Breaking Bad Wiki
Breaking Bad Wiki
Jesse: "So, uh, what's this stuff called again?"
Walt: "Thermite."
Jesse: "And that will cut through a lock? Because this is supposed to be one big-ass lock."
Walt: "In World War II, the Germans had an artillery piece -- it's the biggest in the world -- called the Gustav Gun. And it weighed a thousand tons. And the Gustav was capable of firing a 7-ton shell and hitting a target, accurately, twenty-three miles away. I mean, you could drop bombs on it every day for a month without ever disabling it. But... drop a commando... one man, with just a bag of this... and he could melt right through four inches of solid steel and destroy that gun forever."
Jesse: "Jeez."
Walt: "So, yes. I think it will cut through any lock we're likely to find."
―Jesse and Walt discussing thermite[src]

Thermite is a pyrotechnic combination of metal powder that, when ignited by heat, undergoes a exothermic-reduction oxidation reaction. In Breaking Bad, Walter White is seen making it with aluminum powder and powdered iron oxide.


Season 1[]

In order to steal the methylamine they need to continue cooking, Walter White hits upon the idea of making thermite to cut through the warehouse lock after seeing some old Etch-a-Sketch like toys on a shelf. Walt empties the aluminum powder from several of the toys and mixes it with powdered iron oxide to create thermite while explaining to Jesse Pinkman the power of the powder.

Later, during the warehouse robbery, Walt and Jesse use the thermite, ignited by a blow torch, to burn through the warehouse lock. However, it also causes a small fire on the door and sets off the alarms. ("A No-Rough-Stuff-Type Deal")


  • Walt's story of how thermite was used by a one-man commando to disable the Gustav Gun is made-up, as in reality the cannon was destroyed by the Germans themselves on 14 April 1945, one day before the arrival of US troops, to prevent it from falling in the hands of the Allied troops. It's likely that Walt exaggerated the story of the gun to an unsuspecting Jesse, to show him just how effective his thermite will be against the metal lock.
    • Its possible Walt wasn't describing how the Gustav was actually disabled but simply using the fact that it could be disabled like that as an example of the power of thermite while explaining it to Jesse. Notably, Walt never said that it happened, just that it would work.
  • The way the thermite is used against the lock would not do much damage as most of the heat would be lost when the mixture burns off and spreads hot metallic droplets everywhere. When thermite is ignited, it's usually done is a ceramic container with a small opening in its bottom (sometimes flower pots are used), which contains the heat and the molten metal until enough of it has accumulated, with the bottom hole allowing the molten metal to be poured in a controlled manner. Thus, the only explanation as to why it even worked, is that the extreme heat from the reaction must have severely damaged the locking mechanism, causing it to open, as the lock appeared mostly intact after the thermite charge burned off.

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