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Pyrotechnic Formulas: Flash, Burst Charges, Black Powder and Whistle Mix

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Chapter 6: Flash, Burst Charges and Whistle Mix

Flash #1
Source: Lancaster[2], listed as Thunder #1 .
Comments: The sulfur can be replaced by antimony trisulfide and the sound of a salute made with this composition will change very little.
Preparation:

potassium perchlorate.............................50
Aluminum..........................................23
sulfur............................................27

Flash #2
Source: rec.pyrotechnics, Listed as Ellern #121' in Ellern [4].
Comments:
Preparation:

potassium perchlorate.............................70
Aluminum (dark pyro)..............................30

Flash #3
Source: rec.pyrotechnics
Comments: Larger percentage of aluminum results in a stronger flash. This composition is slightly less sensitive than the usual perchlorate mixtures which also contain sulfur.
Preparation:

Potassium perchlorate.............................65...70%
Aluminum powder...................................rest (up to 100%)

Flash #4
Source: rec.pyrotechnics. Post by Mark Anthony Messina <messim3@hall103.its.rpi.edu
Comments:
Preparation:

Potassium perchlorate.............................3
Aluminum, 400 mesh................................3
Sulfur............................................1

Flash #5
Source: rec.pyrotechnics. Post by Bill Nelson <billn@hpcvaac.cv.hp.com. Composition from Allen s book.
Comments: This is a relatively safe flash composition. Burns with a brilliant white light in an open tube, or when unconfined. When well confined, it produces a loud, low pitched report and a short but intense flash.
Preparation:

Potassium nitrate.................................50
Sulfur............................................30
Aluminum..........................................20

Flash #6
Source: rec.pyrotechnics. Post by Patrick Arnold <pcats@cryton.demon.co.uk
Comments: Can be ignited by a fairly low temperature flame, and produces a greenish flash when magnesium is used. Burns very fast, and produces a loud report even in an open container.
Preparation:

Magnesium or Aluminum.............................1
Barium sulfate....................................1

Flash #7
Source: rec.pyrotechnics. Post by Barrie Hiern <ilikecpu@nevada.edu
Comments: Relatively insensitive.
Preparation:

Barium nitrate....................................4
Alumium (fine mesh)...............................2
sulfur............................................1

Flash #8
Source: PML mailing list, post by Bill Ofca <ofca@mhv.net
Comments:
Preparation: Dampen the mix lightly with water and mix thoroughly such that the material is crumbly but then packs tightly into a ball. If it is at all greasy feeling or mushy, there is way too much water. Save some dry mix on the side just in case it becomes too wet during the dampening. Granulate the damp comp by rubbing the packed ball over a 20 mesh screen. Do not use any screens larger than 20 mesh. If the screen plugs, the comp is too damp. Add more dry comp and thoughly mix in. After drying the granulated powder, it can be used in flash bags. About 3 to 5 grams works well in a 3 inch shell. Experimentation is needed to adjust the amount of burst for good results with different stars and shell construction. This powder can also be used ungranulated, in a central flash bag, in larger shells.

Potassium nitrate.................................3
Potassium perchlorate.............................3
Dark aluminum (USB 809)...........................3
Barium nitrate....................................1
Antimony sulfide (CN).............................1
Sulfur............................................1
Dextrin...........................................1/2

Flash #9
Source: rec.pyrotechnics. Post by Wouter Visser <wfvisser@stud.chem.ruu.nl
Comments: The use of permanganate in pyrotechnic compositions is not recommended, since it is unstable and will decompose over time. Also, like all flash mixtures, this mixture is quite sensitive and powerfull. Great care should be taken when handling this mixture.
Preparation:

Potassium permanganate............................12
Aluminum..........................................7
Sulfur............................................10

Flash #10
Source: Shimizu[1], Page 44
Comments: Listed as a report formulation.
Preparation:

Potassium perchlorate.............................70
Aluminum..........................................27
Sulfur............................................3

Flash #11
Source: Shimizu[1], Page 44
Comments: Listed as a report formulation. Shimizu states that this composition produces the loudest report obtainable with a pottasium perchlorate/aluminum/sulfur composition.
Preparation:

Potassium perchlorate.............................64
Aluminum..........................................23
Sulfur............................................13

Flash #12
Source: Shimizu[1]. Page 44
Comments: Listed as a report formulation. This composition produces slightly less noise than "Flash #11", but is safer to handle than similar compositions containing sulfur.
Preparation:

Potassium perchlorate.............................72
Aluminum..........................................28

Flash #13
Source: Lancaster[2], page 120
Comments: Listed as a report formulation
Preparation:

Barium nitrate....................................68
aluminum, dark pyro...............................23
Sulfur............................................9

H3 Bursting charge
Source: Shimizu[1]. Page 207
Comments: This energetic burst charge is used for small diameter shells (2...3 inch), since it makes a large and symmetrical burst possible. Besides the composition below, a ratio of chlorate to hemp coal of 10:3 is also popular. The sensitivity of this mixture to shock and friction is unexpectedly low, as long as the composition does not come into contact with sulfur or sulfur compounds.
Preparation:

Potassium chlorate................................75
Hemp coal (or Paulownia coal).....................25
Glutinous rice starch.............................+2%

Potassium perchlorate bursting charge #1
Source: Shimizu[1]. Page 208. Listed as KP burst charge
Comments: This energetic burst charge can be used for small shells, but is unsuitable for the smallest diameters (2...3 inch). It is much safer to handle than the H3 bursting charge since it contains no chlorates.
Preparation:

Potassium perchlorate.............................70
Hemp coal (or Paulownia coal).....................18
Sulfur............................................12
Glutinous rice starch.............................+2%

Potassium perchlorate bursting charge #2
Source: Shimizu[1]. Page 210
Comments: Shimizu lists this composition as burst charge No. 5 . This compositions sensitivity is quite low, although higher than that of black powder. The explosive force of this composition is lower than that of the Potassium perchlorate bursting charge #1 . This burst charge is often used in shells of middle and large diameter (6...10 inch).
Preparation:

Potassium perchlorate.............................70
Hemp coal (or Paulownia coal).....................30
Glutinous rice starch.............................+2%

Potassium perchlorate bursting charge #3
Source: Shimizu[1]. Page 210
Comments: Shimizu lists this composition as burst charge No. 44 . The potassium bichromate catalyses the decomposition of the potassium perchlorate. This composition s sensitivity is quite low, although higher than that of black powder. The explosive force of this composition is lower than that of the Potassium perchlorate bursting charge #1 . This burst charge is often used in shells of middle and large diameter (6...10 inch).
Preparation:

Potassium perchlorate.............................70
Hemp coal (or Paulownia coal).....................30
Potassium bichromate..............................5
Glutinous rice starch.............................+2%

Potassium perchlorate bursting charge #4
Source: Shimizu[1]. Page 210
Comments: Shimizu lists this composition as burst charge No. 46 . The potassium bichromate catalyses the decomposition of the potassium perchlorate. This composition s sensitivity is quite low, although higher than that of black powder. The explosive force of this composition is higher than that of the Potassium perchlorate bursting charge #1 , especially when the particle size of the carbon is small.
Preparation:

Potassium perchlorate.............................70
Hemp coal (or Paulownia coal).....................30
Lampblack.........................................25
Potassium bichromate..............................+5%
Glutinous rice starch.............................+2%

Smokeless flash powder
Source: "Mengen en Roeren"[6], page 224
Comments:
Preparation:

Zirconium.........................................28
Zirconium hydride.................................7
Magnesium.........................................7
Barium nitrate....................................30
Barium oxyde......................................25
Rice starch.......................................5

Photoflash
Source: Kirk-Otthmer chemical encyclopedia[8]. Chapter 'Explosives and Propellants'.
Comments: Heat of reaction: 8.989 kJ/g, Gas volume: 15 cm3/g, ignition temperature: 700 C, impact sensitivity test: 26% of TNT. half a pound of this flash delivers 120 million candlepowder. It is used in the M120A1 and M112A1 flare cartdriges.
Preparation:

Aluminum (20 micron; atomized)....................40
Potassium perchlorate (24 micron).................30
Barium nitrate (150 micron).......................30

Purple Flash
Source: rec.pyrotechnics
Comments:
Preparation:

Magnesium.........................................10
Potassium perchlorate.............................10
Cupric oxide......................................3
Strontium nitrate.................................3
PVC...............................................1

Yellow flash
Source: "Spelen met vuur"[9]
Comments:
Preparation:

Magnesium.........................................1
Sodium nitrate....................................6

Green flash
Source: rec.pyrotechnics
Comments:
Preparation:

potassium perchlorate.............................6
barium nitrate....................................3
Aluminum powder...................................5

Perchlorate/aluminum-based flash powders I
 

 

Lancaster 

Lancaster 

Lancaster 

Lancaster 

Lancaster 

Shimizu 

Ofca 

name 

European #1 

European #2 

U.S. mix #1 

U.S. mix #2 

U.S. mix #3 

Flash Thunder #1 

 

Potassium perchlorate 

66

70

67

63

60

50

60.8

Aluminum, German black

 

 

 

 

 

 

26.1

Aluminum, dark pyro

34

30

17

27

25

23

 

Sulfur

 

 

16

10

 

 

8.7

Antimony trisulfide 

 

 

 

 

15

27

 

Titanium, sponge (or flake)

 

 

 

 

 

 

4.3

Cab-O-Sil

 

 

 

 

 

 

0.1

 

Perchlorate/aluminum-based flash powders II
 

 

Shimizu 

Shimizu 

Allen

Allen 

Allen

Allen 

name 

Thunder #3 

Thunder #4 

Oma formula

Oma formula

 

Rozzi formula 

Potassium perchlorate 

64

72

62

62.5

64

50

Aluminum, dark pyro

23

28

11

12.5

18

31

Aluminum, -325 mesh

 

 

23

 

18

 

Sulfur

13

 

4

25

 

3

Antimony trisulfide 

 

 

 

 

 

16

 

Perchlorate/aluminum-based flash powders III
 

 

Pyro-Tec 

Allen 

Allen 

Allen 

Allen 

Allen 

name

 

Cba formula

Rozzi formula 

Orl formula 

Oma formula 

 

Potassium perchlorate 

50

48

61.5

57

56

62.6

Aluminum, dark pyro

25

36

23

11.5

31

26.2

Sulfur

25

 

 

28.5

13

11.2

Charcoal

 

 

 

3

 

 

Antimony trisulfide

 

16

15.5

 

 

 

 

Perchlorate/aluminum-based flash powders IV
 

 

Allen 

Klofkorn 

Allen

Allen 

Allen 

Hitt 

MC 341

name 

 

 

Craig formula 

 

Hit formula 

Patent 
1,253,597 

Mil-spec M-80 simulator

Potassium perchlorate 

58

61.5

40

25

47

46

64

Potassium nitrate

 

 

 

25

 

 

 

Sulfur

 

 

10

25

3

14

10

Antimony trisulfide

 

15.5

3

 

35

 

3.5

Aluminum, dark pyro

42

23

47

25

15

40

22.5

 

Perchlorate/aluminum-based flash powders V
 

 

Weingart 

Weingart 

PGI 

PGI 

PGI 

APFN

name

 

 

Titanium salute 

Titanium salute 

Titanium salute 

Tenge formula

Potassium perchlorate 

40

53

66

66

66

55

Sulfur

20

16

 

 

4

14

Antimony trisulfide

 

 

16.5

 

 

 

Aluminum, dark pyro

40

31

16.5

8

8

14

Aluminum, bright flake

 

 

 

26

22

 

Titanium, 30 mesh

 

 

+8 - 15

+8 - 15

+8 - 15

 

Bran (or sawdust, or wheat hulls)

 

 

 

 

 

17

 

Perchlorate/magnalium-based flash powders
 

 

PGI 

Potassium perchlorate 

50

Magnalium, -325 mesh 

50

 

Perchlorate/nitrate/aluminum-based flash powders
 

 

Allen

Allen 

Allen 

Allen 

Allen 

Degn 

name 

Young/Hitt Formula

Craig formula

 

 

 

 

Potassium perchlorate 

37

39

17

43

25

30

Barium nitrate

19

23

43

21

25

30

Sulfur

14

2

6

 

25

 

Antimony trisulfide

5

26

3

 

 

 

Aluminum, dark pyro

25

 

31

36

25

40

 

Perchlorate/magnesium-based flash powders

CAUTION: Magnesium-based flash powders are more sensitive and violent than those made with aluminum. Individuals inexperienced with flash are encouraged to avoid such compositions.
 

 

Lancaster 

Sturman 

Degn 

Degn 

APFN 

Lindsly 

Potassium perchlorate 

38

45

50

40

40

70

Magnesium, fine

57

50

50

34

35

12

Aluminum, dark pyro 

 

 

 

26

25

18

Graphite powder

5

 

 

 

 

 

Potassium dichromate 

 

5

 

 

 

 

Cab-o-sil

 

 

 

 

+0.1

 

 

Perchlorate-based report compositions I
 

 

Allen

Allen 

Allen 

Degn 

Allen 

Davis 

Allen 

Davis 

name

 

Craig formula

 

 

 

 

Hitt 
formula 

 

Potassium perchlorate 

57

38

78

70

55

84

55

34

Barium nitrate

 

23

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sulfur

38

2

19

 

18

 

10

 

Charcoal, airfloat

 

 

 

 

 

8

 

33

Antimony trisulfide

 

25

 

 

27

 

35

 

Sodium salicylate

 

 

 

30

 

 

 

 

Sawdust

5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rosin

 

10

 

 

 

8

 

33

Benzene

 

 

3

 

 

 

 

 

Meal A

 

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paraffin

 

 

+0.1 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Perchlorate-based report compositions II
 

 

Allen 

Psm 

name 

Hitt formula 

 

Potassium perchlorate 

55

59

Sulfur

3

30

Antimony trisulfide

42

 

Lampblack (or charcoal, 
airfloat) 

 

11

 

MAG/55 flash powder

CAUTION: Magnesium-based flash powders are more sensitive and violent than those made with aluminum. Individuals inexperienced with flash are encouraged to avoid such compositions.
 

 

Gregory 

Gregory 

name

Standard MAG/55 

Superbright MAG/55 

Potassium perchlorate 

64

60

Aluminum, German black 

15

15

Aluminum, American dark 

5

 

Aluminum, bright flake

5

5

Aluminum, atomized

1

 

Magnesium, 400 mesh 

5

10

Magnesium, 200 mesh

5

10

Cab-O-Sil

+2

+2

Wood meal

+2

+2

Potassium dichromate 

+1

+1

 

Photoflash powders I

CAUTION: Magnesium-based flash powders are more sensitive and violent than those made with aluminum. Individuals inexperienced with flash are encouraged to avoid such compositions.
 

 

Standard 
Formulary 

AMCP 

AMCP

SA Cyclopedia 

SA Cyclopedia 

name 

1899 composition

706-185 

706-185 

 

 

Potassium perchlorate 

 

 

40

 

 

Barium nitrate

 

54.5

 

 

49

Ammonium nitrate

6

 

 

 

 

Sulfur

 

 

 

 

6.5

Aluminum, flake

70.5

 

 

 

 

Magnalium, fine 

 

45.5

60

 

 

Magnesium, fine 

 

 

 

91

33

Lithium carbonate

 

 

 

4.5

 

Calcium carbonate

 

 

 

4.5

 

Lycopodium powder

23.5

 

 

 

 

Beef suet

 

 

 

 

11.5

 

Photoflash powders II

CAUTION: Magnesium-based flash powders are more sensitive and violent than those made with aluminum. Individuals inexperienced with flash are encouraged to avoid such compositions.

DANGER: Chlorate and sulfur/sulfide mixes are known to be very sensitive to shock, flame, spark and friction.

DANGER: Chlorate flash mixtures decompose faster than perchlorate flash mixtures and are more sensitive to shock, flame, spark and friction.

DANGER: Chlorate and red phosphorus mixes are extremely sensitive and highly dangerous, and can explode with little provocation. Even experienced individuals are encouraged to avoid such compositions.
 

 

Fortunes in 
Formulas

Fortunes in 
Formulas

Standard 
Formulary 

unknown 

SA Cyclopedia 

name 

 

 

1899 composition

Patent 3,674,411 

1899 composition

Potassium chlorate 

67

67

67

24.85

60

Aluminum, flake 

25

 

27

 

 

Magnesium, fine

 

33

 

 

30

Titanium powder

 

 

 

48.01

 

Sulfur

 

 

 

0.03

 

Antimony trisulfide 

 

 

 

 

10

Red phosphorus

 

 

 

24.85

 

Sucrose

8

 

6

 

 

Magnesium oxide

 

 

 

0.66

 

Sodium lignosulfonate 

 

 

 

0.23

 

Sodium 2-ethylhexyl 
sulfate

 

 

 

0.03

 

Trichlorophenol

 

 

 

0.04

 

Hydroxyethyl cellulose 

 

 

 

1.30

 

 

Photoflash powders III

CAUTION: Magnesium-based flash powders are more sensitive and violent than those made with aluminum. Individuals inexperienced with flash are encouraged to avoid such compositions.

CAUTION:Calcium metal and calcium hydride react with water exothermically to evolve hydrogen gas. Compositions containing calcium metal or calcium hydride should be sealed against moisture and not be stored.

DANGER: Potassium permanganate mixes are regarded as sensitive and unstable. They should not be stored under any circumstances.

DANGER: Chlorate flash mixtures decompose faster than perchlorate flash mixtures and are more sensitive to shock, flame, spark and friction.

DANGER: Barium peroxide is unstable and prone to spontaneous decomposition. Flash mixtures made with barium peroxide should not be stored under any circumstances, and extreme caution must be exercised when handling such compositions.
 

 

unknown 

TM1316

SA Cyclopedia 

MC277 

Ellern

PSM

name 

Patent 
2,098,341 

 

1899 composition 

 

#50

 

Potassium perchlorate

 

 

 

 

80

24

Strontium perchlorate 

 

20

 

 

 

 

Potassium chlorate

 

 

 

 

 

14

Potassium permanganate

 

 

40

 

 

 

Barium nitrate

 

 

 

54.5

 

34

Barium peroxide

 

 

20

 

 

 

Aluminum, flake 

12.5

 

 

+4

 

 

Magnesium, fine 

54

 

40

 

 

28

Magnalium, fine

 

 

 

45.5

 

 

Calcium/magnesium 75/25 

 

80

 

 

 

 

Calcium metal

 

 

 

 

20

 

Calcium carbonate 

21

 

 

 

 

 

Magnesium oxide 

4.5

 

 

 

 

 

Silica

8

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photoflash powders IV

CAUTION: Magnesium-based flash powders are more sensitive and violent than those made with aluminum. Individuals inexperienced with flash are encouraged to avoid such compositions.

CAUTION:Calcium metal and calcium hydride react with water exothermically to evolve hydrogen gas. Compositions containing calcium metal or calcium hydride should be sealed against moisture and not be stored.


 

 

AMCP

Kirk-Otthmer

AMCP 

Ellern

Ellern 

TM1316

name 

706-185 

 

M46 Photoflash 
Bomb 

#49

#48

Pfp 054

Potassium perchlorate 

 

30

40

50

49

 

Barium nitrate

60

30

 

 

 

60 (21 )

Aluminum, flake

10

40

26

20

31

9 (1.4 )

Aluminum, atomized 

30

 

 

 

 

31 (16 )

Magnesium, fine

 

 

34

 

 

 

Calcium metal

 

 

 

30

 

 

Calcium fluoride

 

 

 

 

20

 

 

Photoflash powders V

CAUTION:Calcium metal and calcium hydride react with water exothermically to evolve hydrogen gas. Compositions containing calcium metal or calcium hydride should be sealed against moisture and not be stored.
 

 

Ellern 

TM1316 

TM1316

TM1316 

TM1316 

TM1316 

TM1316

name 

#47

Pfp 648 

Pfp 661

Pfp 673 

Pfp 675 

Pfp 679

Pfp 685

Potassium perchlorate 

60

 

 

67

80

 

 

Sodium perchlorate 

 

 

15

 

 

57

 

Strontium nitrate

 

 

 

 

 

 

70 (30 )

Barium nitrate

 

50 (147 ) 

 

 

 

 

 

Aluminum, flake 

40

50

 

 

 

43

 

Aluminum, atomized

 

 

 

 

 

 

30 (16 ) 

Silicon 

 

 

 

33

 

 

 

Calcium

 

 

85

 

 

 

 

Boron

 

 

 

 

20

 

 

 

Photoflash powders VI

CAUTION: Magnesium-based flash powders are more sensitive and violent than those made with aluminum. Individuals inexperienced with flash are encouraged to avoid such compositions.

CAUTION:Calcium metal and calcium hydride react with water exothermically to evolve hydrogen gas. Compositions containing calcium metal or calcium hydride should be sealed against moisture and not be stored.
 

 

TM1316

TM1316

TM1316 

TM1316 

TM1316 

TM1316

TM1316 

name 

Pfp 694

Pfp 695

Pfp 716

Pfp 717

Pfp 718

Pfp 723

Pfp 726

Potassium perchlorate 

 

35

56

72

20

45

43

Sodium perchlorate 

37

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aluminum, atomized

10 (16 )

 

 

 

 

20 (16 )

27

Calcium hydride

53

65

 

 

 

 

 

Calcium/magnesium 75/25 

 

 

 

 

 

35

 

Calcium fluoride

 

 

 

 

 

 

30

Potassium borohydride 

 

 

44

28

80

 

 

 

Photoflash powders VII

CAUTION: Magnesium-based flash powders are more sensitive and violent than those made with aluminum. Individuals inexperienced with flash are encouraged to avoid such compositions.

DANGER: Chlorate and sulfur/sulfide mixes are known to be very sensitive to shock, flame, spark and friction.

DANGER: Chlorate flash mixtures decompose faster than perchlorate flash mixtures and are more sensitive to shock, flame, spark and friction.
 

 

TM1316

SA Cyclopedia

SA Cyclopedia

unknown 

name 

Pfp 699

Slow photoflash 

Slow photoflash 

Patent 3,726,728

Potassium perchlorate 

20

 

 

 

Sodium perchlorate

 

 

 

31.4 (+60)

Lithium perchlorate

 

 

 

68.6

Potassium chlorate

 

18

9

 

Barium nitrate

 

10

36

 

Sulfur

 

 

6

 

Aluminum, flake

 

 

 

(+40)

Magnesium, fine

 

36

30

 

Calcium/magnesium 75/25 

80

 

 

 

Shellac

 

36

 

 

Beef suet

 

 

19

 

 

Chlorate/aluminum-based flash powders I

DANGER: Chlorate and sulfur/sulfide mixes are known to be very sensitive to shock, flame, spark and friction.

DANGER: Chlorate flash mixtures decompose faster than perchlorate flash mixtures and are more sensitive to shock, flame, spark and friction.
 

 

Shimizu 

Klofkorn 

Allen 

Pyro-Tec

Allen 

Davis 

name

Flash Thunder #2

Firecracker mix 

 

 

 

 

Potassium chlorate 

43

27

63

67

52

64

Potassium perchlorate 

 

29

 

 

 

 

Antimony trisulfide 

26

14

9

 

32

9

Sulfur

 

10

18

 

 

16

Sucrose

 

 

 

8

 

 

Aluminum, dark pyro

31

20

10

25

16

9

 

Chlorate/aluminum-based flash powders II

DANGER: Chlorate and sulfur/sulfide mixes are known to be very sensitive to shock, flame, spark and friction.

DANGER: Chlorate/realgar mixes are extremely sensitive and highly dangerous, and can explode with little provocation. Even experienced individuals are encouraged to avoid such compositions.

DANGER: Chlorate flash mixtures decompose faster than perchlorate flash mixtures and are more sensitive to shock, flame, spark and friction.
 

 

Allen

Degn 

Allen 

Allen

Allen 

Allen 

Allen 

Allen 

Howell Labs 

name 

 

 

 

Rozzi 
formula 

Rozzi 
formula 

 

 

Rozzi 
formula 

 

Potassium chlorate 

61.5

50

41

67

55

61.5

30

50

30

Potassium nitrate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20

Barium nitrate

 

 

3

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aluminum, dark pyro 

23

16

16

16.5

27

15

40

25

25

Sulfur

 

 

 

16.5

 

8.5

30

25

25

Antimony trisulfide 

15.5

16

6

 

18

15

 

 

 

Realgar

 

 

34

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lampblack

 

16

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Barium carbonate

 

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chlorate/aluminum-based flash powders III

DANGER: Chlorate and sulfur/sulfide mixes are known to be very sensitive to shock, flame, spark and friction.

DANGER: Chlorate flash mixtures decompose faster than perchlorate flash mixtures and are more sensitive to shock, flame, spark and friction.
 

 

Weingart 

Allen 

Allen 

Potassium chlorate 

55

47

61.5

Sulfur

27

 

 

Antimony trisulfide

 

6

8

Aluminum, dark pyro 

9

47

30.5

Charcoal

9

 

 

 

Chlorate/magnesium-based flash powders

CAUTION: Magnesium-based flash powders are more sensitive and violent than those made with aluminum. Individuals inexperienced with flash are encouraged to avoid such compositions.

DANGER: Chlorate flash mixtures decompose faster than perchlorate flash mixtures and are more sensitive to shock, flame, spark and friction.
 

 

Pyro-Tec 

Pyro-Tec 

Potassium chlorate 

69

43

Magnesium

31

57

 

Chlorate-based report compositions I

DANGER: Chlorate and red phosphorus/realgar mixes are extremely sensitive and highly dangerous, and can explode with little provocation. Even experienced individuals are encouraged to avoid such compositions.

DANGER: Chlorate and sulfur/sulfide mixes are known to be very sensitive to shock, flame, spark and friction.
 

 

Shimizu 

Shimizu

Chemical
Formulary

Allen 

Allen

Allen

name 

Red Explosive 

Toy Pistol Cap 

 

 

Lang formula 

 

Potassium chlorate 

63

60

8

58

63

74

Potassium nitrate

 

 

45

 

 

 

Red gum

 

 

 

 

 

19

Realgar

37

 

 

 

 

 

Antimony trisulfide 

 

 

 

33

 

 

Charcoal

 

 

25

 

3

5

Red phosphorus 

 

8

 

 

 

 

Sulfur

 

32

18

 

32

 

Rosin

 

 

 

9

 

 

Zinc carbonate

 

 

 

 

1

 

Stearin

 

 

 

 

1

 

Sand

 

 

4

 

 

 

Dextrin

 

 

 

 

 

2

 

Chlorate-based report compositions II

DANGER: Chlorate and sulfur/sulfide mixes are known to be very sensitive to shock, flame, spark and friction.
 

 

Allen

Allen 

Davis

Weingart

Howell Labs 

Allen

Allen 

name

 

Rozzi formula 

 

 

 

 

 

Potassium chlorate 

57

50

50

67

63

50

55

Potassium nitrate 

 

 

 

 

11

 

 

Sulfur

 

12.5

 

22

21

 

 

Charcoal, airfloat

 

 

 

 

 

25

 

Antimony trisulfide 

29

37.5

50

 

5

 

36

Antimony powder

 

 

 

11

 

 

 

Rosin

14

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red gum

 

 

 

 

 

25

9

 

Chlorate-based report compositions III

DANGER: Chlorate and sulfur/sulfide mixes are known to be very sensitive to shock, flame, spark and friction.
 

 

Allen 

Allen 

Howell Labs 

Weingart 

Weingart 

Faber 

Potassium chlorate 

57

56

56

60

60

67

Potassium nitrate

 

 

 

12

 

 

Sulfur

 

 

31

23

30

16.5

Antimony trisulfide 

33

15

 

5

 

 

Charcoal, airfloat 

 

 

 

 

10

16.5

Lampblack

 

 

13

 

 

 

Calcium carbonate 

 

29

 

 

 

 

Rosin

10

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nitrate/aluminum-based flash powders

CAUTION: Nitrate/aluminum compositons commonly create basic conditions evolving heat, which may lead to spontaneous combustion. 1% to 2% of boric acid should be added to counter the reaction.
 

 

Allen 

Lancaster 

MC 340 

Allen 

Miller 

Miller 

name

 

 

 

 

Bangor powder 

Bangor powder 

Potassium nitrate 

50

 

 

 

67

60

Barium nitrate

 

68

 

57

 

 

Sulfur

30

9

 

14

16.5

10

Aluminum, dark pyro 

20

23

9

29

16.5

30

Meal A

 

 

91

 

 

 

 

Nitrate/magnesium-based flash powders

CAUTION: Magnesium-based flash powders are more sensitive and violent than those made with aluminum. Individuals inexperienced with flash are encouraged to avoid such compositions.
 

 

Mendota 

Danvisevich 

Potassium nitrate 

 

23.5

Barium nitrate 

67

 

Strontium nitrate 

 

6

Sulfur

 

23.5

Magnesium, fine 

33

47

 

Exotic flash powders I

CAUTION: Magnesium-based flash powders are more sensitive and violent than those made with aluminum. Individuals inexperienced with flash are encouraged to avoid such compositions.

DANGER: Potassium permanganate mixes are regarded as sensitive and unstable. They should not be stored under any circumstances.
 

 

Visser 

Visser 

Visser

Degn 

Visser 

Visser 

Edel 

name

Green flash 

 

Permanganate 
flash

Purple flash 

Green flash

Yellow flash 

Smokeless flash 

Potassium perchlorate

 

 

 

37

43

 

 

Zirconium hydride 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7

Potassium permanganate 

 

 

41

 

 

 

 

Strontium nitrate

 

 

 

11

 

 

 

Barium sulfate

50

50

 

 

 

 

 

Sodium nitrate

 

 

 

 

 

86

 

Barium nitrate

 

 

 

 

21

 

29

Barium oxide

 

 

 

 

 

 

25

Magnesium, -400 mesh

50

 

 

37

 

14

7

Aluminum, dark pyro

 

50

24

 

36

 

 

Sulfur

 

 

35

 

 

 

 

Black copper oxide

 

 

 

11

 

 

 

PVC

 

 

 

4

 

 

 

Zirconium

 

 

 

 

 

 

27

Rice starch 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5

 

Exotic flash powders II

CAUTION: Magnesium-based flash powders are more sensitive and violent than those made with aluminum. Individuals inexperienced with flash are encouraged to avoid such compositions.

DANGER: Potassium permanganate mixes are regarded as sensitive and unstable. They should not be stored under any circumstances.
 

 

APFN

Pyro-Tec

Degn, Lippy, 
Palder

Degn 

Degn 

Davis 

name 

 

Red flash 

Redflash

Violet flash 

Yellow flash 

 

Potassium perchlorate

 

 

 

 

33

 

Potassium chlorate

 

12

 

 

 

 

Potassium permanganate 

80

 

 

 

 

60

Strontium nitrate

 

 

50

24

 

 

Sulfur

10

 

 

 

 

 

Aluminum, dark pyro

10

 

 

 

 

40

Magnesium, fine

 

50

50

48

34

 

Strontium carbonate

 

38

 

 

 

 

Paris green

 

 

 

24

 

 

Black copper oxide

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sodium oxalate

 

 

 

 

33

 

PVC

 

 

 

4

 

 

  

Exotic flash powders III

CAUTION: Magnesium-based flash powders are more sensitive and violent than those made with aluminum. Individuals inexperienced with flash are encouraged to avoid such compositions.

CAUTION: Magnesium/teflon mixtures have been known to ignite spontaneously, however circumstances surrounding such incidents are not well known. Individuals intending on making such a composition are urged to exercise extreme caution.

DANGER: Chlorate flash mixtures decompose faster than perchlorate flash mixtures and are more sensitive to shock, flame, spark and friction.

DANGER: Barium chlorate is unstable and prone to spontaneous decomposition. Flash mixtures made with barium chlorate should not be stored under any circumstances, and extreme caution must be exercised when handling such compositions.
 

 

Degn

Pyro-Tec

APFN 

APFN

Pyro-Tec

Degn 

PEP 12(1)

name 

Green flash

Green flash 

Sanford 
formula 

Sanford 
formula

Blue flash

Blue flash 

M22

Potassium perchlorate 

 

 

 

 

 

42.5

 

Potassium chlorate 

 

11

 

 

32

 

 

Barium chlorate

 

36

 

 

 

 

 

Barium nitrate 

48

 

 

 

 

 

 

Calcium sulfate

 

 

57

64

 

 

 

Aluminum, dark pyro 

 

 

 

36

 

 

 

Magnesium, fine

48

46

43

 

42

42.5

75

Paris green

 

 

 

 

22.5

13

 

Teflon

 

 

 

 

 

 

10

PVC

4

7

 

 

3.5

2

 

Fluorelastomer

 

 

 

 

 

 

15

 

Exploding target compositions

DANGER: Chlorate and sulfur/sulfide mixes are known to be very sensitive to shock, flame, spark and friction.

DANGER: Chlorate flash mixtures decompose faster than perchlorate flash mixtures and are more sensitive to shock, flame, spark and friction.

CAUTION: Magnesium-based flash powders are more sensitive and violent than those made with aluminum. Individuals inexperienced with flash are encouraged to avoid such compositions.
 
 

 

Krywonizka

Potassium chlorate 

60

Sulfur

10

Antimony trisulfide 

10

Magnesium, 200 mesh 

10

Aluminum, -325 mesh 

10

Calcium carbonate

+5

comments

Reliably ignites from impact of 
standard velocity .22 LR projectile 

 

Whistle mix #1
Source: rec.pyrotechnics. Composition from Ellern[4].
Comments:
Preparation:

Potassium perchlorate.............................72.5
Sodium salicylate.................................27.5

Whistle mix #2
Source: rec.pyrotechnics. Composition from Ellern[4].
Comments:
Preparation:

Potassium nitrate.................................30
Potassium dinotrophenate..........................70

Whistle mix #3
Source: rec.pyrotechnics. Composition from Ellern[4] and Shimizu[1].
Comments:
Preparation:

Potassium perchlorate.............................70
Sodium benzoate...................................30

Whistle mix #4
Source: rec.pyrotechnics. Composition from Oztap
Comments:
Preparation:

Potassium chlorate................................40
Sodium chlorate...................................10
Potassium nitrate.................................30
Sodium salicylate.................................10
Paraffin oil......................................10
Ferric oxide......................................+0.2

Whistle mix #5
Source: rec.pyrotechnics. Composition from Lancaster[2].
Comments: This mixture is quite sensitive to friction and shock.

CAUTION: Whistle compositions have a very high rate of burning and are considered explosive. Extreme caution must be exercised when preparing whistle compositions.

DANGER: Potassium picrate is a dangerously sensitive and powerful explosive compound. Its use is strongly discouraged.

DANGER: Potassium chlorate and gallic acid mixes are highly sensitive to mechanical action, and can ignite when loading. Use of such mixtures is strongly discouraged.

DANGER: Chlorate whistle compositions are sensitive to mechanical action. Use of such mixtures is discouraged.

Whistle Compositions I
 

 

Shimizu

Shimizu

Lancaster 

Shimizu

Lancaster 

Ellern 

Ellern 

Oztap

Potassium picrate 

63

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Potassium nitrate

37

 

 

 

 

 

 

30

Potassium perchlorate 

 

 

75

70

70

72.5

70

 

Potassium chlorate

 

75

 

 

 

 

 

40

Sodium chlorate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10

Sodium salicylate

 

 

25

 

 

27.5

 

10

Gallic acid

 

25

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sodium/potassium benzoate 

 

 

 

30

 

 

 

 

Potassium hydrogen terephthalate 

 

 

 

 

30

 

 

 

Potassium dinitrophenate

 

 

 

 

 

 

30

 

Paraffin oil

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10

Red iron oxide

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

+0.2

 

Whistle Compositions II
 

 

Ellern

Ellern

Chemical Formulary

Chemical Formulary

Oztap

Oztap

Oztap

Potassium picrate

 

50

 

 

 

 

 

Potassium nitrate

 

50

 

 

 

20

10

Potassium chlorate

73

 

67

66.5

80

50

60

Barium chlorate

 

 

5

 

 

 

 

Sodium chlorate

 

 

 

 

10

10

10

Sodium salicylate

 

 

 

 

9

10

10

Gallic acid

24

 

28

33.5

 

 

 

Red gum

3

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paraffin oil

 

 

 

 

 

10

10

Vaseline

 

 

 

 

10

 

 

Red iron oxide

 

 

 

 

1

+0.2

+0.2

 


Preparation:

Potassium chlorate................................75
Gallic acid.......................................25

Perchlorate-based bursting charges
 

 

Shimizu 

Shimizu 

Shimizu 

Shimizu 

unknown 

unknown 

name

KP

No.5

No.44

No.46

 

Whistle mix 

Potassium perchlorate 

70

70

70

70

70

70

Sulfur

12

 

 

 

 

 

Charcoal

18

30

30

 

 

 

Lampblack

 

 

 

25

 

 

Aluminum, German black 

 

 

 

 

30

 

Sodium benzoate

 

 

 

 

 

30

Potassium dichromate

 

 

+5

+5

 

 

Dextrin

+2

+2

+2

+2

 

 

 

Chlorate-based bursting charges

CAUTION: Chlorate-based compositions are more sensitive and violent than nitrate or perchlorate-based compositions.
 

 

Shimizu

Rozzi

Rozzi

name

H3

Small shell

Small shell

Potassium chlorate 

77

83.4

80

Charcoal

23

8.3

10

Lampblack

 

 

10

Rosin

 

8.3

 

Dextrin

+2

 

 

 

Nitrate-based bursting charges
 

 

Shimizu 

name 

BP

Potassium nitrate 

75

Sulfur

10

Charcoal

15

Dextrin

+2

 

Ofca bursting charge
 

 

Ofca

Potassium perchlorate 

23

Potassium nitrate

22

Barium nitrate

11

Sulfur

11

Antimony trisulfide

11

Aluminum, flake, 325 mesh 

22

 

Burst composition to carrier ratios

Note: It is not necessary to employ a carrier such as rice hulls or cotton seeds for aerial shell bursts, but using one does spread the fire more rapidly throughout the burst composition. It also conserves the amount of burst composition used by filling some of the space in the shell or flash bag. The following ratios are suggestions only; experimentation through trial and error with various burst charges, with or without carriers, is the best way to decide what is right to use.
 

 

Shimizu 

Shimizu 

Shimizu 

shell size 

3" and smaller 

4" to 6" 

8" and larger 

Burst composition 

80

52

52

Carrier

20

48

48

Burst type

Perchlorate-based 

Perchlorate-based, 
chlorate-based 

Perchlorate-based, 
nitrate-based 

 

Bursting charge amounts for chrysanthemum shells

Note: The following bursting charge amounts are suggestions only; experimentation through trial and error with various burst charges and the amount used is the best way to decide what is right to use.
 

 

Shimizu 

Shimizu 

Shimizu 

Shimizu 

Shimizu 

Shimizu 

Shimizu

shell diameter 

3" 

4" 

5" 

6" 

8" 

10"

12"

Bursting charge amount 

40 g 

56 g 

70 g 

140 g

395 g

950 g

1250 g 

NOTE: Black powder is the one composition in pyrotechnics that varies greatly from type to type. The most important component of black powder (BP) is charcoal. It is important to use a very reactive charcoal such as willow or grapevine that contains many volatiles (oxygen and hydrogen) to increase the speed of burning.

Simply mixing the three components together does not give good results. It is usually wise to "impregnate" the charcoal with the potassium nitrate by ball milling the two chemicals together for several hours, or by the precipitation method where the potassium nitrate is dissolved in hot water and charcoal is added.

The following table gives a number of BP formulas. If a specific type charcoal is required for a composition, it will be noted in brackets beside the charcoal percentage. Bear in mind that if the charcoal is not very reactive the BP will merely fizzle and burn slowly. Examples of unreactive charcoals are activated charcoal, and barbeque briquettes which usually contain clay.

General black powder

NOTE: The term "general" is applied loosely here, referring to any black powder composition that was not designed for a specific purpose, or if it was then the specific application was not given.
 

 

Watson

Graecus

Graecus

Graecus

Bacon 

Bacon

Urbanski

name 

Standard BP 

(composition as 
of 8th century) 

(composition as 
of 8th century) 

Ignis Volatilis 

(composition 
as of 1249) 

(composition 
as of 1252) 

(composition 
as of 1300)

Potassium nitrate 

75

66.66

69.22

50

41

37.5

67

Charcoal

15

22.22

23.07

 

29.5

31.25

16.5

Sulfur

10

11.11

7.69

25

29.5

31.25

16.5

Resin

 

 

 

25

 

 

 

 

General black powder II
 

 

Arderne 

Whitehorne 

Bruxelles Studies 

British Government

Allen

Allen

Allen

name

(laboratory recipe, 
composition as of 1350) 

(composition 
as of 1560) 

(composition 
as of 1560)

(powder made under contract, 
composition as of 1635) 

typical

typical

Sodium powder

Potassium nitrate 

66.6

50.0

75.0

75.0

76

72.7

 

Sodium nitrate 

 

 

 

 

 

 

71

Charcoal

22.2

33.3

15.62

12.5

12

18.2

16.5

Sulfur

11.1

16.6

9.38

12.5

12

9.1

12.5

 

Lift-specific powder

NOTE: The following composition is optimized for firing aerial shells from fireworks mortars.
 

 

Pyrotechnics Guild 
International 

name

PGI optimum 

Potassium nitrate 

74

Charcoal 

14

Sulfur

12

 

Firearms-specific powder

NOTE: These compositions are intended for firing projectiles from small-bore, hand-held weapons. They may also be used for lifting aerial shells from fireworks mortars, however some testing as to the suitability of a certain composition might be necessary.

CAUTION: Cocoa powders are more sensitive to friction than ordinary black powder. Accidents have resulted from shaking of the composition in a canvas sack.
 

 

Davis 

Davis 

Davis 

Davis 

Davis

Noble and Abel 

name 

English Cocoa 
powder I 

English Cocoa 
Powder II 

German Cocoa 
Powder I 

German Cocoa 
Powder II

French Cocoa 
Powder

Cocoa powder

Potassium nitrate 

79

77.4

78

80

78

80

Charcoal 

18 (rye straw)

17.6 (rye straw) 

19 (rye straw) 

20 (rye straw) 

19 (rye straw) 

18 (rye straw)

Sulfur

3

5

3

 

3

2

 

Military-specific powder

NOTE: The following compositions were used in France for military purposes. Specific applications are listed in the table. A date as to when these compositions were put into use was not given.
 

 

Urbanski 

Urbanski 

Urbanski

Urbanski 

Urbanski 

Allen

name 

Cannon

Sporting 

Normal (rifle powder) 

Cannon modified

Delay fuse powder 

Navy BP

Potassium nitrate 

75

78

75

78

75

76

Charcoal 

12.5

12

15

19

13-15

14

Sulfur

12.5

10

10

3

10-12

10

grain size

7 - 21 mm 

0.1 - 1 mm 

various

hexagonal "nut"

0.3 - 0.6 mm

 

 

Blasting-specific powder I
 

 

Urbanski 

Urbanski 

Urbanski 

Urbanski 

Urbanski 

Urbanski 

Urbanski 

Urbanski 

Urbanski 

name 

Strong blasting 

Slow blasting 

No.1 blasting powder 

No.1 Bobbinite 

No.2 Bobbinite 

No.1 black blasting powder 

American blasting powder 

No.3 black blasting powder (Petroclastite or Haloclastite) 

No.2 black blasting powder 

Potassium nitrate 

75

40

73-77

62-65

63-66

 

 

 

 

Sodium nitrate

 

 

 

 

 

70-75

70-74

71-76

70-75

Charcoal

15

30

10-15

17-19.5

18.5-20.5

10-16

15-17

15-19 of coal-tar pitch

10-16 of lignite

Sulfur

10

30

8-15

1.5-2.5

1.5-2.5

9-15

11-13

9-11

9-15

Paraffin

 

 

 

2.5-3.5

 

 

 

 

 

Starch

 

 

 

 

7-9

 

 

 

 

Ammonium sulfate and copper sulfate 

 

 

 

13-17

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blasting-specific powder II
 

 

Davis 

Davis 

Davis

name

French Forte 

French Lente 

French Ordinaire 

Potassium nitrate 

72

40

62

Charcoal 

15

30

18

Sulfur

13

30

20

 

Ammonium-based powders

NOTE: These compositions were generally used as propellants, but have been largely superceded by smokeless nitrocellulose mixtures.

CAUTION: Ammonium picrate is a sensitive high explosive.

DANGER: Potassium picrate is a very sensitive high explosive.
 

 

Gaens 

unknown

Brugere

Starke

name 

Amide powder 

Ammonpulver 

Brugere powder 

Gold Dust Powder 

Ammonium nitrate 

35-38

85

 

 

Potassium nitrate 

40-45

 

57

 

Charcoal

14-22

15

 

 

Ammonium picrate 

 

 

43

55

Potassium picrate

 

 

 

25

Ammonium dichromate 

 

 

 

20

 

Sulfurless powders
 

 

Lancaster 

Noble 

Noble 

Thomas 

name 

Sulfurless powder 

Sulfurless powder 

Sulfurless powder 
(stoichiometric) 

Sulfurless powder 
SFG.12 

Potassium nitrate 

70.5

80

87.1

70

Charcoal

29.5

20

12.9

30

 

Fireworks-specific powders
 

 

Allen

name 

'A' Dust

Potassium nitrate 

67.1

Sulfur

16.8

Charcoal

12.5

Dextrin

0.7

Water

2.9

 

Miscellaneous black powder
 

 

Allen

Guida

name 

Hammer powder 

Hammer powder 

Potassium nitrate 

66.7

73.8

Sulfur

8.3

7.7

Charcoal

25

18.5