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This seems like a basic question, but I'm asking because I've shot regular arrows at barrels and to my surprise they didn't explode.

Z Breath of the Wild Explosive Barrels

Under what circumstances do explosive barrels explode?

  • I don't know the answer but perhaps you could run a simple experiment. Generally throwing it around doesn't make it explode, but does it explode if thrown from a high enough altitude? Shooting an arrow or two at it (or perhaps even attacking it with a sword directly) doesn't make it explode, but does it eventually explode after you shoot/hit it enough times? I'm thinking that it will only explode after dealing enough damage to it in a single blow and not necessarily cumulative. Of course there's exceptions to the rule (fire). I just don't have the means to test it right now. – Jeff Mercado Jun 12 '17 at 9:09
  • @JeffMercado: From personal experience, barrels do blow up when thrown. Maybe not always, but I remember two distinct cases of it happening. Once when directly hitting an enemy, once when hitting a wall right in front of me. Potentially, the point of impact (e.g; on the enemy) or the throwing force can cause it to trigger; I can't say for sure. – Flater Jun 12 '17 at 10:09
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The most reliable way I've found to destroy explosive barrels is with fire or bomb arrows. You can make impromptu fire arrows by walking into a flame while you have your bow out; the tip of the arrow will catch fire until you fire it or you put the bow away.

Typically, exploding barrels won't detonate when thrown on level ground. I'm not sure if throwing them from a higher altitude would make a difference; in my experience, bokoblin camps such as the one depicted above rarely give me an opportunity to do so, as the barrels are clustered around the enemy's campfire or inside their skull cave so you can shoot them or drop a flame on them and kill or maim the entire camp at once. I've had more success breaking boxes and barrels with blunt weapons than with sharp ones; however, this method of breaking exploding barrels requires that you detonate them while inside their blast radius, which I do not recommend.

One of the tips that appears on the loading screen says that if you use Stasis on an exploding barrel and hit it away, the barrel will detonate when it lands. Again, I have very rarely seen opportunities to use exploding barrels like this, but if you're dead set on using them as artillery shells and you are low on/out of arrows, this is probably your best option.

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  • Minor correction, I'm pretty sure a regular arrow that has been lit by fire will automatically go out if you don't fire it within a certain amount of time. I know for sure I've had this happen when trying to fire blue flame; I think it happens with regular fire as well. – GendoIkari Jun 19 '17 at 16:58
  • About your statement I'm not sure if throwing them from a higher altitude would make a difference, I can confirm that dropping a barrel from a sufficiently high altitude will cause it to explode. There aren't many places to do it in the world as you mention, but I did this many times during The Trial of the Sword. – Cody Jul 6 '17 at 17:12
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Barrels will explode when exposed to a strong impact, heat/fire, electricity (I think) or another explosion. For example, on the Great Plateau you can push a boulder onto some barrels and they will go boom.

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    I think anything that would destroy a regular barrel will make an explosive barrel explode. The catch is that regular barrels are remarkably difficult to destroy... I've tried hacking at one (non-ex) with my sword and had the sword break first. ;) – Steve-O Jun 12 '17 at 14:31
  • @Steve-O Barrels always broke for me after one hit from a sword. Did this happen to you multiple times? – splattered bits Jun 12 '17 at 14:58
  • @splatteredbits I mean, I didn't try that hard all the time, and tbh that sword was probably damaged already, but they still took many hits to break. They also had a frustrating habit of bouncing off walls instead of breaking against them. Keep in mind there's regular barrels and then there's rotted barrels. Rotted barrels break super easy. The ones that are still whole are a lot more solid though. – Steve-O Jun 12 '17 at 18:13

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