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Magic flash cotton as Nitrocellulose

Nitrocellulose

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#1 deepakpyro

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Posted 06 April 2021 - 07:51 AM

Hello

In our place the availability of nitrocellulose cotton is hard to get by. So i have seen some magic flash cotton in Amazon which is used by magician for flash during the trick and i have seen the base material is mentioned as Nitrocellulose.
Is that same as smokeless powder?. Can it be used for making NC laquer ?.


Suggestions welcome.

Edited by deepakpyro, 06 April 2021 - 10:42 AM.


#2 kingkama

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Posted 06 April 2021 - 10:21 AM

Is the base materiale of nc laquer, you can Make It your own, in YouTube Will find more of tutorial.

Edited by kingkama, 06 April 2021 - 10:24 AM.


#3 MadMat

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Posted 06 April 2021 - 01:08 PM

I would be skeptical of youtube "tutorials" some of them are just plain ridiculous or worse yet, dangerous. You can make NC lacquer from smokeless powder. I do it all the time. A few tips; dissolve the smokeless powder in acetone. It can take a while for it to dissolve, so be patient. Using smokeless powder for reloading shotgun shells dissolves a little faster because it is in flake form whereas rifle powder is in pellet form (shaped sort of like short pieces of pencil lead). A good choice is green dot double base powder. Double base powders contain a small percentage of nitroglycerine, which is actually beneficial for pyro work as it creates a more energetic flame and ignites a bit easier. This is especially beneficial when using your n/c lacquer as a binder for dragon egg or time rain microstars. If the source of smokeless powder you find asks $20 or more per pound, look somewhere else. that is just too expensive. This price is for the continental US, I don't know about other places in the world


Edited by MadMat, 06 April 2021 - 01:11 PM.


#4 kingkama

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Posted 06 April 2021 - 01:18 PM

I would be skeptical of youtube "tutorials" some of them are just plain ridiculous or worse yet, dangerous. You can make NC lacquer from smokeless powder. I do it all the time. A few tips; dissolve the smokeless powder in acetone. It can take a while for it to dissolve, so be patient. Using smokeless powder for reloading shotgun shells dissolves a little faster because it is in flake form whereas rifle powder is in pellet form (shaped sort of like short pieces of pencil lead). A good choice is green dot double base powder. Double base powders contain a small percentage of nitroglycerine, which is actually beneficial for pyro work as it creates a more energetic flame and ignites a bit easier. This is especially beneficial when using your n/c lacquer as a binder for dragon egg or time rain microstars. If the source of smokeless powder you find asks $20 or more per pound, look somewhere else. that is just too expensive. This price is for the continental US, I don't know about other places in the world

I do not think that buying the powder to refill the cartridges is viable for the writer, if he cannot buy the nitrocellulose lacquer, it will surely be more complex to buy powder.

#5 Mumbles

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Posted 06 April 2021 - 02:04 PM

I would strongly advise against trying to make large quantities of NC unless you're well trained by someone who knows what they're doing.  There aren't a lot of people out there who really have the expertise to do it safely and effectively.  Making 5-10g is an entirely different beast than making 100s of grams. 


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#6 SharkWhisperer

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Posted 06 April 2021 - 02:08 PM

Hello

In our place the availability of nitrocellulose cotton is hard to get by. So i have seen some magic flash cotton in Amazon which is used by magician for flash during the trick and i have seen the base material is mentioned as Nitrocellulose.
Is that same as smokeless powder?. Can it be used for making NC laquer ?.


Suggestions welcome.

It should work fine for NC lacquer, dissolved in acetone (usually) or MEK. The problem with using commercial flash paper/flash cotton, which is decently nitrated NC, is the cost per gram. Most NC lacquer is used at a 5% w/w concentration. Flash paper/cotton is usually pretty lightweight stuff, so you might not get a whole lot of lacquer for your money, but it would likely make very good lacquer. Chop the pieces up as small as possible--it might be difficult to get into solution. Even low concentration NC lacquers (<10% NC) are very viscous.

 

Also, Behlen's/Mohawk clear NC guitar lacquer has a decent amount of reasonably-nitrated NC (as good or better than ping pong balls) already dissolved in solvent, and can be purchased from Amazon for about $25/quart (in the US). Unsure price in India or if they'll ship there (flammable). Works fine, but also not exactly inexpensive. There's other solids in it besides NC, too, but it works well for DEs etc. https://www.amazon.c...,aps,100&sr=8-1

 

Be very careful of your purchase if you go the ping-pong ball route--IF you get actual celluloid (primarily dinitrate vs trinitrate) PP balls, they work for lacquer, are already stabilized by the camphor used in their manufacture, and make reasonable but not particularly ideal NC lacquer. They should have a distinct smell (more noticeable if you pierce them with a knife), and burn cleanly with a vigorous orange flame and essentially no smoke/residue. Many, many people end up buying newer PP balls that are not NC/celluloid but instead another plastic that burns like crap.

 

Homemade NC is not for newbies. Though not challenging, it is usually not suitably neutralized, chemically stabilized (NC wants to lose its nitrogen groups), and is not safe for long-term storage. It will degrade rather rapidly, and probably variably from batch-to-batch. In PP balls, the celluloid is the stabilizer. In smokeless firearm cartridge NC, diphenamine is often the stabilizer. I'm unsure if magician's flash paper contains any stabilizers, but I'd expect it probably does. Without stabilizer, I would not trust my NC lacquer stability, or the stability of any comp bound with it. I simply would not use it and expect good results. Typically, homemade NC is fun for amusement purposes but does not store safely. Store it wet if you go that route. Unstabilized, it'll release nitric oxides which form what when dissolved in water/atmospheric humidity?

 

Another lesser known source of pure and well-nitrated flash paper is from a molecular laboratory supply house, as electrophoresis blotting/transfer paper for western blotting, though that is reagent grade and expensive. But it burns like the dickens. Is sold in sheets or rolls. There are many other polymers used for lab electrotransfer paper, so you need to verify it is indeed NC--not difficult to do. Expensive.

 

If you could get your hands on some shotgun shells, probably easier to acquire than pistol ammo in India, that is about the best source for high-nitration, stabilized NC. And shotshell powder needs to be fast-burning, so is usually formed in flat wafers/disks that dissolve much much quicker than hard extruded propellant from, for example, large rifle rounds that need a slow burn to generate max pressures down a long barrel.


Edited by SharkWhisperer, 06 April 2021 - 02:36 PM.


#7 wyzard10

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Posted 06 April 2021 - 03:41 PM

The flash cotton is pure nitrocellulose.  I use it myself for making NC lacquer.  You have to get it from a reputable source because it needs to have all the acid neutralized.  I get it from a place called theatrefx based in kentucky.  They ship it by mail believe it or not.  They ship it wet and its perfectly safe.  Get yourself a lined quart paint can to store it in.  Let the cotton dry completely then mix your proportions in the can and let it set.  The cotton will dissolve completely in acetone so theres no need to worry about mek.  A batch will last a very long time and wont turn color.  If over time you need to thin it a bit just add a bit more acetone. PLEASE NOTE - Dry flash cotton will go up with the slightest spark or flame.



#8 kingkama

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Posted 07 April 2021 - 05:28 AM

just to publish the source, this is the nice tutorial I was talking about, for those who surely have imagined the use of fuming acids and flasks


#9 ronmoper76

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Posted 07 April 2021 - 09:39 AM

I would strongly advise against trying to make large quantities of NC unless you're well trained by someone who knows what they're doing.  There aren't a lot of people out there who really have the expertise to do it safely and effectively.  Making 5-10g is an entirely different beast than making 100s of grams. 

I have been curious for quite a while as i have read a dozen or so post where you have told others this. May i ask why? I obviously have no chemistry degree or the knowledge that you have so i would honestly like to learn more about why. I followed a youtube tutorial and not only was it easy to do,the resulting product worked damn good. Honestly making a good steak would be more difficult,and i won't even say how much i scaled it up when i did it,lets just say i came out of the dollar store with a grocery bag full of cotton. What concerns you the most about the process? Why do you recommend doing such tiny batches? It's not something i plan on doing again anytime soon but I still wanna know?



#10 Mumbles

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Posted 07 April 2021 - 11:37 AM

The neutralization gets remarkably harder when you scale up.  Larger amounts just make it more difficult to get thorough washing.  The other, bigger issue, is that of runaways.  Being that this is a heterogeneous reaction, it's much harder to control temperatures.  Larger masses both in terms of total amount, and in terms of chunks of cotton both make hot spots more frequent, harder to control, and easier to get to critical temperature parameters. 

 

I've done kilo to a few kilos before under the supervision of people who knew what they were doing.  I still probably would be uneasy to attempt it on my own.  Everything was fine, but there were just enough tense moments to give me pause.

 

There is a reason there are only a few companies in the world who manufacture it commercially.  The expertise needed is hard to find. 


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Just so you guys quit asking, here is the link to the old forum. http://www.xsorbit2....forum/index.cgi

The sky is my canvas, and I have 2,113 pounds of powdered paint in the workshop.

#11 bio9980

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Posted 07 April 2021 - 11:46 AM

Greetings all,

I am a newbie here so I apologize in advance if I say or do something incorrect.  I teach chemistry and have made nitrocellulose many times in the past.  Often successfully, once with quite a mess when the acids weren't quite as well mixed as I thought (wow that was a terrifying bubbling-over of orange outgassing sludge).  Getting out of my foolish youth, I discovered that one can purchase large quantities of nitrocellulose as paper and cotton from Ali-express for way less than the chemicals I used to make it myself.  The quality was awesome and made for consistent demonstrations for years.  I can afford to waste it.  I apologize for suggesting a Chinese-made product but I can't argue with the quality and price.  I purchase it a few kilograms at a time and it always arrives slightly damp and dries perfectly.  The flash paper still has a slightly acidic surface so if stored in metal containers might cause them to rust a bit.

Ken 


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#12 wyzard10

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Posted 07 April 2021 - 04:23 PM

One other issue about actually making NC from scratch is getting your hands on nitric acid.  One they get kind of suspicious about the average person buying it because of so many things that go boom require it.  Two its expensive.



#13 ronmoper76

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Posted 07 April 2021 - 07:55 PM

The neutralization gets remarkably harder when you scale up.  Larger amounts just make it more difficult to get thorough washing.  The other, bigger issue, is that of runaways.  Being that this is a heterogeneous reaction, it's much harder to control temperatures.  Larger masses both in terms of total amount, and in terms of chunks of cotton both make hot spots more frequent, harder to control, and easier to get to critical temperature parameters. 

 

I've done kilo to a few kilos before under the supervision of people who knew what they were doing.  I still probably would be uneasy to attempt it on my own.  Everything was fine, but there were just enough tense moments to give me pause.

 

There is a reason there are only a few companies in the world who manufacture it commercially.  The expertise needed is hard to find. 

Looking back,it was 10 degrees outside that night and i had it in ice water,and still at one point i had fumes ROLLING and that shit was HOT!.  I see what you mean,it was hard to control.



#14 ronmoper76

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Posted 07 April 2021 - 07:59 PM

Greetings all,

I am a newbie here so I apologize in advance if I say or do something incorrect.  I teach chemistry and have made nitrocellulose many times in the past.  Often successfully, once with quite a mess when the acids weren't quite as well mixed as I thought (wow that was a terrifying bubbling-over of orange outgassing sludge).  Getting out of my foolish youth, I discovered that one can purchase large quantities of nitrocellulose as paper and cotton from Ali-express for way less than the chemicals I used to make it myself.  The quality was awesome and made for consistent demonstrations for years.  I can afford to waste it.  I apologize for suggesting a Chinese-made product but I can't argue with the quality and price.  I purchase it a few kilograms at a time and it always arrives slightly damp and dries perfectly.  The flash paper still has a slightly acidic surface so if stored in metal containers might cause them to rust a bit.

Ken 

I gotta admit i eventually bought some. Its way less i gotta worry about something degrading and catching fire,and it is pretty cheap at least here in the states



#15 24pyro97

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Posted 08 April 2021 - 07:10 AM

personally I don't use nitrocellulose for anything but purely to demonstrate nitration. and buying concentrated sulfuric acid is not an issue but buying concentrated nitric acid is ridiculously expensive, complications with storage and as well as the nitrogen dioxide gas that is dissolved in to the acid is very toxic and can severely burn the airways if inhaled. in the past i have always bought the sulfuric acid and just synthesized the nitric acid allowing me to make around 80-85% concentrated nitric acid. this was all done in a fume hood and with the proper setup and equipment for the synthesis. so unless you have the proper equipment for producing the acid ( fume hood, distillation equip.) i would not recommend it it would be very easy for the concentration of nitrogen dioxide gas to become life threatening if precautions aren't taken 



#16 Arthur

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Posted 08 April 2021 - 01:05 PM

Reading text books on the subject it's amazing how many synthesis routes work and how many simply fume off in brown toxic fumes and the few that -with the wrong concentrations of acids- form soluble compounds and the product washes away.

When the book says wash thoroughly it doesn't say that the nitration may take 24 hours and the washing take longer than that. Then there is the neutralisation and the re-washing. sometimes the washed material is chopped for better washing.



#17 ronmoper76

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Posted 09 April 2021 - 11:53 AM

personally I don't use nitrocellulose for anything but purely to demonstrate nitration. and buying concentrated sulfuric acid is not an issue but buying concentrated nitric acid is ridiculously expensive, complications with storage and as well as the nitrogen dioxide gas that is dissolved in to the acid is very toxic and can severely burn the airways if inhaled. in the past i have always bought the sulfuric acid and just synthesized the nitric acid allowing me to make around 80-85% concentrated nitric acid. this was all done in a fume hood and with the proper setup and equipment for the synthesis. so unless you have the proper equipment for producing the acid ( fume hood, distillation equip.) i would not recommend it it would be very easy for the concentration of nitrogen dioxide gas to become life threatening if precautions aren't taken 

Actually i just made a very small batch yesterday. I put it outside and used a bunsen burner,didn't really smell a thing,my biggest problem was shielding the bunsen burner from blowing out with all the wind we had yesterday. We put a few ml in a cup and were dissolving old rusty barn nails,and speaker wire  in it. Its astonishing that in a minute flat the nail was so shiny it looked brand new. I have to say it was incredibly easy,keeping the condenser water iced down,and then insulating the vigreux column to stop some of the heat loss was the hardest part. I plan on distilling essential oils for the most point but if i ever found a actual use for it,im sure i would try to make it again before i paid a fortune to get it shipped from somewhere..



#18 ronmoper76

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Posted 09 April 2021 - 11:55 AM

just to publish the source, this is the nice tutorial I was talking about, for those who surely have imagined the use of fuming acids and flasks

Yeah this method works great if someone was gonna try making some,i don't know if its the safest way or if it has any errors,but it does work.



#19 deepakpyro

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Posted 09 April 2021 - 12:40 PM

Flash paper/cotton is usually pretty lightweight stuff, so you might not get a whole lot of lacquer for your money, but it would likely make very good lacquer.

 

Also, Behlen's/Mohawk clear NC guitar lacquer has a decent amount of reasonably-nitrated NC (as good or better than ping pong balls) already dissolved in solvent, and can be purchased from Amazon for about $25/quart (in the US). Unsure price in India or if they'll ship there (flammable). Works fine, but also not exactly inexpensive. There's other solids in it besides NC, too, but it works well for DEs etc. https://www.amazon.c...,aps,100&sr=8-1

 

Be very careful of your purchase if you go the ping-pong ball route--IF you get actual celluloid (primarily dinitrate vs trinitrate) PP balls, they work for lacquer, are already stabilized by the camphor used in their manufacture, and make reasonable but not particularly ideal NC lacquer.

 

Homemade NC is not for newbies. Though not challenging, it is usually not suitably neutralized, chemically stabilized (NC wants to lose its nitrogen groups), and is not safe for long-term storage. It will degrade rather rapidly, and probably variably from batch-to-batch. In PP balls, the celluloid is the stabilizer.

 

Another lesser known source of pure and well-nitrated flash paper is from a molecular laboratory supply house, as electrophoresis blotting/transfer paper for western blotting, though that is reagent grade and expensive. But it burns like the dickens. Is sold in sheets or rolls. There are many other polymers used for lab electrotransfer paper, so you need to verify it is indeed NC--not difficult to do. Expensive.

 

If you could get your hands on some shotgun shells, probably easier to acquire than pistol ammo in India, that is about the best source for high-nitration, stabilized NC. And shotshell powder needs to be fast-burning, so is usually formed in flat wafers/disks that dissolve much much quicker than hard extruded propellant from, for example, large rifle rounds that need a slow burn to generate max pressures down a long barrel.

 

Hi SK, 

 

Thanks for your response. Yes i would agree with you. It is quite costly 25 gms /$8 with shipping. During my initial hunt of NC lacquer i have found one of NC lacquer used for wood polishing. https://www.amazon.i...r/dp/B08B3GN4TZ . Like US here they dont used to display the MSDS or content also on their manufactured products, so not sure about the content.  Any comments on this particular product. 

 

on the other hand, i know few supplier near my place who is selling some imported ping pong balls which made up of NC. If i want to make NC out of ping pong balls i will start with less quantity. I worried about the stability of the lacquer which is made up of magic cotton flash. 

 

In India, its impossible to buy ammunition's of any kind. Even with the gun permit also its regulated to buy shot gun shells which is limited. so that is closed end. 

The neutralization gets remarkably harder when you scale up.  Larger amounts just make it more difficult to get thorough washing.  The other, bigger issue, is that of runaways.  Being that this is a heterogeneous reaction, it's much harder to control temperatures.  Larger masses both in terms of total amount, and in terms of chunks of cotton both make hot spots more frequent, harder to control, and easier to get to critical temperature parameters. 

 

I've done kilo to a few kilos before under the supervision of people who knew what they were doing.  I still probably would be uneasy to attempt it on my own.  Everything was fine, but there were just enough tense moments to give me pause.

 

There is a reason there are only a few companies in the world who manufacture it commercially.  The expertise needed is hard to find. 

 

Agree with you Mumbles. I personally not prefer to make the nitrocellulose myself. Dont want to play stuffs with no experience in handling corrosive and exothermic reaction where to maintain the temperature is critical. Even sourcing good grade of Sulfuric and Nitric acid is difficult here due to ban of corrosive acids due to few incidents happened in India (Like acid attack on victims). Trying to source such chemicals form local dealer will notified to local authorities. 



#20 SharkWhisperer

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Posted 09 April 2021 - 01:54 PM

 

Hi SK, 

 

Thanks for your response. Yes i would agree with you. It is quite costly 25 gms /$8 with shipping. During my initial hunt of NC lacquer i have found one of NC lacquer used for wood polishing. https://www.amazon.i...r/dp/B08B3GN4TZ . Like US here they dont used to display the MSDS or content also on their manufactured products, so not sure about the content.  Any comments on this particular product. 

 

on the other hand, i know few supplier near my place who is selling some imported ping pong balls which made up of NC. If i want to make NC out of ping pong balls i will start with less quantity. I worried about the stability of the lacquer which is made up of magic cotton flash. 

 

In India, its impossible to buy ammunition's of any kind. Even with the gun permit also its regulated to buy shot gun shells which is limited. so that is closed end. 

 

Agree with you Mumbles. I personally not prefer to make the nitrocellulose myself. Dont want to play stuffs with no experience in handling corrosive and exothermic reaction where to maintain the temperature is critical. Even sourcing good grade of Sulfuric and Nitric acid is difficult here due to ban of corrosive acids due to few incidents happened in India (Like acid attack on victims). Trying to source such chemicals form local dealer will notified to local authorities. 

CGI doesn't appear to be marketed in the US, so there's no material safety data sheet (MSDS) available; at least I can't locate one. You could email the company--they have a website for Girish, and ask about total solids content, NC %, solvent (probably a mixture--pure acetone evaporates too quickly for painting guitars, etc.), and see what info they will give you.

 

If the Amazon price is indeed 450 Rupees/liter, that is about USD$5 and is super cheap; inexpensive enough that it'd be worth purchasing and testing. I'd guess it would be functional as fireworking NC lacquer, but you'd need to try it. Lacquers usually have a mixture of solids besides NC, but many people use them with good effect. At that price, why not try it? The nitration would probably be as high or higher than celluloid PP balls, and they are also pretty lightweight (around 3g/each). Not sure what they cost there. Here, NC lacquer costs around US$25/liter, which is an expensive option for Americans when high-nitration smokeless powder is easy to get. Suggest buying the lacquer if shipping isn't crazy expensive & try it. Dip a strip of cotton cloth or string in the wood NC lacquer, or paint a few layers on some paper, hang it to dry (which should be quick), and see how it burns. Or use it to make some BP or star comp slurry and see how different shapes/sizes burn. Good luck.







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