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Tiger Tail Problem


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When I want to cut Tiger Tail stars they alway run together :(


I add my water with a spray bottle after some time the composition is only crumply and doesn't want to hold together, then I spray only once more and then suddenly everything beginns to get liquid.


Is this because there is 6g Dextrine present?


Should I lower my Dextrin ammount or does Dextrin need some time to activate=?



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Less water is required. I've had this problem too, and I know it's a fine line between crumbly and a slurry, but you have to walk it.


Often as time proceeds air escapes and the nitrate dissolves and the dextrin activate. All of this plus temperature changes can be enough to change it from firm to slurry or vice versa. It coould be worthwhile to let it settle for half an hour after you mix the water in to let it become at equilibrium.

Edited by Seymour
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I am definitely with Seymour on this one. I have had similar problems when cutting dextrin bound stars. I think the best route to go is after the comp has been wetted properly, is to just let the comp sit for a little while and give the dextrin some time to activate. I know in my case I notice a distinct smell from my comp when dextrin gets wet. 6% dextrin is definitely not too much at all. I bind with 5% and they work dandy.
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Thanks next time I let it sit for 30 min^^


Because I cut some stars and 80% cut good and the rest is just crumpy :(


Is this normal?


And does the composition must form a ball andd stick together?



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The useless stars will lessen with time. I know what you're talking about, and as you refine your technique and practice you'll get fewer of them.


Every composition needs different amounts of water. Even that amount of water will vary day to day due to many unknown factors. There are some tricks to getting it wet properly. One of them is letting the composition sit, as has already been discussed. When I'm letting it sit, I compress it down into a cake personally. It might not do anything, but to me the close contact of everything helps to better evenly distribute the water. After it has set, I also take a butter knife and try to cut it into about 8 pie slices. This has two uses. Firstly, it's almost impossible to get the composition out otherwise. Secondly, and more importantly, it gives some hints as to how the composition is wetted. If I can cut all 8 slices and they pretty much stay together at the center, it's good. If it gets crumbly at the center or where cuts intersect, it will crumble when I cut it into start, and it needs more water. If the cuts sort of sludge back together, then it's too wet.


This is most applicable for using the patty method of cutting stars, which is probably what you're more familiar with. If you have a loaf box, then the composition needs to be drier. With the patty method, another helpful hint is to get guides. I just went to the hardware store and picked up some square dowels in the sizes that I needed. Put them on your table, and cover in a sheet of waxed paper. Then put your composition down, and cover with another sheet of waxed paper. Roll it out with a piece of pipe or dowel or whatever you want really. You'll get a patty the exact height you want. If you get good at this, you can get a patty with mostly straight sides, but the ends will be kind of rounded and crumbly. This is where those crumbly stars typically come from. Typically, I will cut the ends off, and sometimes the sides if they're kind of crumbly too, so I'm left with a square or rectangle of well compressed composition. I cut this as normal. I take the stuff I cut off the first time, and remold it into a ball, which can be re-rolled and re-cut. You'll still get some crumbly stuff, but it should be nowhere near what you started with. If you want to cut off the crumbly parts again, you can always press them into a few comets or something.

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A big thank to you :)


I have already build myself a frame where I hammer the patty inside and then remove the frame^^


This way I can make stars where nothing is crumply^^


And if I have something left I for sure make some comets :)


Another question: Why does stars with about 40% charcoal dry so bad (2 days in the sun "86 Fahrenheit"). And is it dangerous to dry stars in the sun especially when they contain titanium?


Thanks again you give about the best answers^^

Edited by Flaky234
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#1 it's not dangerous to dry titanium stars in the sun. Nor is it dangerous to dry most stars in the sun actually. The ones that cause issues are already sensitive chlorate stars and glitter stars. The chlorate stars are sensitive to intense UV light, and the glitter stars are sensitive to the heat which can accelerate unwanted reactions.


#2 2 days is generally not enough to dry most charcoal compositions. Their drying times are more frequently measured in weeks, not days. The charcoal holds onto water more tightly than most other chemicals. Trying to force dry stars can result in the outside layer being totally dried and sealing in the wet innards of a star. This is called getting driven in. The best way to dry high charcoal stars is in a shady breezy place for several days to do the bulk of the drying. After the water content gets sufficiently low, you can dry them in direct sun to finish them off without much worry of driving them in. This is not a hobby for the impatient.

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Moisture content is critical. Try putting too little water in there and leaving the whole lot in a sealed plastic snap top bag for a couple of days, the water soaks into every part of the mass nice and evenly. Otherwise you can make the mix wet -really wet! Then leave it to dry as a bulk and come back to it when it's dry enough.


Take a weighed group of stars and check by repeated weighing that they are dry when they do not lose more weight. 2 weeks to 2 months is OK for charcoal stars.


If you need to dry some surfaces while cutting you can add a little meal powder which absorbs a little moisture and acts as a prime -but TT shouldn't need a prime.


I've seen it reported that people spread dry prime on the table than roll the patty onto it, then cut, then dust the top and cut faces with prime. Usually this lets the prime sit tightly bound into the star and gives than a non stick coating!

Edited by Arthur
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I have never experienced such intensly long dry times for charcoal stars from Tiger Tail to Firefly to C6--unless I drive the srars in. On a screen for three to five days then in a box with dessicant for two days always gets the job done for me, even in the humid weather I'm experiencing now. During winter I can get by with only one or two days on a screen and one or two in a dry box. However, if I do drive them in, they can spend months in my dry box until they're fully dry.
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When I want to cut Tiger Tail stars they alway run together :(


I add my water with a spray bottle after some time the composition is only crumply and doesn't want to hold together, then I spray only once more and then suddenly everything beginns to get liquid.


Is this because there is 6g Dextrine present?


Should I lower my Dextrin ammount or does Dextrin need some time to activate=?




here is usefull information on cut star.


Lancaster page 384


Cubic stars: An amount of composition with the binder "Mizinko"

is placed in a bowl and a measured amount of water is poured into it.

When the quantity of water is too great, it is difficult to cut the kneaded

mass because the compositions sticks to the tools, and when the amount

is too small, the composition cannot be solidified because there is insufficient

adhesion. It is better in fact to work out before manufacture the

amount of water required for each composition or to use the following

method: A small part of the composition is taken out, and an amount

of water is added to the remainder of the composition which is then

kneaded into a paste. The former part of the composition is then added

in small quantities, kneading and adjusting the viscosity at the same

time. When the kneading is insufficient, the composition is not uniform

and creates a lot of cinder with a lid so that it does not dry out. The

tools for cutting the kneaded composition are prepared as in Fig. 23.7.

First a thick wooden chopping-board (30 cm X 60 cm X 3 cm) is

prepared and around its edges are four thin, long, wooden edge-plates,

the thickness of which is the same as that of the cubic stars, the edgeplates

are fixed with small nails or brass screws. The kneaded composition

is then placed on the chopping-board between the edge-plates,

pressing with the fingers, so that the surface of the pressed composition

is little higher than the edge-plate. Using a wooden hammer the surface

of the composition is patted until it becomes as high as the edge-plates,

and then a thin, long knife is pushed on and along the edge-plates

from one side of the chopping-board to the other, removing the excess

composition. The four edge-plates are then removed, so that a sheet of

composition of uniform thickness remains on the board. The sheet is

Manufacturing Processes for Firework Compositions 385

Fig. 23.7 Star making tools

cut checkerwise into squares as follows: First the sheet of the composition

is sprinkled with powder of the same thickness as the sheet of

composition, thus producing a row of several exactly square, sticks of

the composition. Each stick is rolled 90°, so that the new surface produced

by cutting is uppermost, and the old surface on which the composition

powder was sprinkled is at the side, to prevent the sticks from

adhering to each other. The cut pieces are removed to the other side,

by sliding them along the board as they are cut, to produce a row of

parallel strips. The strips are brought together and turned 90° so that

they are in close formation. These pieces are cut with the knife at right

angles to the strips, the same width as the thickness of each strip. Thus

we have regular cubes of composition. The cubes are removed from

the chopping-board into a sieve so that small particles of composition

can be sifted out and the cubes which stick to each other can be separated.

The size of the cube varies according to use. For example a cube

with a 3 mm or 6 mm side is used for the core of round stars, while

a 12 mm cube is used for smoke stars. The stars are dried in the sun,

but the stars which are relatively large are best dried in the shade,

because stars which are dried in the sun immediately after the cutting

are likely to dry only on the surface, with the result, that the inner part

of the cube is not easily dried, and finally it cracks on the surface. A

worker should be able to make 30,000 3 mm or 15,000 6 mm stars in

a working day. When the cubes are covered with an igniting composition

in the way described later, they can be used as complete stars.

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Do you really have to make it so unbelievably obvious you're pirating literature? Buy the books. In the long run for the information they contain and time you'll save, its worth the price several times over.
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