Flash Powder

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Intro: Flash Powder

This is a reasonably safe, easy to make, high powered flash powder, suitable for use in electrically triggered pyrotechnics effects.

It stays reasonably stable under various moisture conditions.

For instructions on making squibs (small flat pack explosives), see my other instructable.

*** WARNINGS:***
  • THIS INSTRUCTABLE INVOLVES HAZARDOUS MATERIALS.
  • OXIDATION HAZARD.
  • EXPLOSION HAZARD.
  • YOU CAN HURT YOURSELF.
  • NOT FOR CHILDREN.
  • FOLLOW DIRECTIONS CAREFULLY, AND USE COMMON SENSE.
**********************

Step 1: Gather Materials

You will need:

  • aluminum powder
  • potassium perchlorate powder
  • a metal cylinder for rolling out powder
  • an anti-static bag for mixing
  • a precise scale, capable of measuring single-gram quantities

Step 2: Prepare the Work Area

Make sure your work table is flat, clean, and dry.

Make sure there is NO possibility of static shocks: Do not wear rubber shoes on synthetic carpets in cool, dry air, etc...

Lay out your materials neatly, and DESIGNATE AN AREA FOR EACH CHEMICAL. They become an explosive when mixed together, so you don't want them mixing unless you mean to.

Step 3: Measure and Mill Perchlorate

Decide on your batch size. I suggest NOT mixing more than 12 grams at a time.

Weigh out perchlorate in the amount of 2/3 of your batch size. For example: A 12 gram batch is 8 grams perchlorate, 4 grams aluminum powder.

Place the pile of perchlorate on a small piece of paper, in its spot on the work surface, and GENTLY use the metal roller to mill it into a very fine powder.

The finer the powder is, the more reliable your triggering will be.

If it is very clumpy, you may wish to scoop it up into a pile again, and re-mill it several times.

When you are done, use the piece of paper to pour your powder into the mixing bag.

Step 4: Measure Aluminum Powder

"Fluff" your aluminum powder by agitating it with a spoon or similar instrument. This serves the same purpose of the milling did with the perchlorate: The powder will not be clumped together, and it will mix better, making a more reliable explosive.

Again, using your scale, measure 1/3 of your batch size in aluminum powder.

Carefully pour the aluminum powder into the mixing bag with the perchlorate.

Step 5: Final Mix

once you have both materials in the bag, gently rock the bag back and forth about ten times, until the two powders are thoroughly mixed.

Congratulations! You have made flash powder. Be careful with it.

Store in a clean, dry place, in a sealed container, away from children and pets. Store away from sources of ignition, and from other chemicals.

To incorporate your flash powder into flat pack explosives, see my other instructable: flat-pack explosive (squib).

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    124 Discussions

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    BlueFusion

    11 years ago on Introduction

    Gaa! Please anyone, never use aluminium powder without an appropriate particulate respirator. If you get even minute traces of aluminium powder in your lungs, it can (& probably will, slowly) KILL YOU! This is almost as bad as asbestos poisoning! Any container containing aluminium powder should never be opened unless everyone present has a mask / filter. Even the action of opening the container will cause some powder to become airborne. Apart from that, great. You do need to be aware that this is NOT SAFE and you shouldn't do it, but if you want to, go for it. Nothing remotely involving pyrotechnics is totally safe. However, I've been doing it for a couple of years and I'm still intact!

    16 replies
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    BlueFusionIronious

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    'ballonie'? baloney, or more correctly (origin) bologna.
    anyway, where teh f*k did you get the impression its not toxic. How about you read the MSDS. It tells you it IS VERY MUCH toxic and even more dangerous as powder.
    http://www.jtbaker.com/msds/englishhtml/A2712.htm
    or,
    http://avogadro.chem.iastate.edu/MSDS/Al_powder.htm

    and more:
    http://www.google.com/search?q=aluminium+powder+msds

    some highlights:
    Health Rating: 2 - Moderate (Life)
    Contact Rating: 2 - Moderate
    Lab Protective Equip: GOGGLES & SHIELD; LAB COAT & APRON; VENT HOOD; PROPER GLOVES; CLASS D EXTINGUISHER
    Storage Color Code: Red Stripe (Store Separately)

    Potential Health Effects
    Eye: May cause eye irritation.
    Skin: May cause skin irritation. Low hazard for usual industrial handling. No sensitizing effects known.
    Ingestion: May cause gastrointestinal irritation with nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
    Inhalation: May cause respiratory tract irritation. May cause respiratory difficulty and coughing.
    Chronic: Aluminum may be implicated in Alzheimer's disease. Inhalation of aluminum containing dusts may cause pulmonary disease.

    Realise that in a MSDS, 'may' means is, they are covering their own asses by not using 'always' words.

    Symptoms of aluminium powder inhalation are somewhat similar to asbestos. Do some research, please, for your own lungs and heart's sake. If you must, go breathe it all day, see who dies first. I'm trying to help people here.

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    IroniousBlueFusion

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Inhalation:
    Causes irritation to the respiratory tract. Symptoms may include coughing, shortness of breath.
    Ingestion:
    Not considered toxic although aluminum chloride may form slowly in the digestive tract with nausea, vomiting, other gastrointestinal effects in extreme cases.
    Skin Contact:
    May cause irritation with redness and pain.
    Eye Contact:
    Causes irritation, redness, and pain.
    At most its an irritant.
    It says nothing about death or disease. it says it may be implicated in Alzheimer's. "May" means that it is unknown but suspected or it could or could not. Ive read other MSDS's for other chemicals that say they can cause disease. And in order to get lung disease you have to be chronically exposed to it. Thats chronic, as in you work around the stuff 8 hours a day and 40 hours a week for months or years on end. But chronic inhalation of any kind of dust is going to ruin your lungs over time. I mean how long does it take to make a batch of flash powder? And read the sheet again. It says nothing about aluminum being toxic. There are no harmful side effects from ingesting it.
    Trying to help people and over worrying people are two different things. You want to help folks not scare then needlessly. Chemistry should be fascinating not scary. There's always a chance of risk when working with chemicals but with proper safety precautions those risks can be negated. Working with aluminum powder in this setting is just not much of a risk.

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    BlueFusionIronious

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Go ask any reputable and nonbiased chemical expert. (one who doesn't sell the stuff). It's one of the most hazardous substances around, even though it seems benign. I don't want to argue; it's your funeral. (I'll put "I told you so" in the eulogy.) Please don't go killing anyone else too, though, with these words, then it's murder, not just suicide.

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    en2ohBlueFusion

    Reply 2 years ago

    for the record, I'm a chemist and a physician. No particulate is especially good to inhale HOWEVER, hard rock miners used to get aluminum inhalation therapy to treat silicosis. Aluminum dust is a pulmonary irritant. While I've heard of asbestosis and silicosis, we didn't get much training on the dangers of "aluminosis". ?

    There is a lot that is unknown in the world of occupational health and welfare. That being said, there is no capris on between inhaling asbestos and inhaling aluminum powder. Where did you ever get such an idea?

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    ddzahnen2oh

    Reply 9 months ago

    I have to agree with you. Sorry, BlueFusion, but they did away with sand blasting because of the fine silica dust that resulted from slamming sand against things. When you would open the blast cabinet, you'd inhale it. They switched to a safer media: Aluminum oxide power. It still creates a very fine powder after being used for awhile BUT it is safer than sand.

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    tedjackBlueFusion

    Reply 2 years ago

    You are fulla Ballonie! The MSDS clearly states that it only causes
    respiratory irritation. Nothing about about masks and agonizing death.
    You need to re-educate yourself. Read the MSDS.

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    caplugBlueFusion

    Reply 1 year ago

    You are 100% correct. I was a machinist for 32 years.I started as a hand finisher.The quickest way to get fired was to not wear a respirator. And any metal dust is hazardous.Some more than others. Wear a respirator at least.

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    andy60BlueFusion

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    shit! i was makng thermite the other day, cutting up alluminum to get the powder... i feel fine and it's been three days?

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    BlueFusionandy60

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    cutting it up probably won't get anything like the necessary particle size. It works better for thermite if its finer too; try ripping open an etch-a-sketch.

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    schimmiBlueFusion

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    but then answer me this, why would they put poisonous compounds into a kid's toy that could easily break?

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    BlueFusionschimmi

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    They're not actually that easy to get into. :P I have also heard some new info that says its actually iron filings, not aluminium powder. So that may be why :P

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    andy60BlueFusion

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    woo thats a relief lol, al get some masks and try opening my etch-a-sketch! thanks

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    qualiaBlueFusion

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    woah ive been exposed to very very fine mesh Al dust.. i never bothered with breathing apparatus.. that was when i was making thermite.. amongst other more dangerous stuff. hmmmn and that was erm a year ago and i probabl sucked in alot coz it was visibly floating around in the air and i had my face right up next to the stuff i was making coz i was making complex lil containers for it =] gah i dont really care i have probably got alot more poisons in my body than alot of dead people. anywho wouldnt it oxidise once exposed to the environment inside a lung fairly quickly and become aluminium oxide? ah wait.. is that the bit where it gets unhealthy? oh well.. i've also ingested alot of ricin.. and other high toxins. but im still walking muahahaha i must be invincible!!!!!!! rarrr fear me!!!

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    BlueFusionqualia

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    yeah, i'd say you have probably shortened your lifespan by about 30 years... seriously go see a doctor dude.

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    qualiaBlueFusion

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    no its ok.. i believe i have also discovered the secret to immortal life as well.. and apparently ricin loses its effectiveness through exposure to stuff like air and water and it disintegrates into harmless stuff. :D and hey.. i plan to live to be 10000 so dont diss me for it. if it works i'll post an instructable.. :D

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    DavidT369

    2 years ago

    Potential Acute Health Effects:

    Slightly hazardous in case of skin contact (irritant). Non-irritating to the eyes. Non-hazardous in case of ingestion.

    Another individual talking out his rectal cavity, must be a liberal.

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    fancypants23

    4 years ago

    ive heard that star molecule aluminum powder is supposed to be the best aluminum to use, what type do u use?

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    The Ownist

    10 years ago on Step 1

    where can i get potassium perchlorate