nitric acid. Mercury fulminate is one of the highly sensitized agents and can serve many purposes however, it has a disadvantage of being expensive and unstable during its storage. Such factors have led to development of other substances, among them are lead azide and diazodinitrophenol, commonly called DDNP. These two substances have for the most part, replaced mercury fulminate.