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White Gold star (willow variant)


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Hey everyone, this is my first real post here. Been lurking in the shadows for a while and finally decided to make a profile as I get deeper into this lovely sport hobby. I think there's a lot of great info here and I've already learned so much, but it's clear I still have a lifetime of learning ahead. Looking forward to being able to contribute more as I learn more. That being said, here's my first attempt at contributing. :)


I was fooling around with Lancaster Gold Star "B" (willow) and loved the results and wanted to modify it.


Originally the formula is:


KNO3 - 53.50

Charcoal - 31.00 (150 mesh)

SGRS - 9.00 (I use dextrin)

Sulfur - 6.50


So I wanted to add some white to it and use up some of the comp I have sitting around.


KNO3 - 50

Charcoal - 20 (150 mesh)

Dark Aluminum - 15

Dextrin - 8

Sb2S3 - 7 (-325 mesh)


I reduced the potassium a touch because I know the Aluminum will burn hotter and faster. Antimony was substituted for sulfur because I thought it might add more to the 'white' effect than sulfur while still maintaining sulfur's lower ignition benefits.


Ball mill the Nitrate, Charcoal, and Dextrin for 30 minutes to 1 hour, then add Aluminum and Antimony. Nitrate was already blade milled prior to milling. Bind with 50/50 ethanol/water, Cut stars.


The effect I got was a "white gold" color with lots of fine white sparks and a golden aura. They lit fairly easy and had a medium burn time. I have a short video of a line of them burning on the ground, but not many of the sparks were captured, just the white gold color. They're like a cross between a willow and a sparkler IMO.


And just for the sake of safety: I realize this comp contains aluminum and nitrate and is being wet with water. The aluminum I used was stearin coated and also the stars were in a safe place out of direct sunlight until they were dry. I did not experience any heating or ammonia smell whatsoever. I'm getting boric acid tomorrow actually, and will likely include 1 or 2 percent.


I'm sure adjusting the size of the aluminum and antimony will change up the effect a bit, but this seems like a great simple formula to play with for now.


Hopefully this isn't a repeat of another formula, and I'm sure there's plenty of ways to achieve a similar effect, but figured it couldn't hurt to share! Thanks!



Edited by PhoenixRising
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Shaun, the substitutions seem pretty reasonable. Which type of dark aluminum do you have? There are two varieties out there. One is sold as a -325 mesh flake (US 809, or Eckhart 10890), while the other is single micron flake intended for flash. The latter is also often called blackhead, german or indian dark/blackhead, 000 Aluminum, or 5413-H Super. If you wanted to improve the spark production, you may want to look into a coarser aluminum such as the -325 mesh stuff if you're not already using it, or even bright flakes or atomized varities. At some point it may become more of a glitter than a streamer though.


You will probably be able to better judge the effect by viewing it in the air. Many of these type of compositions rely on atmospheric oxygen for part of their tail or effect.

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Thanks for the input! I think you are going exactly where I want to be with the glitter.


Aluminum is Eckart 5413 H. It's all I have until tomorrow when I get some 30-80 mesh atom. aluminum tomorrow, along with coarse titanium. (Hobby Chem. has them both cheap right now). Admittedly it's leftover comp from a couple years ago when I was a little more immature and impulsive. Lately I've started to appreciate everything else about fireworking that doesn't include flash.


I do believe my next purchase is to get Winokur 39 (j) in working order. A Youtube vid by Ned G. of a win39 cake (old vid) has got me mesmerised with the nice flaky, floaty little glitters and dust. Subtle red tinge.... I must have it! :)


Last couple nights I can actually take unprimed willow stars and light them with a punk and throw them in the air. It's actually pretty safe and a lot of fun. (flattish-square star, hold one corner light the other). I'll make a star gun soon, already have a bit of granulated BP for lift. My current Douglas Fir charcoal makes 'okay' sparks, but I know they could be better. Just realized I'm surrounded by 20 miles of yellow pine.


My apologies for not posting a vid of the comp, I got excited to share. I prematurely .. umm.... shared... yeah.. But will definitely only share comps when I have a video or pic in the future. I also realize white-gold is probably one of the easiest effects to achieve, but seems like a good starting point.


I'll make another batch of this comp and get vid of some in the air.

Edited by PhoenixRising
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Here's a quick vid of my attempt at the Lancaster B willow. These are unprimed and just being lit with a punk. I know, not the safest thing in the world but really a singed finger is the worst that could happen. I'd never do this with a primed star or one of different shape.


The charcoal is fir, made from my Christmas tree a couple years ago. I believe it's Douglas Fir that Home Depot sells during Christmas. It crushes up to airfloat with just a hammer handle in a plastic bucket. While pretty good for lift, I'm not sure it's the greatest for spark production. Going to try yellow pine this weekend and start documenting my results.


Also, the charcoal I used is a mix of airfloat and coarse particles. I don't have access to pure 150 mesh at the moment, so I just use what coarse stuff I have from breaking it up and passing through a strainer.


And just for fun, here's another quick vid of a small "spolette" type steel fountain. No nozzle.

Mix for a 3 gram batch was:

Meal powder (75/15/10) - 1.5 grams

Coarse steel grains (high carbon) - 1.0 grams

Coarse charcoal - 0.5 grams



I get my steel from grinding at home for projects.


Got a batch of the "white gold" ready in a few days or so and will upload a vid of those stars as well as a mine or stargun shortly.

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I know this isn't exactly a willow anymore, but I played with the recipe some more and shot 25 grams of stars out of a mine twice yesterday, with nice results. Admittedly these were my first successful mines as the first attempt months ago was not nitrate based, and didn't make it out of the tube...... ... Aaaanyway, here's the recipe now. :)




KNO3 - 50 (blade milled)

C - 20 (mixed)

Al - 15 (Eckart 5413)

Dextrin - 8

Sb2S3 - 7 (-325 mesh)


+10 Aluminum (30 - 80 mesh Atomized 'breaking glass')

+ 2 Boric Acid


Nitrate, Dextrin, and Charcoal were milled for 30 minutes only this time. Boric acid was not milled and remained granular, although I will mill it next time. Pressed with just enough water to make it stick together good, 15 grams of 50/50 ethanol/water. I use a 'ceiling tile light grate' to cut my stars (I'm not sure what the thing is actually called but here's a pic of a piece.) Simply pour the comp into the screen and press down with your body weight, scrape the excess off and repeat until the stars won't take anymore, then just lightly tap the screen and they fall right out! (pending you didn't use too much moisture). Not sure if anyone's done this before but it's all I had lying around to use, seems like it works okay so far.




For some reason these stars did not exhibit the white characteristics of the original formula I did. My reasoning is that this comp is now very fuel rich with metal and charcoal but very low sensitizers. The result is that the fine paint-grade Eckart 5413 is coating the coarse charcoal and nitrate and only getting glowing orange hot, not becoming fully white. It essentially makes the charcoal glow brighter and with a bit of twinkle. The coarser aluminum, however, does not suffer as much as it does not mingle so intimately with the other coarse stuff, and falls out and lights up on it's on, producing a bit of white. Most glitter comps use a delay agent or slower oxidizer, but in this case the extra 10 percent charcoal seems to be the delay. (lots of glitter comps only have 10 percent charcoal it seems, whereas this one has 20).


Feel like I'm missing something but I guess that's all for now. I did make a glitter comp last night that's drying and might make a new thread for it soon.




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