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Recommendation for "Beginners kit" of most common materials


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Since I'm building a list of locally unavailable things to order, I was hoping if you could help me compile "starters kit" of ingredients. Preferably where ingredients overlap between compositions.


Also, while currently I'm messing with rockets, but since I have a 3" tube, maybe for starters, it's better to work with shells?


First, it seems that much cheaper and locally I can get the following:

  • Safety gear (already have most of it), Wood dowels - parts for DIY tools.
  • Charcoal,
  • Sulphur,
  • KNO3,
  • Bentonite (Cat litter - kinda brownish when milled, but seems to stick well when pressed),
  • I've seen hemp wick on sale,
  • Probably can get Iron/Steel shavings somewhere,
  • Copper Hydroxide (Blue) (I think they have this for gardening, This works with KNO3 +fuel)?


This makes me think I should order the following things (not available, or expensive here):

  • Visco fuse,
  • Bickford (timing / delay) fuse,
  • Dextrin (seems to be used everywhere),
  • Ti shavings (I see it in a lot of stuff and simply like pure, bright white fireworks),
  • Gum tape.
  • Shell hemispheres or rocket tooling? I guess shells would work out cheaper. What are rocket advantages (besides obvious mortar-less operation)?

Now what kind of metal salts can provide most color combos, since it's additive mixing (light source, screen), I’m guessing something RGB?

What do they use for fuel (AFAIK most are nitrates / oxides themselves)?

  • Strontium nitrate (Red), Barium nitrate (Green)


I'm thinking of ordering from here: http://pyrogarage.pl/chemicals.htm so I’d prefer if I could get everything from one supplier.

Maybe you know someone in EU that sell kits?


Also which of the chemicals are consumed the fastest and are worth ordering wholesale? I'm thinking getting a roll of kraft paper and large KNO3 bag might be economic.


Edit: Expanded thread title, trimmed useless text.

Edited by deer
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For chemicals if you start with KNO3, Charcoal, Sulfur, Dextrin, Atomized Aluminum, Spherical Ti, and FeTi you can make a large amount of stars, rockets and gerbs.


Color gets more complicated and it is not as simple as addiditve RGB coloring.


The advantage of rockets is you get to fly a rocket! It is like two effects for one device.

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A couple additions:


Nater is right, rockets are awesome: a lot of effect for not a lot of components. They can be tricky to get working for the beginner though.


If you add baking soda NaHCO3 to the list that nater provided, you can make glitter stars as well.


It is possible to make dextrin yourself by cooking cornstarch. I haven't tried this, but many have. http://www.amateurpyro.com/forums/topic/8973-making-dextrin/


You don't need hemispheres to make shells. Canister shells are cool too.


Buy the KNO3 and sulfur in bulk. Charcoal can be homemade for very cheap or free.


If you have the capability to make red and green stars, you can make yellow ones too, by mixing the red and green. Purple is made from red and blue.

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Determine which items you want to build and list all of the tools and materials you will need.

Making quality BP should be first on your list, a ball mill and lead media should be on your list

along with a set of screens to run your chemicals through when mixing comps. You can get by on a small

hobby ball mill when starting out.

You will go through larger amounts of oxidizers so purchase your nitrates and perchlorates in bulk.

If you calculate your formula's for lift charge, burst charge, stars, etc. you can estimate how much

you should order based on the items you intend to build the first year.

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I understand your question was about which 'ingredients' or chemicals to buy. KNO3, Charcoal and Sulfur for sure are at the top of the list.


Then after you have those basics, I think the next thing you should spend your money on would be a ball mill, proper media for it, then screens.


If you cannot make decent BP to get a rocket to fly, or lift a shell, the money spent on chems to make stars is just wasted.


mikeee's reply got up before mine, we both agree as to what to purchase first. 2 heads are better than 1 they say...


+1 on the PPE, or safety gear already on hand, wise choice there!

Edited by Shunt
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What set of screens are good to have? I already have #400 mesh and basic kitchen sieve with approx. 1mm gaps.

Currently working on the mill. My main gripe is that it seems that most stars use per/clo's, e.g.: http://www.privatedata.com/byb/pyro/pfp/stars.html#White%20metallic

I'd like to stick to nitrate stars because of per/clo's legal status.

Do I need red gum, or I’ll be OK with Dextrin most of the time? AFAIK they both are just binders.


Basically I'd like to start out with some 3" charcoal chrysanthemum (I guess cylinders are easier), then maybe something brighter with tail, e.g.:



So it seems the chrysanthemum #6? composition lists:

55 Potassium Nitrate
33 Charcoal (airfloat)
7 Sulfur
5 SGRS (Dextrin can be substituted)



This means I need:

  • BP (and it's ingredients),
  • Kraft paper,
  • Brown degradable rope,
  • PVA Glue,
  • Dextrin (no corn starch around here either, I tried baking potato starch.. it kinda works but not sure if as expected),
  • Visco fuse,
  • Delay fuse,
  • Peppers (for rolling stars),
  • FeTi seems to be useful if I want to make brighter stars / streamers later.
  • Something cylindrical to wind the 3" shell on.

So, what have I forgotten? Anything that could easily add colour to the above ingredients?

availible locally / must be ordered from abroad


P.S. Somewhat off-topic, but still nooby - I tried some meal powder volcanoes and they just shoot smoke with small flame. Is it just because I tested them during day or maybe my ingredients were too fine (so no burning particles flying)?

Edited by deer
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@Deer don't overkill yourself. Start with some basic stuff to learn. When you want to buy all the chems you will endup with at least a € 2.000,- to the start not mentioned tooling like ballmill rockettooling case formers. Start with the devices which can be made with KNO3, S and C. This is what some guys befor me said aswell. When you live in europe you also have to be carefull for law enforcement. And I know I live there to!

Edited by Rocketier
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What we in the US call corn starch is commonly called cornflour in the UK and other countries. It's also called maizena in several other European countries and much of Latin America. This may help in finding it.


Your list looks fairly good. You may want to think about using spolettes instead of delay or time fuse if you have trouble finding it. They're quite simple to hand make.


Titanium or Ferrotitanium are nice, but not always needed. In the grand scheme of things, they're relatively limited in their use. If they're available, by all means go for it. I just wouldn't go out of my way to obtain them if I were re-starting. As others have mentioned, you may want to consider getting some atomized type aluminum for glitters and other effects. You can actually achieve quite a large number of effects with all the varieties of aluminum around. Another potential local source for metals is from machine shops. They'll have iron, steel, and aluminum most likely. Some may work with titanium too.


You're going to have some trouble with colors without any chlorate or perchlorates. There are some red and greens you can make from only strontium and barium nitrate respectively. You can also make yellows and oranges by mixing them. You'll have great difficulty with blue, purple, and a few others if you want to stick to only nitrates. If I were you, I'd focus on some of the simpler potassium nitrate based effects at first, and see what you can do about colors later on.

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Nitrates can make good colored stars; red, green, yellow, orange, lavender, blue-green (with zinc), and a few strobes can all be made without the need for potassium perchlorate.


Still, it is best to start with the basic BP chemicals and a few metals for different spark effects. These are stars are cheap, easy to make and forgiving to work with.


Red gum is a secondary fuel in a lot of colored stars. It also works as a binder, but the primary purpose in most compositions is a fuel. It can be substituted for Phenolic Resin.


If you can't find dextrin, SGRS (a type of rice starch) can be substituted.


A good former for 3" cylinder shells would be a full beer or soda can. Look for something cylinder shaped and solid with a 2.5" diameter.


Here are the screens I use: 4 and 20 mesh for grading BP. 12 mesh for granulating comps for pressing rockets and gerbs. 20 and 40 mesh for screen mixing comps.

Edited by nater
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For fuse, once you learn how to make BP, you can make a spolette. A spolette is a small tube, usually 5/16" - 3/8" ID with rammed increments of BP meal powder to serve as a time fuse. They have the advantage of spitting more fire than time fuse and being simple to make.
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I would buy atomized Al, flake Al (bright), some red iron oxide, maybe Ti, maybe antimony trisulfide (somewhat toxic, take care) and then you can make almost all streamers and glitter effects.

I would also buy the shell hemispheres, simply because I like the round shells and they use less chems. Hemi's aren't that expensive, and you'll learn pasting very quickly.


Colors are indeed the second step, because they are more expensive... Cheap TT stars are perfect to test shells with.


Also very nice PPE ! Good job !


As screens: 100 mesh (for screening comps) and 8 mesh (for fine pulverone, for lifting smaller shells).

These will get you started.

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If you are going to make colors don't forget about a chlorine donor such as parlor, saran, or PVC.


If you have Chinese markets that sell groceries you can likely find SGRS, soluble glutinous rice starch.


Also look for ceramic suppliers. They can have some useful chemicals if you find one that sells raw chemicals to make glazes with. Some even have bismuth trioxide that dragon eggs are made with so worth checking.


Red gum is not just a binder but also a fairly common fuel.


Look at the rubber stars that use barium and strontium nitrate and parlon. They are great colors and work well. You can see whatever chemicals are needed. Green can actually be a hard color to get working well and these make a nice green. They are also energetic enough you can make go getters or small colored 'bottle rockets' if you want to try them one day.


Maybe get some black copper oxide if you want to try blue stars or dragon eggs. Mg/Al will also be needed for DEs and the rubber stars. 200 mesh is a useful size for different things.


It wouldn't hurt to get a little perchlorate to have on hand if you don't mind getting some as it is used in a lot of things.

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BTW, if I mainly plan on using electric matches and remote control for ignition, do I actually need Visco (for delay's, passfires, etc) or I can get along just fine by using spolettes and DIY black-matches?

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Visco fuse is one of the most common fuses used on most fireworks items.

You will want some sort of general purpose fuse with reliable timing.

It will be difficult to use e-match for many items being built.

There are many types of fuses used in a variety of fireworks items.

Many applications utilize the fuse as a timing mechanism.

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Visco is very convenient and nice to have around the shop. I do like using it to handlight things like rockets and small items like gerbs.


I do not feel it is necessary though. I am comfortable hand lighting many things with exposed black match. One does need to be aware that black match can and will skip fire from time to time and your device may ignite much sooner than you planned. Should your device fail, you can be hurt or worse.


I am not fond of building an ematch into a device and storing or transporting it that way. When I plan on efiring something, I use a short piece of quick match and attach the ematch right before it is fired. Pretty much everything can be fired this way.


I assume if you cannot get visco you will not be able to get quick match either. Quick match is strands of black match which are piped in a small tube of kraft paper. It burns about 90 ft/second when piped, the exposed black match burns about 3 seconds per inch. Black match can be made with cotton twine and BP. Look for other threads on this if it is something you want to tackle.

Edited by nater
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