Nitrocellulose is one of the best materials to use for low budget special effects, or just to have fun! This flash cotton can be used in many ways (as seen in step 4), and all of them are amazing to watch! They also make for amazing light paintings! See the pictures in the last step for examples.
This is part 2 of a 3 part project. See the last step for a hint of the next part! Warning: This instructable can be dangerous if the proper safety precautions are not followed. Please be aware that handling a strong acid, such as sulfuric acid, can cause significant harm. Also, the nitrocellulose should be used responsibly, not to intentionally harm another living being. Step 1: Materials Materials: Tools: Safety goggles (preferably slash-proof) Rubber gloves Plastic cups or other plastic/glass containers Marker Beaker Scale Pan Salt Ice Plastic/glass stirring rod (no metal!) Bucket pH strips (optional) Step 2: Preparation Measurement: To measure the volume of a liquid, pour 50mL of water into a cup, and mark it with a permanent marker. Now you can simply pour out the water and fill up the cup to the line with the sulfuric acid. This method allows the use of kitchenware for the actual measurement. Using the method above (or a spare beaker if you have one), measure 50 mL of sulfuric acid. Next, use a scale to measure 35 grams of potassium nitrate. Then, measure 4 g of cotton (it should be about 8 cotton balls) using your scale. Setup: To produce optimal results, the sulfuric acid/potassium nitrate bath should be chilled with salt and ice. Fill your pan/container with ice, a bit of water and some normal table salt (NaCl). The salt cools the mixture down to below freezing and allows the ice to last longer. If the temperature outside is within a few degrees of freezing, the ice bath is not necessary. Also, prepare the cotton balls by pulling them apart and making them as fluffy as possible. This ensures the cotton will be evenly exposed to the mixture. Safety Precautions: Have a bucket of baking soda and water solution nearby Wear safety goggles and rubber gloves Stay away from anything you don't want to get acid on Have someone help you or be nearby Step 3: Process Nitration: 1.) Place the potassium nitrate container into the ice bath 2.) Carefully pour 50mL of sulfuric acid into the container of KNO 3 3.) Stir thoroughly for about a minute 4.) Mix in the pulled apart cotton balls one by one 5.) If the mixture becomes too thick, add another 10-15mL of sulfuric acid 6.) Once all of the cotton is completely covered, let it sit for at least an hour 7.) Remove container from the ice bath to prepare it for rinsing Rinsing: 1.) Fill a separate container with warm water 2.) Place the cotton into this container and stir 3.) Repeat previous two steps 3 times (the pH of the solution is still going to be about 2.5, so be careful!) 4.) When disposing of the acidic water, be sure to neutralize it first by pouring some baking soda in it 5.) Pour some baking soda down the drain of a slop sink 6.) In the same sink, let lukewarm water run into the container for two minutes, stirring occasionally (this will also clean your drain!) 7.) If you would like, test the water's pH (mine was between 6-7 by this point), but it should be safe to touch by now Drying: 1.) Drain the water from the container 2.) Put the nitrocellulose onto a tray 3.) Pat with a paper towel 4.) Leave to dry inside overnight Step 4: Using It!
Now for the fun part!
Only a few of the uses for this amazing substance are listed here.
Be creative and be safe! Normal Usage: Pull apart the cotton until it is very fluffy. Then simply ignite it! Light it in your Hand: Throw a Fireball: Coming Soon! Don't forget to comment if you liked it!