Homemade Sparklers for the 4th of July! - (Improvised Hand-Held Fireworks)




Introduction: Homemade Sparklers for the 4th of July! - (Improvised Hand-Held Fireworks)

About: Random Weekend Projects

In this project, we're making hand-held sparklers for the 4th of July.  When it's time to celebrate with fireworks, you could just buy them.  Or you could improvise, and make your own.

Step 1: Watch the Video!

WARNING: There is a very real risk to health and safety.  This project should not be attempted without adult supervision and adequate training.  Pyrotechnics are not toys, and should be handled with extreme caution and respect.  High temperatures on the stove or oven may cause auto-ignition of the pyrotechnic composition which may lead to serious injury, death, and/or permanent damage to equipment and property.  Ignition of an incendiary or explosive material may not be legal in your area, and resulting damage may not be covered by your insurance.  Check city laws and ordinances before attempting.  Use of this video content is at your own risk.

Step 2: An Alternative Use for Slow Burning Fuses

These sparklers are nearly identical to the slow burning fuses made in a previous project.  The only difference is, this time I tried adding food coloring for effect, and a clothespin as a holder to help prevent burns to fingers.

To see the slow burning fuse tutorial, check out this video:

To watch how to make smoke flares, check this one out:

Step 3: Sparkle Stick Recipe

This sparkler, or sparkle stick, works best at night, or in low-light conditions.  During the day, you see more smoke than you do sparks, but both effects are pretty fun.

This is the recipe for making a "sparkle stick";

-60 mL Water (Heated on medium heat) 
-36 grams KNO3 (Potassium Nitrate) which I obtained in the form of stump remover
-24 grams White Sugar
-1-20 drops of food coloring (Color to suit your preference)

Note: White/Gray smoke is the only color emitted, even if you use different colored dyes.  Colored smoke cannot be made with KNO3.

Shake the Sugar and KNO3 together to get an intimate mixture, then pour into the water and stir until dissolved.

Soak about 12 feet of 100% cotton yarn in the solution, then space evenly on a cookie tray.

Bake in an oven at 150ºC (300ºF) for about 20 minutes, making sure to lift the yarn at 10 minutes to make sure it doesn't stick to the pan.

Let cool for 5-10 minutes.

Step 4: Cut to Desired Sizes

When your sparkle cords are cooled down, you can easily cut them to any desired size with a pair of scissors, and place in clothespin.

I made a couple of different batches, in different colors, for the holiday.

Step 5: Lighting Your Sparklers

Now you can put on gloves and safety glasses, light your sparkler, and enjoy!

The sparks are much more noticeable at night when there is very little light.  During the day, the smoke is more visible.  Personally, I think both effects are awesome.

Gloves are recommended as bits of burning fuel will occasionally fly off, and can burn the skin.

If the sparkler burns too fast, wait a few hours, or days to try again.  The composition is hygroscopic and will absorb moisture from the air, reducing the rate of burn until eventually it won't light at all.

If you want to revive an old batch that has absorbed too much moisture, re-bake in the oven for 20 minutes at 150ºC (300ºF).

These types of devices may not be legal to make or use in your area, so check local laws before attempting to duplicate this project, and as always, be safe and aware of your environment before igniting anything flammable!

Step 6:

The best part is, you can make hundreds of these sparklers for only a few dollars, and the clippings can be burned together for a more dramatic display!

Well, now you know how to make some improvised hand-held fireworks to celebrate your special occasion.

If you haven't seen the video yet, you can still see it here.

And if you missed seeing how to make fuse cord and smoke flares, you can check them out in the links below.

To see the slow burning fuse tutorial, Click Here

To watch how to make smoke flares, Click Here

If you like this project perhaps you'll like some of my others. Check them out at www.thekingofrandom.com



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91 Discussions

I seem to recall a formula using sulphur , salpeter and iron filings . Not sure how it was made to bind onto a piece of wire .. The iron filings burn and cause the sparkler effect . Nice research project ..

Taking a magnesium fire starter and a course file and making shavings wool give you day visible sparks. Soft aluminum too. Just mix some in your batch. It's what's used in professionally made versions.


2 years ago

I don't want to be rude,but where do you get KNO3?(I'm learning chemistry next year).

2 replies

try finding at walmart or some pharmacies, if they ask you what will you do just say removing stump

Nice -ible. Safe and sane.

Since people have to actually think, and follow instructions to make these smoke-powder-on-a-string things... I'm not worried about those kind of people actually starting their floor on fire indoors. Instructables is for thinking people.
What is much more worrisome are the people here who are not thinking logically or rationally, the fear-mongers worry me!
The FUD crowd (Fear, Uncertainty, Deception) is guilty of intellectual censorship. Eventually a new "dark age" will result. I'm talking about suppression of knowledge and the chilling effect of the nanny-state dogma.
Humanity needs to continue to use their God-given minds to learn how things work and how to improve the human condition of their fellow man. Chemistry, even pyro-chemistry, is but one area of knowledge. Let's work together to help everyone become smarter, that's what Instructables is for. :)

BTW, happy 4th of July to citizens of the united states of America wherever you happen to be!

FUD = Fear, Uncertainty and *Doubt

For the sake of words, "uncertainty" seems to be the same logical operator as "doubt." If uncertainty = doubt, the equation has one less operator available.

My use of the acronym FUD is based on a Micro$oft strategy as reported in opinion based computer literature published many years ago. I think Microsoft has done some good things, notably the job security of all of us who fix their problems on the computers of our customers. The drive to ascendancy was marked by the litter of corporate bodies strewn about the economic wayside. Looking back, I only wish the minds who built Microsoft OS had been building the Linux OS and had made it (the OS) open from the beginning. We might have excellent robots by now instead of just beginning to be able to create them at home with a budget.

Except you're wrong. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fear%2C_uncertainty_and_doubt

I hate to use Wikipedia in defense of my own opinion, considering how fraught with errors both can be. But directly from the Wikipedia reference you gave me, is this which supports my idea about "deception."

After 1991 the term has become generalized to refer to any kind of disinformation used as a competitive weapon.


Disinformation does equal deception. My use of the term appears valid.
Thanks for the wordplay. :)
Have a happy new year! 2015 into 2016.

(Remember, the enemy is not us who choose to think, it's those who are afraid of us who do choose to think.)

Sanity from a sane person in a world of delusion. It is good to hear from a human in a room full of sheep.

This is one of the most refreshing statements I have read in a long time.... I have been YELLING this for years as we move away from thinkers and closer to morons that allow a government to tell us how to do everything... Double plus good...

totally agree DIY-Guy and billbillt - great statement

I will certainly be motivating and coaching my nieces (age 8, 10 and 13) and nephew (15) on making your instructable this weekend.

Probably the same amount as with turkey fryers.

I wonder how many house fires will start that are not due to this project.

I also wonder how many will NOT start due to this project because someone learned a thing or two.