how does pine and willow charcoal differ from plain old random tree charcoal when used in pyrotechnics?


i am starting up an online store, and am already starting to sell some of my pyrotechnic supplies, such as manganese dioxide and charcoal, but i just realised, on ebay (my online store is not an ebay store), people are only ever selling pine charcoal or willow charcoal!
which doesnt make much sense since is a super fine powder and is made up of carbon.
i need to know what makes these so much different from regular random tree charcoal that comes from just anywhere, and, is the charcoal i have now, which is of unknown origin, but mostly of from pine-like trees in the tropics, the same?

i need to know if it makes any difference since i dont want angry customers demanding refunds because it isnt as good as other charcoal!

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Prfesser6 years ago
Charcoal is much more complex than merely "a super fine powder...of carbon." If memory serves, the volatiles content makes a difference in the activity of the charcoal in pyrotechnics. There are other factors, but in any event, willow, grapevine, alder, and a few others make charcoal that is superior for pyrotechnics---usually meaning that the composition burns faster.

If you sell charcoal of unknown origin as a pyro supply, suggest that you advertise it as "charcoal of unknown origin" rather than "great for pyro use" or similar.  Many pyro enthusiasts are knowledgeable enough to complain about such a product.

Good luck!
dudet4276 years ago
When making a composition like black powder, a composition that needs to be milled, two things make a light wood better; porosity and softness of charcoal. Porosity allows for greater intergration of materials, softness allows for faster milling times. Also for spark effects, many pyrotechnicians believe that leaving some volatiles in the charcoal adds to the effect. Also prfesser, when you say superior for pyrotechnics, you must be speaking about just fast blackpowder, for other than that very fast burning charcoal is of limited use. Spark effects and the like are made with willow, pine, and various dense wood charcoals, and spark effects are in my opinion more important than super fast bp. Generally it is not all that advantagous to have a faster burning composition.
I'm not trying to sound like a know-it-all here so sorry if I do
Kiteman6 years ago
The issue is probably impurities that might affect the rate of reaction, or even the colour.

Knowing where the material is sourced makes predicting and accounting for such things much easier, and more predictable.
oldmanbeefjerky (author)  Kiteman6 years ago
ill try now to source all charcoal from the one type of tree, which is the pine-like tree which i still do not know the name off, only that it is exactly like a pinetree , but instead of pinecones , has small like prickly nut type things.
oldmanbeefjerky (author)  Kiteman6 years ago
i will do, ill just advertise it as standard charcoal powder/granules (i will sell crushed and uncrushed.

but really what your all saying is that there are other things in the charcoal which assist its burning, like hydrocarbons which remain from the wood, or particle structure pore sizes ect.

though, i will be selling my charcoal at the lowest possible price (99 cents per 200g), so it is a consolation that my charcoal is just average!

i must ask this though, i get two types of charcoal, one which is brittle anf soft, the other hard and crystal like, probably somewhat unburnt, it (only the latter) is always left behind after milling and makes rather nice, gemstone like lumps, i want to know, since i usually discard this charcoal, would including the hard charcoal perhaps improve the pyrotechnic potential of the charcoal? or would it make no difference other than adding a burnt wood smell to the smoke ( this happened with my smokebomb mix a few times)