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Would it even be a Fallout game if there were no nuclear materials? Probably not.
Given that the world of Fallout came to an end thanks to items made with nuclear material, you would think it horrible stuff, am I right? In actuality, nuclear material will be one of your most-used components in post-Apocalyptica.
Crafting is essential in Fallout 4, and if you want to craft, you’re going to need a lot of materials. Let’s get you set up nicely, shall we? Pack up your Geiger counters cause in this nuclear material Fallout 4 guide, we’re going hunting for some gooey green stuff.
What is Nuclear Material?
Nuclear material is one of nine rare crafting components in Fallout 4. You can obtain nuclear material by purchasing items from vendors or scrapping weapons that contain it.
What items contain aluminum?
There are 15 items in Fallout 4 that contain nuclear material. Each of them yields a different amount of nuclear material.
- Alarm clock (Yields 1 nuclear material)
- Biometric scanner (Yields 2 nuclear material)
- Blast Radius board game (Yields nuclear material)
- Distress Pulser (Yields 1 nuclear material)
- High-powered magnet (Yields 1 nuclear material)
- Ichor sac (Yields 1 nuclear material)
- Inactive distress Pulser (Yields 1 nuclear material)
- Mini nuke beryllium cap (Yields 1 nuclear material)
- Mini nuke detonator shell (Yields 2 nuclear material)
- Mini nuke hemisphere core (Yields 1 nuclear material)
- Prototype biometric scanner (Yields 2 nuclear material)
- Radioactive gland (Yields 2 nuclear material)
- Radscorpion stinger (Yields 2 nuclear material)
- Recorder (Yields 1 nuclear material)
- Wakemaster alarm clock (Yields 2 nuclear material)
The three mini-nuke items are found in one location and are the only ones in the entire game. Both distress pulses are similarly rare, and you only come across them in Brotherhood of Steel-related business. You can only find the recorder in the Institute. So while 15 items in the game can break down into nuclear material, only 11 will appear often.
What is nuclear material used for?
Nuclear material is a valuable material used in many crafting recipes and mods. Nuclear material is arguably one of the hardest crafting components to get your hands on (More on that later), but there is an upside to it.
In the early/mid-game, you won’t be using all that much nuclear material. Most of the good stuff starts to pop up in the late mid-game. Once you reach that point, you should have a nice reserve of nuclear material stored up.
Reflex sights, glow sights, night vision scopes, and recon scopes use nuclear material. Additionally, Irradiated ballistic weapons use up nuclear material for mods like receivers.
As you would expect, the Fatman, laser weapons, and plasma weapons use nuclear material for numerous weapon mods.
Grenades & Mines
What’s a little blow-up stuff without some radioactivity? Numerous grenades and mines need nuclear material if you want to craft them.
You also need nuclear material for a single weather-change shell, but you will probably never use it.
If you are at least level 30 and have the Nuka-World DLC installed, you can travel to the Nuka-World Amusement Park. Here you can find a weapon known as the Thirst Zapper. A glorified squirt gun, the Thirst Zapper uses weaponized Nuka-Cola as ammunition.
You can weaponize Nuka-Cola, Nuka-Cherry, and Nuka-Cola Quantum.
Most of the more useful Power Armor mods require nuclear material.
If you want to create an army of robots to conquer the Commonwealth, be prepared to use up a lot of nuclear material to make them.
Various settlement craftables, like generators or laser turrets, need nuclear material.
What’s the best way to acquire nuclear material?
There are four ways to obtain nuclear material in Fallout 4. That’s purchasing it from vendors, scrapping weapons that contain nuclear material, settlers scavenging for junk items, or finding items with nuclear material out in the Commonwealth.
Buying Nuclear Material
The best method of accruing nuclear material in Fallout 4 is simply buying items that contain it from vendors.
I cannot stress enough how little nuclear material you will use in the early game of Fallout 4. Because of this, some players will mistakenly slack on farming nuclear material early on, and it’ll bite them in the rear in the long run.
Most vendors that sell junk in Fallout 4 will sell alarm clocks, biometric scanners, and Blast Radius board games. Make a habit of doing “merchant tours” around the Commonwealth, buying up these items every time you see them. These items are very cheap, and this is an excellent method for passively farming nuclear material. By the time you get around to modding your T-60B Power Armor and plasma rifle, you should have more than enough green stuff to get it done.
Shipment of Nuclear Material
Nuclear material is the hardest to farm rare crafting component in Fallout 4, and shipments are one of the reasons for that.
Out of the nine rare crafting components in Fallout 4, only two have one vendor that offers shipments of them: nuclear material and gold. What makes nuclear material the hardest to farm? How about the fact that the vendor who sells shipments of nuclear material doesn’t sell them consistently?
Alexis Combes in Vault 81 can sell shipments of nuclear material, but she doesn’t always have it in stock. Many times you will pay her and visit and come up short. To make matters worse, it’s only a shipment of 25, rather than 50 or 100.
Regardless, I still recommend paying her a visit on any “merchant tour” you do. Even if she doesn’t have the shipment in stock, she will still have junk items that you can scrap for nuclear material.
Scrapping is a godsend for farming nuclear material, but there are some things you need to keep in mind.
If you are at least level 23 and have at least 5 Intelligence, you can get the second rank of the Scrapper perk. Rank 2 Scrapper allows you to receive rare crafting components when scrapping weapons and armor.
Next comes finding items to scrap, and the sweet spot is energy weapons. Energy weapons are pretty rare, however. A guaranteed way of finding energy weapons is by taking on Institute Synths.
Mahkra Fishpacking is a hotspot for Synths, though it is a trek to get there. Call to Arms and Tradecraft, the initial quests in the Brotherhood of Steel and Railroad questlines, are great ways of running into Synths. At higher levels, Gunners will start to carry energy weapons more.
Unassigned settlers will automatically scavenge junk items if your settlement has scavenging stations. Assigning settlers to these stations will increase the number of junk items they scavenge every in-game day.
While not always the case, scavengers will acquire items that you can break down into nuclear material. There is a limit to how many junk items your scavengers can obtain for you. Scavengers will no longer gather items for you once they hit the cap.
There is a way to get around this, however. Remove all your junk out of secondary settlements, and store it at your home base. That will make your scavengers resume their work.
Robots and Turrets
Turrets can provide nuclear material in the form of biometric scanners. As for robots, assaultrons, protectrons, and Misty Handy drop biometric scanners and nuclear material.
That’s not as good as you might think, however. Two unique Misty Handy drop biometric scanners but standard units do not. You aren’t going to run into many assaultrons and protectrons either. Getting the most out of robots requires the Automatron DLC.
The Automatron DLC adds a new faction, the Rust Devils, robot variants, and new robot enemies. To begin the Automatron DLC, you need to be at least level 15. After hitting level 15, you will automatically receive a quest notification for the quest Mechanical Menace. Complete this quest, and the Rust Devils and their robot companions will spawn in the Commonwealth. They will also become one of the potential raiding parties of your settlements.
Automatron adds seven new robots: Swarmbots, Tankbots, Junkbots, Scrapbots, Trashbots, and Turretbots. Of these six, swarmbots, tankbots, and junkbots all drop biometric scanners.
Super Mutant Suiciders
Your first encounter with a Super Mutant Suicider is one of the most memorable moments of Fallout 4. Out of nowhere, you start hearing that beep, beep, beep. You frantically spin around trying to find the source, and the next thing you know, A Super Mutant Suicider runningback is charging at you like you’re in the endzone of a football field.
Super Mutant Suiciders are very dangerous but aren’t hard to kill. Target the mini-nuke under their arm, and it will explode prematurely, killing them and anyone around them. It’ll cost you their mini-nuke as loot, but it’s the safest way to deal with them at early levels.
If their mini-nukes detonate prematurely, their corpses will have nuclear material instead.
Enemies tagged as Glowing can drop nuclear material when you kill them. However, Glowing enemies don’t have it as guaranteed drops.
Fancy using plasma weapons? Any plasma or plasma-infused gun has a chance of spawning nuclear material on enemies that you kill.
See that blotch of green goo in the screenshot below? Get used to searching those, as they might have a pleasant surprise.
To access Vault 88, you must have the Vault-Tec Workshop DLC and be at least level 20. After this, you can travel to Vault 88 and begin the DLC questline. Be aware that reaching Vault 88 will take you through Hyde Park and Quincy Quarries. Both of these locations have a ton of raiders, so be prepared for a lot of fighting.
Once inside Vault 88, you can engage in experiments. One of these experiments will take you to a uranium mining shaft. You can scrap these uranium deposits in workshop mode for a large amount of nuclear material.
Question: Besides Vault 88, are there are locations ripe for farming nuclear material?
Answer: Unfortunately, no. As far as I know, Vault 88 is the only place in Fallout 4 that gives a massive amount of nuclear material. I can’t think of any areas with respawnable loot with a lot of the green stuff.
Question: Is the Thirst Zapper a good weapon?
Answer: Yes and no. If you get every rank of the Gunslinger perk, the damage is pretty impressive. However, the component costs for this weapon’s ammo are steep. I wouldn’t recommend investing in the Thirst Zapper until you are well into the game.
Question: Can I make Nuka-Grenades with nuclear material?
Answer: Unfortunately, no. Nuka-Grenades are very powerful, but Bethesda removed the ability to craft them. If you want your blow-up stuff to have a burst of flavor, you need to find them.
And with that, ladies and gents, my nuclear material guide has come to an end.
Despite being the most difficult rare crafting component to acquire, it’s not as bad as it sounds. So long as you passively farm it by buying the proper junk items from vendors, you will have a very nice reserve of it by the time you can use it. Just don’t get carried away and try to mod every energy weapon you get your hands on, and you shouldn’t ever run out of the stuff.
See you out in the wastes, and remember to bring your Geiger Counter!