There are two separate examinations performed in the forensic analysis of explosives: identification and/or characterisation of the intact explosives and examination of explosive debris. Examiners will analyze intact explosives and residues as well as intact or fragmented device components. The overall objective of forensic explosives examination is the identification of any explosives present.  If intact explosive particles are found, the type of explosive, producer, and brand name may be identified. In contrast, trace residues of explosives may be analysed and classified, but are difficult to identify. Variables such as ambient temperature, weather conditions, and temperature and pressure at the time of explosion all complicate the forensic analytical process.

Explosives include imporvised explosive devices (Molotov cocktails, pyrotechnics, nail bombs, mortars, pipe bombs, pressure cooker bombs, rockets, shells and more) as well as their trigger mechanisms, detonators, switches, timers etc and forensic explosives experts can examine imporvised or homemade explosive devices and their component parts and assess the viability and possible effects of the initiated device.