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quiet fireworks help ideas

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#1 Squke

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Posted 10 April 2020 - 09:38 PM

I'm a young pyro (14) that lives within the United States, and I would like to know if anyone has any ideas on fireworks that could be used in a small residential neighborhood that would not make any loud noises. I live outside of city limits and the discharge of pyrotechnics are legal within my neighborhood. I define "loud noise" as anything louder than a small mine's lift charge going off. I also define "small mine" as a mine that uses about 1 gram of black powder for the lift. It's not that I couldn't make something decently loud. In fact, I have made some decently loud things before. It's not that I fear the neighbors calling the police because of noise, it is because I care for the peace of the neighborhood, and I do not want to annoy anyone in the slightest. I would like to hear anyone's suggestions for fireworks I could make. I have a decent variety of chemicals, and if anyone would like to see a list of all of them I could make it. I'm basically just asking for some suggestions for specific devices to make, and the compositions required to make them. If you are concerned for my safety precautions and measures it is understandable. This is one of my first posts and I said I was 14, so if you are concerned it makes sense. Just know that I'm responsible and careful when handling all pyrotechnics to the best of my abilities. So, in conclusion, if you have any cool compositions I would like to see them. Thanks in advance for any responses!

 

Some of my fastest black powder ever (1 gram).  Attached File  IMG_7165.MOV   39MB   29 downloads

 

 

 

 


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#2 Mumbles

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Posted 10 April 2020 - 09:59 PM

You may want to consider fountains or wheels.  They tend to be fairly quiet and not attract quite as much attention.  Expanding them into wheels is a pretty logical progression. There are a lot of good formulas, but it largely tends to be up to personal preference.  I included a couple of examples below.  The ones with meal powder have a stronger thrust and higher spray.  They tend to be a bit better suited to drivers for wheels as well for this same reason.  The ones without or with less give a bushier spray.  

 

KNO3 - 60

Charcoal - 10

Sulfur - 10

Metal of choice - 20

 

Meal powder - 70

KNO3 - 7

Charcoal - 7

Metal - 16

 

Meal - 33

Charcoal - 33

KNO3 - 17

Metal - 17


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#3 Squke

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Posted 10 April 2020 - 10:06 PM

Thank you for the response Mumbles. If I were to get one coarse metal, which would you suggest for these? I could get titanium, aluminum, ferrotitanium, magnalium, or a couple others. I only have the money to pick one of them right now, and I want to know which would look the best in your opinion, and which would be the most versatile to use in other things, such as stars. If you respond to this also recommend an approximate mesh size of the metal. I will definitely try making a wheel once I get a coarse metal though. The only metal I have now is ultra fine, so it won't work for a driver. 

 

Also another question, how could I make tubes that would work well for this? I don't have any tubes right now that are large enough for gerbs, so I would have to make them. I do have a 3/4" wooden dowel to roll them on though. Would standard printer paper with some diluted school glue on it form a strong enough tube to withstand the pressures of these gerbs? 


Edited by Squke, 10 April 2020 - 10:09 PM.


#4 Mumbles

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Posted 10 April 2020 - 11:41 PM

Titanium is probably my the most popular choice.  The white sparks make a nice blend with orange charcoal sparks.  It's pretty versatile as well.  It makes very nice comets, stars, etc.  Something generally in the 30-100 mesh range is pretty good for most applications.  

 

Ferrotitanium isn't my personal favorite.  It doesn't stand out well enough in my opinion.  I'd go iron or steel before that.  Coarse MgAl makes an interesting almost sizzling effect.  As a dark horse suggestion, coarse flake aluminum is beautiful.  The sparks kind of flutter down.  It's a very underused component in my opinion.  It makes beautiful comets as well.  

 

Hand rolling tubes is perfectly fine for these.  Gerbs don't produce nearly as much pressure as rockets.  The biggest issue tends to be burn through near the nozzle.    You probably will want to wrap a couple of layers of clear packing tape over the dowel.  It will help the tube come off and make the tube slightly wider.  Tubes shrink a little bit when they dry.  You wont be able to fit the dowel back in afterwards to ram any fountains if you don't enlarge the former a little bit.  Alternatively, you could sand a different dowel down a little bit.  I'd suggest using something a little stronger than computer paper.  It's not perfect, but even something like paper grocery bags would work.  You can buy brown wrapping paper at most hardware stores or big box stores that would work well.  My personal choice would be using manila file folders.  They make extremely strong tubes, and are a little thicker so they roll up faster.  Use a couple turns of normal kraft paper on the outside to hold everything together.  


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#5 Squke

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Posted 11 April 2020 - 12:13 AM

Thank you for all of the good advice. I think that I will most likely go with the titanium. I'll try to find some manila file folders around the house to roll some tubes. If I can't find any I'll probably just use some thick cardstock that I have. I have a question regarding the construction of the gerbs. In creating the above mentioned compositions would you shortly mill the chemicals together, or would you just make sure they were fine and screen mix them? Also, what type of charcoal would be the best? Standard commercial mixed hardwood airfloat, or something more hot, like my ERC charcoal? 



#6 Mumbles

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Posted 11 April 2020 - 10:58 AM

You can mill if you like, but it's not necessary.  If your chemicals are already fairly fine, you can get by with just screening.  Milling will speed it up a bit as I'm sure you know.  Up to your own preferences.  I'd start with just screened and go from there.  The compositions with meal get around this by being generally hotter due to it being milled already.

 

For charcoal, I wouldn't use anything fancy.  Commercial airfloat is fine.  You can also experiment with adding in coarser charcoal to increase the sparks.  There are compositions around with just nitrate, sulfur, and charcoal if you wanted to start there.  I've used this one with good success: http://www.pyrodb.org/composition.php5/76 If you're worried about sparks hitting the ground or for smaller devices, you can use a finer charcoal like 80 mesh for the coarse component.  Those mesh sizes are what are commercially available, but ground up charcoal works great too.  Even something like crushed briquettes work and actually gives a nicer effect in some ways.


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#7 Squke

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Posted 11 April 2020 - 12:26 PM

Okay, so I will probably start with the composition you mentioned before,

 

"KNO3 - 60

Charcoal - 10

Sulfur - 10

Metal of choice - 20"

 

and for the metal I will use the titanium sponge -20+80 that I just ordered. I will probably just mill the non-metal chemicals for about 30 minutes instead of screening. I just made a 3/4" ID tube out of thick cardstock. I didn't use any glue to make it though. I just used a little bit of tape to secure each piece of paper on. I also rammed a bentonite plug into it to sort of hold the paper layers together. It should work fine. It will probably be at least 4 days until my titanium arrives. I'll put a video on this thread of the first titanium gerb I make. Also, I forgot to ask this, my gerb tooling is wooden, and I made it myself. Is it fine to ram titanium gerbs with wooden tooling? I don't want to risk an accidental ignition. I have heard that titanium sensitizes black powder compositions. I'm just trying to be "safe". 



#8 SharkWhisperer

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Posted 12 April 2020 - 10:49 AM

Okay, so I will probably start with the composition you mentioned before,

 

"KNO3 - 60

Charcoal - 10

Sulfur - 10

Metal of choice - 20"

 

and for the metal I will use the titanium sponge -20+80 that I just ordered. I will probably just mill the non-metal chemicals for about 30 minutes instead of screening. I just made a 3/4" ID tube out of thick cardstock. I didn't use any glue to make it though. I just used a little bit of tape to secure each piece of paper on. I also rammed a bentonite plug into it to sort of hold the paper layers together. It should work fine. It will probably be at least 4 days until my titanium arrives. I'll put a video on this thread of the first titanium gerb I make. Also, I forgot to ask this, my gerb tooling is wooden, and I made it myself. Is it fine to ram titanium gerbs with wooden tooling? I don't want to risk an accidental ignition. I have heard that titanium sensitizes black powder compositions. I'm just trying to be "safe". 

The danger with ramming metals is spark formation, particularly with metal tooling. Is your titanium sponge or spherical??? Sponge is much more likely to spark than spherical (sharp edges and larger surface area). Gerbs in general, do not necessarily need to be pressed with the forces used to press/ram rockets etc. Oftentimes you can get away with hand pressing them (no hammer) and getting good results. The nozzle still needs to be rammed hard to maintain structure during the burn. A CATO with Ti in a slow BP based gerb will not be any more brisant but will definitely be much more incendiary with lit high-temp sparks flying everywhere. That means extra caution with your PPE, particularly if you enjoy using your arms. I've hand-pressed slower gerb comps containing sponge Ti, and gently hand rammed comps with sperical Ti, but you need to appreciate the additional risk you are exposing yourself to. Suggest you start small, keep it with wood only tooling if using metals in your mix--especially hard sparky sponge Ti, and wear full protection including glasses and also a facemask, and heavy leather gloves. Unlikely hand pressing (no more than your body weight) will result in issues, but that is not a guarantee and you need to prepare for any eventuality. Have a hose or 5 gallon buckets of water nearby. Perhaps buckets of sand. Fire extinguisher. And definitely do not have a tub of open comp sitting anywhere near your construction station. Paper endcaps instead of a rammed clay bulkhead on the top increment (bottom of gerb) might suffice for retention--you really don't need the pressures and compaction with (most) gerbs that you do for motors.

 

Others' opinions?



#9 Squke

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Posted 12 April 2020 - 12:39 PM

The danger with ramming metals is spark formation, particularly with metal tooling. Is your titanium sponge or spherical??? Sponge is much more likely to spark than spherical (sharp edges and larger surface area). Gerbs in general, do not necessarily need to be pressed with the forces used to press/ram rockets etc. Oftentimes you can get away with hand pressing them (no hammer) and getting good results. The nozzle still needs to be rammed hard to maintain structure during the burn. A CATO with Ti in a slow BP based gerb will not be any more brisant but will definitely be much more incendiary with lit high-temp sparks flying everywhere. That means extra caution with your PPE, particularly if you enjoy using your arms. I've hand-pressed slower gerb comps containing sponge Ti, and gently hand rammed comps with sperical Ti, but you need to appreciate the additional risk you are exposing yourself to. Suggest you start small, keep it with wood only tooling if using metals in your mix--especially hard sparky sponge Ti, and wear full protection including glasses and also a facemask, and heavy leather gloves. Unlikely hand pressing (no more than your body weight) will result in issues, but that is not a guarantee and you need to prepare for any eventuality. Have a hose or 5 gallon buckets of water nearby. Perhaps buckets of sand. Fire extinguisher. And definitely do not have a tub of open comp sitting anywhere near your construction station. Paper endcaps instead of a rammed clay bulkhead on the top increment (bottom of gerb) might suffice for retention--you really don't need the pressures and compaction with (most) gerbs that you do for motors.

 

Others' opinions?

Well, after reading this, I don't think I will be making a titanium gerb. I don't have a full face shield or heavy leather gloves. I do have goggles, cotton clothing, a respirator, and decently thick gloves, but from what you said that doesn't seem like enough protection. I most definitely do not think it is worth a 20 second shower of sparks to risk severe burns or possibly even worse. I certainly like using my arms. When my titanium comes I will only be making cut stars with it. Thanks for the advice. I could have done something dangerous without this response. 

 

I can still cancel my order with the titanium, and I think I will. I can still make charcoal gerbs. I will just order more BP chemicals, mostly KNO3. The possibilities with BP chemicals are almost limitless, and the stability is reliable. 

 

Update: I cancelled the order for the titanium.


Edited by Squke, 12 April 2020 - 01:54 PM.

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#10 Mumbles

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Posted 12 April 2020 - 02:41 PM

This is definitely a topic that you'll get different opinions on.  Charcoal gerbs can be rammed without issue.  Aluminum, especially coarse flake, is also fairly safe.  Aluminum is non-sparking, and flake is quite soft and malleable.  I wouldn't be overly concerned about MgAl either. 

 

Steel, iron, and titanium can raise some concerns.  Some people are uneasy by the idea of hand ramming compositions containing metals in general.  Some people feel confident doing it.  I apologize, I should have mentioned this earlier.  Some people draw the line at an arbitrary metal content percentage like 15% or so, since they feel the lower quantity of metal reduces the risk sufficiently.  If you're uncomfortable, pressing is best.  An arbor press tends to be fairly inexpensive and fast.  

 

Hand pressing is an option up to a point.  At 3/4" ID, that might start to be pushing it.  To get enough body weight onto it, you may need to be a larger individual.  It never hurts to try of course.  

 

On a personal level, hand ramming some of the metal containing compositions mentioned above would make me a little nervous.  This is something I sort of overlooked.  I typically stick to lower levels of titanium and sparking metals, so I don't worry about it quite as much.

 

I would agree with most of the PPE mentioned above.  The most effective PPE is ones that you will actually wear, and will work for you.  I'd look into leather work gloves in addition to normal rubber gloves for weighing and mixing.  I do wear leather gloves while making inserts and gerbs.  You have to make sure they're comfortable and don't interfere with your dexterity to make working cumbersome.  Something extremely thick, like for welding is probably the best and safest, but also tends to be harder to work with.  That to me is a recipe to forget or get lax.  


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#11 Squke

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Posted 12 April 2020 - 04:14 PM

Well, it sounds like I picked about the worst metal to ram in a gerb. Good thing I cancelled the order. It sounds like 20% sponge titanium compositions and hand ramming don't go together well. That is what I would have done without the advice from this thread, so I'm glad that I started it. I guess for now I will either make charcoal gerbs or aluminum gerbs. I don't have any coarse aluminum though, but I do have some marbles, a rock tumbler, and aluminum foil. Actually, forget that idea. It is extremely inefficient and my mom doesn't want me taking anymore aluminum foil. It can also create some glass contamination and increase sensitivity in compositions. Also, the marbles I have can spark. I do use lead media to mill BP. Just so you don't think I use marbles.  I will just have to buy some coarse aluminum if I want it. Would this aluminum be good for gerbs and stars (https://fireworkscoo...uminum-firefly/)? 

 

Is it possible to use Eckart 10890 aluminum for a spark effect in a gerb, or would it just boost the BP into something like "slow" flash and explode? I won't try it unless I get some feedback.



#12 SharkWhisperer

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Posted 12 April 2020 - 05:18 PM

The K101 you cited are large particles, safe to ram, but slow to burn out--gotta be careful they don't reach the ground if it's flammable grass in your midst. 10890 is a way smaller mesh (folks, correct me...<200 mesh, no?), useful for much (tails, etc; tho others will have other suggestions), but probably not large sparks. It'll sure burn mean, though, added to BP comps, and is relatively safe to hand ram.

 

Not to be "overly" conscientious, but you are a younger new pyro, without side-by-side mentoring that an online forum cannot replace. So, protect your hands. Protect your eyes. BP is not flash, but warrants sufficient caution by itself before you start adding hot-burning metals--any.

 

Ti is good stuff. Don't start with sponge. Sponge is half or less the density and sharper edges and has a tendency to spark. It's fun stuff, but for the appropriate purposes and methods. Get some spherical from Phil at ihaveadotcom.com . It's good stuff but of varied size, so you might want to screen-separate it down to whatever size ranges you wanted. I feel safe hand-ramming spherical Ti in BP mixes for gerbs (and rockets). Even with metal tooling.

 

Making consistent Al from foil will not only piss off your Mom, but also result in irregular, unpredictable results early on, and take a lot of work to get a little return. For Al sparkies, the K101 or K102 from FWC are a good place to start. Or some of his larger (if in stock) MgAl (anywhere between 20-100 mesh perhaps). MgAl hisses and crackles as it burns, which is an added bonus. It's also more brittle than either starting metal and can damage tooling.

 

The K101 is a good start, and cheap. Buy a pound of MgAl, too, and spend the extra buck or so for shipping, perhaps...

 

Again. Others' opinions? Better suggestions?


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#13 Squke

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Posted 12 April 2020 - 06:08 PM

I'm glad that you are not treating me like a retard, but telling me proper safety procedures and possible dangers. 

 

Well, you suggested to buy the K-101 and a pound of MgAl, and to "spend the extra buck" on the shipping. I simply do not have the money to do that. I only have $30. I can't even get a job now for legal reasons and for time constraints with school. I could wait months to possibly get more money for a bigger order, but I really want to do stuff as soon as possible. I'm really unsure what to do at this point. I could get 1 metal that is about $15 from FWCB with the $15 shipping as I was going to do with the titanium, but that really does seem like a waste of money to spend the same amount of money on shipping as the product. I don't know of any other pyrotechnic chemical companies that have cheaper shipping. I won't be milling Al foil for the reasons I already stated. I may try a very small gerb with the 10890 Al just to see what happens. I checked out the spherical titanium that Phil has, but he states in the description that it contains very small amounts of sponge titanium, which you said has the highest risk of sparking. I don't think I will be getting any titanium period. I think the aluminum and magnalium sounds like a good idea, but as I said, I just don't have much money and don't have many viable options to get money. Especially with the COVID-19 pandemic. 

 

If you have any good suggestions as to what I could get for less than $30, that doesn't seem like a waste, I would be happy to see it.


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#14 SharkWhisperer

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Posted 13 April 2020 - 01:25 PM

I'm glad that you are not treating me like a retard, but telling me proper safety procedures and possible dangers. 

 

Well, you suggested to buy the K-101 and a pound of MgAl, and to "spend the extra buck" on the shipping. I simply do not have the money to do that. I only have $30. I can't even get a job now for legal reasons and for time constraints with school. I could wait months to possibly get more money for a bigger order, but I really want to do stuff as soon as possible. I'm really unsure what to do at this point. I could get 1 metal that is about $15 from FWCB with the $15 shipping as I was going to do with the titanium, but that really does seem like a waste of money to spend the same amount of money on shipping as the product. I don't know of any other pyrotechnic chemical companies that have cheaper shipping. I won't be milling Al foil for the reasons I already stated. I may try a very small gerb with the 10890 Al just to see what happens. I checked out the spherical titanium that Phil has, but he states in the description that it contains very small amounts of sponge titanium, which you said has the highest risk of sparking. I don't think I will be getting any titanium period. I think the aluminum and magnalium sounds like a good idea, but as I said, I just don't have much money and don't have many viable options to get money. Especially with the COVID-19 pandemic. 

 

If you have any good suggestions as to what I could get for less than $30, that doesn't seem like a waste, I would be happy to see it.

Just seems like a bit of a waste to spend the item price on shipping, particularly when chem shipping isn't all that cheap to begin with. Start saving up some money; metals are nice but you can get some really impressive sparks out of coarser charcoal added to your gerb mix for some pretty spectacular fountains. It's always cheaper to make combined purchases versus one or two items in various orders. Skylighter is the most expensive. Firefox will never send you what you order. Fireworks cookbook and select others are reliable as hell and have fair pricing. OR, focus for now (while saving up loot) on mastering BP for now--it's an essential skill, and useful for 80% of all things pyro.

 

PM me, and, with your parent's express and verifiable directly provided written permission, perhaps I can send you some small quantities of safer metals to test out.



#15 Squke

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Posted 13 April 2020 - 02:33 PM

I think for now I will just have to hope I can get more money. My parents are not allowing me to have you send us stuff. We don't have a P.O. box either. I have already "mastered" BP to some extent. I've made black powder fast enough for any uses I would ever need. I'm assuming you saw my video at the start of this thread. It's pretty fast. I can make BP that fast consistently without fail.

 

There aren't any other options for you to get metal to me without me giving out my address, which I'm not doing. You obviously want to help me, but not to the level where you would just give me money to buy metal. You just wanted to send small quantities of safer metals for me to experiment with. I really appreciate the offer, but sadly my parents won't allow it. 

 

The only other thing I can possibly think of is you emailing me a gift card code for FWCB. They have an option on their site where you can email anyone a gift card. My parents would certainly allow that, and I can't go spend the money on anything besides fireworks chemicals. 

 

If you even slightly consider this, which you surely in all possible ways don't have to even consider it, just PM me. 

 

I think for now I will just make charcoal gerbs and other fireworks safe for use where I live. 

 

Thanks for all of the advice and information that I have gotten from this thread. I will definitely be referring back to this thread later on when I get money. 


Edited by Squke, 13 April 2020 - 02:34 PM.


#16 pyrokid

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Posted 13 April 2020 - 06:27 PM

Buy some glitter aluminum and then steal some baking soda from your mom and make glitter gerbs. That's some real bang for your buck right there. Glitter spritzels are an amazing phenomenon. Find a pyrotechnics club in your area and I bet you'll find that your dollars go further.

#17 Squke

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Posted 13 April 2020 - 06:37 PM

There aren't any pyroclubs in my area that I know of. I guess I can buy some glitter aluminum and steal some baking soda from my mom though. What is the composition for the glitter gerb?

 

Can you send a link to a video of one of these glitter gerbs? 


Edited by Squke, 13 April 2020 - 06:39 PM.


#18 cevmarauder

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Posted 13 April 2020 - 09:47 PM

On the "tube" front: Lowes/Home Despot sell thick "Builder's Paper" that is really strong and good for making tubes.  I use it for making canister shells since non-recycled kraft is hard to come by and expensive to order online.  It's fairly cheap for a roll of it ($13) and you'll get a lot of tubes out of it. 

Personally, hand ramming spherical titanium doesn't bother me, but I'm old and ugly, anyway.  I'm really glad to see someone as young as yourself being smart about the hobby, asking questions, and doing things safely.

You could also make strobes and bengal flares, as you expand your collection of chemicals.  Just build your supply of chems and tools slowly, as you need them.  .50 cal lead balls with antimony are fairly cheap on eBay, and you can make very impressive tiger tail stars for small mines with just basic black powder ingredients; I make very small (1" tube) mines that are quiet and beautiful.


Edited by cevmarauder, 13 April 2020 - 09:49 PM.


#19 Squke

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Posted 14 April 2020 - 09:21 AM

I already have .50 caliber lead balls. They aren't antimony hardened, but they haven't seemed to wear away much after milling a good amount of black powder and star compositions. I have made tiger tail star mines that worked really well. I've also made C6 mines. I have made some gerbs also without great success on most of them. I have made one good charcoal spark gerb though. I have also made 1" ball shells before that worked well. I also made a bottle rocket that flew super straight and high. It didn't have anything besides a lift. No stars or burst on it. I really just need some metal for different stars and gerbs. I think I'll just buy 1lb of K-101 firefly aluminum, and possibly 1lb of coarse magnalium. I'll need some more money though. I'll be getting some more soon though. Thanks for the advice. 



#20 SharkWhisperer

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Posted 14 April 2020 - 12:14 PM

I think for now I will just have to hope I can get more money. My parents are not allowing me to have you send us stuff. We don't have a P.O. box either. I have already "mastered" BP to some extent. I've made black powder fast enough for any uses I would ever need. I'm assuming you saw my video at the start of this thread. It's pretty fast. I can make BP that fast consistently without fail.

 

There aren't any other options for you to get metal to me without me giving out my address, which I'm not doing. You obviously want to help me, but not to the level where you would just give me money to buy metal. You just wanted to send small quantities of safer metals for me to experiment with. I really appreciate the offer, but sadly my parents won't allow it. 

 

The only other thing I can possibly think of is you emailing me a gift card code for FWCB. They have an option on their site where you can email anyone a gift card. My parents would certainly allow that, and I can't go spend the money on anything besides fireworks chemicals. 

 

If you even slightly consider this, which you surely in all possible ways don't have to even consider it, just PM me. 

 

I think for now I will just make charcoal gerbs and other fireworks safe for use where I live. 

 

Thanks for all of the advice and information that I have gotten from this thread. I will definitely be referring back to this thread later on when I get money. 

Bwahh hah hah hah hah!

 

Kiddo, fully appreciate your parents stance, and "no thanks" is a perfectly acceptable answer.

 

But that was an exceptionally ballsy proposition to suggest buying you a gift card from FWC, bwah hah hah!!! Sorry, amigo, but that's a request for your grandparents around your birthday or Xmas, perhaps.

 

Ho ho ho ho ho, o'migosh, bwahhhh. SEND MONEY? Nah, not likely. Fiscal donations go to the local food pantries and hospitals. Spare chems I share with fellow pyros. My wallet--uh....no.

 

Keep working though; sounds like you're making some progress.

 

And keep it safe.







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