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Buying chemicals.


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#1 Damo

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Posted 18 May 2003 - 09:15 PM

Hi all. It's time to pick your brains. I want to know if and where you can buy chemicals from and if it is legal to have these for private use. Chemicals like those used in black powder. those use in stars. Also is there anywhere where you can buy the tools to mix the chemicals like ball miller's etc. Any help you can give me would be brilliant. I'm new to this and want to learn. If there's any books you think a learner could do with reading or site's that should be visited please let know. Cheers, keep up the good work. Damo

#2 bernie

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Posted 19 May 2003 - 04:12 AM

As many as you can afford. Lots of smart people on the forum. They can help. Read those books like your life depended upon it. Then start very small. Safety NEVER hurts.

Edited by BigG, 08 March 2006 - 08:27 AM.


#3 BigG

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Posted 20 May 2003 - 10:59 AM

Damo, in the site, there are a few mentions about where you can obtain chemicals. Search the columns well.

In general, the basic materials you need (for example, those needed to create your first fountain) are readily available either as fertilizers, scrap, or at art suppliers. Storing such materials by nature is legal (there is no law preventing you from storing few kilos of fertilizers). However, when mixing those with the intent to create an explosive composition (and fireworks are small explosions controlled and designed by their makers), you move into the next category, which bring onto you the attention of the law.

The UK law allows the mixing of small quantity of pyrotechnic composition for the purpose of experiment. The law does not define how small is ?small quantity? but probably a few grams of low-level compositions are allowed.

Also, building fireworks (referred to as fusing and putting into practical use) are NOT allowed. Again, there is no clear definition of what is ?putting into practical use? means. Assumingly - if you do it in private to satisfy your own curiosity, that?s okay, but if you plan on showing it or selling it ? that?s illegal.

Note that if you plan storing compositions for the long run, or in large quantities, you need to register with the police and other institutions. You should read the documents recently added to the site and read the forums.

As for Ball Mill ? again, not illegal. Artists who deal with ceramics or prepare pigments from metal powder might have one in store. It is very easy to build one ? and you should look into that.

Overall ? my suggestion is that you mix only what you need, experiment far from any danger (Don?t try your new 8inch shell next to your neighbours windows :) - actually ? you should not try 8inch shell for the first couple of years?) and see if you like it.

If yes, you can investigate with the local authorities how to become legal.


Please note ? if this is the first time you look at pyrotechnic ? get some basic books. People on the forum will be glad to help with a good list. DON?T TRY ANYTHING until you sure you understood any term being used. Don?t be afraid to ask. Those who deal with fire are bound to get burned ? so you should do anything you can to minimize any dangerous to your personal safety and the safety of those around you.

BigG

#4 Damo

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Posted 20 May 2003 - 04:30 PM

Thank you for that reply. I have no intentions in making an 8inch shell yet. A 5inch will do! hehehe. No really I want to learn with safety first and I know the members on this site will be able to point me in the correct direction. As you've shown with your reply the members are a great source of good information. As you said you can find these chemical in quite common places but I've looked before and often found that you don't get a contents list on the products that contain the correct chemicals which you need to do these experiments. Do you know an product names that I can find and use from within the uk? Also I've tried to find things on this site but at the moment its under re-construction. But once again THANKS for that great reply and hope I can pick your brains again.

#5 BigG

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Posted 20 May 2003 - 04:55 PM

Okay. Lets get you reading... Go to www.google.com, select "groups" and then find the group rec.pyrotechnic. They are the largest recorded forum.

To start you will need to learn more about the first three basic chemicals. Sulphur, Potassium Nitrate and Charcoal. They also happen to be what you make BP from.

Go to rec.pyrotechnic and search for "making airfloat charcoal". That's your first project...

BigG

#6 Damo

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Posted 23 May 2003 - 10:07 PM

Hi once again. Found that site you said to go to and found loads to do with airfloat charcoal, which is nice. I beleive that you can get willow wood charcoal from art stores, willow wood seems to be a popular choice. Then I'll try to grind this down to the very fine powder that I need. Can't do this for a week or so because I need to get the charcoal and equipment together first. Once I've done this I'll be ready for your next installment. If thats ok. Thanks again. Damo

#7 smpip

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Posted 23 May 2003 - 10:37 PM

Hello Damo, if you have any difficulty in obtaining a cheap supply of willow charcoal make your own, go to the nearest willow and cut enough to fill/pack tight in a tin, a thickness of 6mm works well, Nescafe catering coffee tins are great, put a pin hole into the tin lid, then place into a bonefire, open hearth fire, or even your oven, bake at full temp until no more puffs of smoke come out of the pin hole, in an oven this can take some hours, then let cool overnight, and there you have it willow charcoal.
I cannot be held responsible for the domestic strife that may come about from using the oven.
I hope this is of some use to you.

#8 bernie

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Posted 24 May 2003 - 09:44 AM

Though I have made charcoal only a few times myself , I seem to remember that after the volitiles are driven off the pin hole(exhaust) should be plugged so air cannot get sucked back into the can. Failure to do so will result in ash. These gases that escape are of the kind that will catch fire. I think the great outdoors are a safer bet than a residential oven.
Though willow charcoal is popular, maple seems to hold some merit as well. Depends upon what your after. Certain species/varieties have particular qualities. Some are good for bp and others are good for the production of charcoal spark effects in comets and stars. Sometimes subtle and at other times very significant.
Historically, the availability of wood fibers has had a lot to do with things of this nature. Charcoal is the great big variable in the black powder ratios. The Japanese use paulownia(royal?) and hemp, pine and so on. I have myself grown paulownia just for hoots. Turns out that I negleted these gems and they have perished.
If you are very interested in the topic of charcoals I would recommend you pick up a copy of Pyrotechnica XVII. Not inexpensive if you compare it with pop. novels. Very comrehensive. It will save you countless hours of experimentation.
This of course is not to suggest that you break any laws. An educational read to be sure.
:)

#9 Pyromaster2003

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Posted 24 May 2003 - 10:15 AM

yes, i agree, baking charcoal in an oven inside is a bit stupid since the gases which escape are flammable. maybe a build up of these gases in an oven could blow up when ignited by the oven flame. i make mine in a paint tin with a 4 mm hole drilled in the top. i then place this into one of those metal home burners and put the lid on.

i have a pine tree right next to my house, i heard that the pine cones make good charcoal but thought it would be hard to work with(or maybe it was talking about the long,thin spikes). is it the pine wood or cones that i should use?

#10 bernie

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Posted 24 May 2003 - 10:53 AM

The only obvious reference is Pinus radiata = Monterey pine. Once again availibility plays a role. I doubt that the pine variety plays that significant of a role. I may be mistaken. Use what you have and compare with other charcoals that you may have on hand and 'tweek' your formulas to your liking.
I can only imagine the article has used 'cuttings'. Pine cones of course contain seeds and if I recall they pop and such when baked. They make for a more interesting campfire. Especially while sipping whiskey out in the swamp in the fall during huntin' season. :D

#11 Pyromaster2003

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Posted 24 May 2003 - 11:29 AM

rite well i may make some pine charcoal later on today and compare with willow and holly charcoal.

#12 smpip

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Posted 24 May 2003 - 06:56 PM

Bernie you are correct, that if the pin hole is not plugged (eg, with a tooth pick) then some (not all) will reduce to ash, so my apology is due, however I have produced Willow Charcoal in my electric fan assisted oven, the gases that escape are generally made up of stockholm tar, this coats the inside of the tin, various aldehydes, (which are not nice), hence the statement that I cannot be held responsible for any domestic strife from using your oven, as for Pine Charcoal, the British Charcoal producers would tell you to stay away from Pine, this warning would obviously refer to barbecue use,
a good conversion rate of wood to Charcoal would be 6 to 1, if you want to get hold of any British hardwood Charcoal powder please let me know, because the powder produced when making lumpwood Charcoal is considered a waste product.

#13 bernie

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Posted 24 May 2003 - 11:17 PM

That the gases produced in the production of charcoal are redirected to the heat source that is heating the wood in the first place. To some degree I would imagine that it reduces the BTUs required for the process.
Certainly you are correct when you say that not all is turned to ash if the hole is left open and oxygen is allowed back into said tin. The problem here is that if enough oxygen is supplied to an already warmish fuel© it is conceiveable that more than an excess of ash would be produced. ;)
Concerning the pine issue......We ain't BBQing now are we:D
I would also take a stab at the chance that more nasties are produced by pine woods in the charcoal making process. Pitch helps to start campfires out in the swamp.
smpip...can you give me some specs on that hardwood C? A rich man I am not. However, I find purchasing C to be a bargain compared w/ manufacturing the stuff.

#14 smpip

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Posted 25 May 2003 - 02:44 AM

The Charcoal producers that work in managed woodlands usually start their "burns" during the winter months, all the processing is done on site.
Once cooled the Charcoal is griddled and guided into bags, the Charcoal dust/powder is simply allowed to fall through to the ground, if I was to offer to purchase the powder (bagged of course),
there would be no problem in supply being outstripped by demand, because the producers would be making a bee line to my door.
The hardwoods used would range from anything from Beech to Willow, no Yew is ever used, (if you require more indepth info on hardwood types used, you only need to ask), if there was a demand for production of Charcoal using only one type of hardwood I am sure this could also be arranged.
Some years ago B&Q entered into an agreement to supply the public with locally produced British hardwood Charcoal (from managed woodlands), the characteristic's of British charcoal (when used on a BBQ) are quite unique, it will light with only a scrunched up piece of newspaper under it and it burns evenly.
I have not experimented with other Charcoal types within my mixes so I cannot comment on their pro's & con's, however since joining this forum I will start to.
Buying rather than producing is always going to be the best option, but it doesn't
hurt to know how.:)

#15 bernie

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Posted 25 May 2003 - 05:13 PM

Thanks for the info. I have made charcoal in the past and found that it is not a difficult task at all. Buying the stuff is a lot more appealing.
All this talk of charcoal has motivated me to find some pine and give that a try in the near future. I'm not after speed as much as I am spark production. I need to conclude a few things I'm fiddling around with but if it turns out that pine has the qualities I think it does I will post any useful information. I imagine that it possibly would depend upon what time of the year you cut your wood. We will see now won't we.




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