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#1 miniskinny

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Posted 07 June 2004 - 08:34 PM

Alright, yes flash powder is and should be a sensitive topic, but I haven't really seen anybody hit the subject that directly on this forum, so I feel that I should start up the questions and answers.
Alright, first off, I know that flash powders are to be used only in small amounts, perhaps larger amounts in mortors, but what are good formulas for specific flashes?
I have found several, but I think I'll ask if I can share them online before I actually do?

until my next response,
-mini


by the way, I was reading a post about BP growing white stuff, and you guys referring to it as 'mould'. Do you guys really spell 'mold' that way? I was confused, and thought it was pronounced "mowld". Hmm. That's all I wanted to say... :unsure:
When one plays with fire, one is bound to get burndt.

#2 BigG

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Posted 07 June 2004 - 10:29 PM

I think we been there first :)

In "proper" English, one should spell mould, not mold. That's American - aka "not very accurate" spelling :)

Just kidding - The British always take the piss out of American English. Yes, British spell ?mould? not ?mold?, ?colour? not ?color?, ?for sale? not ?4 sale? etc :)

As for flash powder ? keep it off until Adam or Richard says they are happy with it. While flash is used in pyrotechnic, it also falls into the category of high explosive, and they need to decide where to draw the line.

#3 Demented Ferret

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Posted 08 June 2004 - 12:49 AM

The white stuff, forms under heat or too much drying, a slower decomposition I think...When I heat my blackmatch/BP up for 20 hours in the good ole casserole oven the entire thing would turn white...It's still flammable and produces a flame - just not as good at the real thing.

#4 Richard H

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Posted 08 June 2004 - 06:54 PM

Flash powder does have it's place in pyrotechnics, and is a mainstay of european style displays. As such I don't have a problem discussing it on the forum.

Take care.

#5 italteen3

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Posted 08 June 2004 - 07:47 PM

Well mini hello! I was once a ground cracker maker. I have now stopped and gotten into pyrotechnics so let me give you some advice I have learned. Luckily I never had an accident but if I didnt get into pyrotechnics I most likely would have.

If your going to be making flash I would suggest 70/30 Perc/Alum flash, as it is probably the most widely used and safest, still not safe, of all the flash powders out. I recomend using thick gloves, wear eye, ear, breathing, and body protection. Make sure your respirator (you do have one right?) is the right one for the job because I believe aluminum inhalation has been found to be linked with Alzheimers, so I think nobody wants to go out that way. Make sure your area is static free. I recomend Understanding and Making Exploding Fireworks by John Donner as a guide.

Some things I did myself was to make batches of Flash no more then 40 grams. The reason for this is the critical mass for 70/30 Flash is around 50 grams. So if an accident is to occur it will most likely not take off fingers.

Static is another potential hazard when dealing with Flash. First never work indoors unless adequate facilities are availabe which I doubt you or I have. Outdoors is best in a nice humid environment as this reduces the risk of static.

This is not safe stuff and I have barely touched on this issue but hopefully it will get you started in the right direction. Dont stray into the boom world, as I have been there and pyrotechnics offers the best of both worlds. Which is why I came here! Remember "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing."

Be safe man. Hope it helped.

Edited by italteen3, 08 June 2004 - 07:49 PM.


#6 Phoenix

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Posted 08 June 2004 - 09:09 PM

Firstly, permanganate flash powders. There are several formulas using potassium permanganate, which I suspect is why people do occasionally enquire as to where this oxidiser can be got. They should be left well alone. All flash powders are sensitive, and there is a risk that they may be ignited by friction, static, impact etc, but the safer ones, eg 70:30 and buffered nitrate flash, will not spontaneously ignite (or are at least very unlikely to). Permanganate compositions will, and often do. They will also ignite from the slightest friction or impact. Furthermore, the safer flash powders will not burn you skin or give you manganese poisoning on contact, like potassium permanganate does. There is no need to use permanganate flash powders, much safer formulas exist.

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In TIF 10, Ofca advises that chlorate flash powders not be used, and I personally have not, and will not use them, as the two flash powders I will give later have been plenty sufficient for my needs. However, other people have used them successfully, and whilst they are probably not really safe, they are a hell of a lot safer than permanganate powders, and are of similar power.

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I rarely use flash, as for me BP is much cheaper and easier, and faster burning, and less likely to go off without being told to. The only time I use flash is when I want a bright flash, eg for bottle rocket headers. On the some occasions when I do need the stuff, I use the following, very common formula:

Potassium Nitrate.........50
Sulphur.......................30
Aluminium...................20
Boric Acid (Optional)....+1

I haven't got around to getting any boric acid yet, but I have so far I have mixed the stuff in small quantities and used it within a couple of days. If you were going to have it hanging around it would be a good idea to include the buffer.

The aluminium I use is home made, probably flake shape, and passing 200 mesh. The potassium nitrate and sulphur are ball milled for several hours. The ingredients are diapered together. The resulting powder seems to burn a little slower than good meal BP, but brightly. Under good confinement, it produces a similar report. Using a real flash aluminium would no doubt produce a much punchier powder, but as I said, I use this to produce a brighter flash than BP, not a louder bang, so that is not a problem.

This powder is said to be a little more forgiving than perchlorate based powders, as the tendency for accidental ignition is lower and the critical mass is higher. However, this should be treated as useful increase in safety, not an invitation to be rough with the stuff. The same precautions should apply as with any other flash powder.

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Another way to achieve a more pronounced flash than with straight BP is to add some aluminium powder to meal BP, and use that in the same way as flash. The amount is not critical, so for small quantities (eg enough for one ?? rocket) you can just judge the amounts by eye (once you know what they look like). A good start point would be:

Black Powder....90
Aluminium........10
Boric Acid.........+1

This is rather like a nitrate flash as above, so again, the same applies for the boric acid. The flash is not as bright as with the above formula, but more so than with BP. This is in fact my most commonly used "Flash Powder" as it uses relatively little aluminium, and is very easy to prepare in small amounts. This formula resembles a fountain formula, but since flash aluminium rather than flitter is used, it will be more sensitive so should be handled with care.

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Finally, for ground salutes, why not use BP? Personally, I mostly use them during the day, when the flash is not that noticeable anyway. If you are going to use a salute in daylight, you can just save yourself the trouble and expense of flash powder by using good ol' BP, or (less preferably) H3. If you do have access to dark aluminium, so actually could make a flash powder that is significantly faster (louder) than BP, then there might be an incentive there, but a bigger BP salute could produce the same effect, and even small BP salutes are probably plenty loud enough. For occasions where you want a flash, then the BP and Al formula is, IMHO, probably the safest and easiest to use.

#7 Matt

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Posted 08 June 2004 - 10:29 PM

Whilst on this subject could anyone tell me the life of mg/ nitrate flash?

how long does it keep without coating the mg? If i was to coat the mg with linseed oil how long would it keep for then?

-Matt
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#8 Creepin_pyro

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Posted 09 June 2004 - 01:02 PM

I'm no authority on the subject, but I have some Mg/Nitrate flash sitting happily in a safe place. As far as I know, the Mg is un-coated and I've suffered no unwanted reactions. I just keep it WAY away from anything.... if it did decide to go off, there would be no bad consequences. I have various forms of Mg powder. The one I used for this flash smells strange and sweet, and the other Mg powders do not smell atall. Is it possible that I have ready-coated Mg?

Here's a little "theatrical" flash pot I made a while back. I just love the globular fallout......

What must the neighbours think?

#9 Yugen-biki

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Posted 09 June 2004 - 03:01 PM

My Al powder has a sweetish oily smell and it is coated.

I have found 70/30 Perc/Al flash to be safe* and good. It NEEDS a thick container to make a loud noise.

*I put some comp. on a cement surface and hammered if lightly useing a metall hammer. When nothing happened I started to hammer harder and harder. I did not manage to make it ignite. Please have safety gear on if testing this! And use only a pinch of comp! Do I have to say that the surface has to be cleared from anything laying around!?

EDIT: The 70/30 is one of the safer ones! Not a safe comp. Sorry, my bad!

Edited by Yugen-biki, 10 June 2004 - 05:59 PM.


#10 BigG

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Posted 09 June 2004 - 09:18 PM

My Al powder has a sweetish oily smell and it is coated.

I have found 70/30 Perc/Al flash to be safe* and good. It NEEDS a thick container to make a loud noise.

*I put some comp. on a cement surface and hammered if lightly useing a metall hammer. When nothing happened I started to hammer harder and harder. I did not manage to make it ignite. Please have safety gear on  if testing this! And use only a pinch of comp! Do I have to say that the surface has to be cleared from anything laying around!?

Safe..?!?!

So, you are an authority on the subject - when flash was tested many times in a lab and proof to be extra sensetive to both friction and mechnical action? Please - don't talk nonsense. Flash is not safe and need to be treated with the upmost respect.

#11 italteen3

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Posted 10 June 2004 - 01:55 AM

BigG I agree with you 100%........but you need to work on your grammar :P .

Yugen it definately is not safe. Maybe he meant it is the safest, still not safe, of the flash powders.

#12 Yugen-biki

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Posted 10 June 2004 - 05:57 PM

Oops sorry! Not as safe as other comps but compared to other kinds of flash.
I have great respect for flash! As a matter of fact I have that much respect that I almost never make and use it!


Reading a lot about flash and friction and mechnical sensitivity I had to make my own test to get an idea how sensitive it was. It is good to know what you are handeling!

#13 miniskinny

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Posted 11 June 2004 - 05:01 AM

So you fellows say that Permanganate flash powders are dangerous and spontaneous...HMM...Wel l I admit to using them a lot, since, for some reason, I have a lot of that messy stuff (permanganate) around.
So what would happen, presumebly, if I had some sitting around in my tree house? (I actually don't, I only make the flash powder that I use, anything extra is either found a use or destroyed in a proper manner) so don't worry about me... Just making sure none of my mortors will go off in a storage durantion of a day or two. :unsure:
When one plays with fire, one is bound to get burndt.

#14 BigG

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Posted 11 June 2004 - 06:36 AM

I'm not sure that I really hear those questions... You mean you don't lock up your flash powder?!?! Or do you have a tree house with a door?

Things don't just ignite sittting on a shelf for two days. All we are saying that flash is very sensetive and if someone decide to go up your tree house and have a play, then he might flatten both himself and your treehouse.

It should also be store in a cool dry play as weather can effect performance and cuase all sort of unexpected things.

#15 Chaz

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Posted 11 June 2004 - 10:21 PM

I have had great success with KNO3/Mg flash, but nothing else. Its incredibly easy to make, just weigh them out in a 50/50 ratio, dry mix them until properly mixed and its ready to go!

In true 'Chaz' style heres a small pile of my KNO3/Mg flash: HERE.


...Great stuff. :)




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