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Flash Powder Safety


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#1 mrp0tat0

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Posted 15 November 2007 - 02:28 AM

Aside from the obvious eyewear protection, I was wondering do any of you protect your hands in any way in an event it explodes when mixing? Is there anything that will prevent your digits from getting completely damaged such as gloves? I'm curious whether or not in a situation like that, will a simple welder's glove be a lifesaver for your hands?

I'd like to know what everyone does when dealing with FP.

#2 DeAdFX

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Posted 15 November 2007 - 02:38 AM

Nope... The only thing is pray to god that the flash doesn't explode in your hands. Using gloves really complicates things as your fingers become bigger and it is more cumbersome to handle objects. Even when being careful I would end up spilling chemicals all over the place. Unless another member can come up with a compelling argument don't bother... A face shield and or saftey glasses are good as is in my opinion.

#3 WarezWally

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Posted 15 November 2007 - 05:02 AM

I feel quite safe mixing standard 70/30 flash, if a .303 cant make it go off the I doubt me mixing it on a bit of paper will.

#4 Mumbles

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Posted 15 November 2007 - 11:44 AM

Static and mechanical shock are completely different one must remember. I don't feel safe at all mixing any quanity of flash, so there is always that pit in my stomach to remind me. I wear at least long sleves and pants when making flash, be sure to ground myself, and de-static all my work areas with static guard. Might be a bit over the top, but no accidents yet. I'd much prefer to err on the side of caution anywhen when not working in a dedicated shop. I've seen some scary flash making never go off, so I feel reasonable confident that it will be fine with what I'm doing.
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#5 deadman

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Posted 16 November 2007 - 06:31 PM

Ditto to the post before mine. I hate making flash. I have only made it in batches larger than 10 grams twice. I never feel safe making flash. Static guard is my safety blanket. I also where a fine dust mask. I need a respirator, but something is better than nothing.
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#6 Draco_Americanus

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Posted 17 January 2008 - 06:54 PM

I usaly wear a resperator, and anti static lab coat and just normal gloves. I dont like inhaling the dust and dont feel like sneezing up aluminum for the next week. I also usaly mix the flash slowly by inverting to cups taped to each other, allmost like a comercial machine, and also pray it dont detonate

#7 Frozentech

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Posted 17 January 2008 - 10:01 PM

I use static-guard on the work area, wear thin leather gloves and cotton long sleeves. When I do more than 10 grams I also wear a lexan face shield. I wouldn't recommend wearing rubber gloves, just in case; I have this nasty image of having molten latex or nitrile coated hands. If they weren't so pricey I might get some nomex 'racing' gloves, I think they would be ideal.
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#8 50AE

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Posted 18 January 2008 - 08:45 AM

I don't use protection for making flash powder, but I don't make big quantities. The most of the time, 2-4 grams.

I fear only from static electricity, but I think I can avoid it with keeping a certain humidity level. Also, I touch the kitchen metal pipes to discharge. By the way, can a FP charged and closed salute/shell explode from static electricity while handled?

My flash is not very fine, so should it be less sensible then ? The aluminium is 400mesh automized, 400 mesh sulfur and grinded KNO3/KMnO4.

#9 Bonny

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Posted 18 January 2008 - 09:36 AM

I too only make flash in small batches. A few 10g batches were the biggest, and scariest. I wear a respirator and safety glasses (a face shield soon when I buy one) and long sleeve shirt. After the chems are weighed seperately, I put on welding gloves and daiper (lg batch) or mix (gently) in a container tipping it back and forth.

#10 qwezxc12

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Posted 18 January 2008 - 03:07 PM

I pretty much follow the same precautions as most everyone here: Cotton long sleeves and pants, sturdy boots, respirator and impact rated safety glasses. I don't wear gloves as I do not want my tactile senses dulled. My work bench frame is grounded with 6AWG to a cold water pipe. I don’t use anti-static spray due to the high relative humidity in my assembly area.

When describing qtys. of flash, “small batches” is a relative term. More important, is the fact that I only work in the amounts that I need for a particular device(s). ALWAYS. No loose flash in the workshop. Period. The 2in and 3in salutes for the BBQ shoot I made last august took a little over 550g total of hot flash to fill; 15g ea. for the 2in ones, 50g and 100g ea. for the 3in ones.

Was my work area scrupulously clean?...Yes.
Were all known potential sources of energy (spark, flame, mechanical) policed and removed from my work area?...Yes.
Did I make only enough for the job at hand?...Yes.
Did I only make it when my shells were at the stage were they could be loaded and sealed immediatly?...Yes.
Was I nervous and shaking like a leaf the whole time?...No.

If you are nervous, you are more likely to make mistakes through fear. If you are scared of flash, you probably shouldn’t be making it. You should never lose respect for it, though. Making a 1lb+ batch seems to be a middle-of-the-road amount, somewhere between those who say “I never make more than 10g at a time”, and those who need a shovel to fill their 8in bottom-shot cans. Either way, once you’re over a certain qty, face it - it’s not whether you will live (you’re dead either way), it’s the size of the pieces left over.

I think the key is to have a plan – don’t make flash and then look for a way to use it. Be methodical and limit your exposure at the highest risk steps in making and using flash.

My $.02
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#11 Sylar

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Posted 18 January 2008 - 03:29 PM

My flash is not very fine, so should it be less sensible then ? The aluminium is 400mesh automized, 400 mesh sulfur and grinded KNO3/KMnO4.

ANYTHING containing KMnO4 and a fuel should be treated as a primary explosive. Especially when sulfur or metal powders are in the composition.

I've tested enough with KMnO4 as an oxidiser and feel experienced enough to say "STOP USING KMnO4 IN PYRO".
Compositions with even less sensitive fuels become hot to the touch when slightly moist or even dripping wet.
This happens with water aswell as hydrocarbon solvents!!

KMnO4 is way too unstable/reactive for use in practical pyrotechnics. Period.

#12 50AE

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Posted 18 January 2008 - 03:55 PM

I'm experienced enought too with KMnO4 and what you say it's true, but I'll disagree to name this flash comp as a "Primary Explosive".
KMnO4 flash is fine when not stored and exposed to organics and moisture. But many people ignore this, and then the accidents happen.

Perchlorate flash doesn't have these Cons and it can be stored, that makes it safer. But remember that is some countries pot. perchlorate is hard to obtain, and this is my case.

My real paranoia here it's the static electicity, please tell me if there is a risk of spontaneous ignition when taking the device in hand.

#13 FrankRizzo

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Posted 18 January 2008 - 05:27 PM

If potassium chlorate or perchlorate are difficult to find in your country, find a different hobby..PERIOD.

#14 Mumbles

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Posted 18 January 2008 - 05:27 PM

There is always a risk of spontaneous ignition. This can be somewhat lowered by using paper over plastic casings. Plastic tends to be a bit more staticy than paper.

Sylar didn't say that the flash was a primary explosive, but rather that is should be treated as so. I happen to agree with him. When combining it with sulfur, I absolutly cannot even see how you can say it's safe. The fact that you're saying that KMnO4 based flash is fine is evidence to me that you're not experienced enough. If perc is hard to find, don't make things requiring flash powder. The only things that require flash powder are salutes. Shells can be made to function perfectly well without the use of flash.
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#15 Bonny

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Posted 18 January 2008 - 06:09 PM

If potassium chlorate or perchlorate are difficult to find in your country, find a different hobby..PERIOD.

I have to disagree a bit with that one...I can't (easily) get chlorate and perchlorate, but I still enjoy and will continue to enjoy this hobby...with or without (per)chlorate, it will only limit what I can do. Although it would pretty much kill any colours if I couldn't get either one...but, potassium chlorate is not that hard to make.

#16 50AE

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Posted 18 January 2008 - 06:15 PM

If potassium chlorate or perchlorate are difficult to find in your country, find a different hobby..PERIOD.

The lack of these chemicals is not a reason to find a different hobby.


I'll stop argue on that KMnO4 flash subject. But I spent 2 weeks of testing it, so I just can't say to it "no".
I admit that it was my first composition when I started my hobby, but now I made good black powder and safer flash mixtures, so I prefer to stick to them of course. At the moment I don't make permanganate flash, but I don't want to insult it now, because I have nice memories from it.
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#17 Mumbles

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Posted 19 January 2008 - 03:56 AM

I am glad you have made it past KMnO4 flash, and have moved beyond it.

I would personally sugest you keep the KMnO4 as just that.........Memories. I feel it has no place in pyrotechnics,
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#18 50AE

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Posted 03 April 2008 - 02:38 PM

Just made some KClO4/MgAl flash and it's really powerful, I'm a little scared from it. So I want to avoid accidents and follow the security measures for this composition. Can you tell me, if :

1. It's stable enough to be stored for a few weeks ?
2. It's very friction sensitive ? Can it self ignite when I press with my fingers a polumna made with it ?
3. Very static electricity sensitive ?

Thank you in advance :).

#19 justanotherpyro

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Posted 03 April 2008 - 03:06 PM

MgAl flash is definitely scary stuff. I've been experimenting with MgAl/KNO3/S and it is more powerful than standard 70:30 perc/Al. It is more reactive than straight Al flash but is more stable than just straight up Mg flash. Just follow the precautions earlier in this thread. Avoiding storage if at all possible being the big one. Granted it is hard to not store it once you build a device then wait to shoot it but try and minimize the time it will be stored as much as possible.
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#20 TheSidewinder

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Posted 03 April 2008 - 09:02 PM

Out of idle curiousity (and a sense of caution), I have to ask WHY you added Sulfur to already perfectly good Flash? ;)

Kidding aside, it sure doesn't need any further sentisizing. I can't see why you'd need to lower the ignition temp either, if that's why you're adding it? Or are you doing it, "just because"?
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