detonator (dĕˈtənāˌtər) [key], type of explosive that reacts with great rapidity and is used to set off other, more inert explosives. Fulminate of mercury mixed with potassium chlorate is a commonly used detonator. The word is also applied to equipment which, by flame, spark, percussion, friction, or pressure, is used to set off a chemical detonator.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.