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Pyrotechnic Projects: Whistlers

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Potassium Perchlorate


Potassium Benzoate or Sodium Benzoate


Potassium Perchlorate


Sodium Salicylate


The reaction that causes the whistling effect is the layer-to-layer oscillating burn of the firmly compressed composition with the containment tube acting much like a resonator. Be careful, this is a high energy mixture that can explode with friction/impact. Grind the Potassium Perchlorate ALONE in a mortar & pestle until it is a very fine powder (unless it's that way already). Do the same to the Sodium Benzoate unless it is already as fine as Talcum Powder. Note that the Sodium Benzoate must be VERY fine, and mixed VERY well with the Potassium Perchlorate for this mixture to work properly. Pass the mixture through a screen several times to mix the two together. It is important that this formula be mixed very well and be in a fine powered state. Pour the Whistle Mix into a zip-loc plastic baggie, seal it, and shake it back & forth just to make sure the composition is well mixed. Don't ever grind the two ingredients together as the mixture may explode. Never grind, pound, or subject this mixture to friction as it may explode.


To make a Whistle, seal off one end of a heavy wall cardboard tube with Plaster of Paris or a quantity of heat glue, or some rocket nozzle mix. The tube should be heavy walled cardboard and the length should be 3 times the inside diameter. If the tube is too long, results will be poor. The larger the diameter, the louder and less pitch the whistle will be. Experimenting with different tube diameters and lengths will reveal a variety of pitch and tone. Tubes with a 3/8” to 5/8” inside diameter work well. Using a wooden dowel the same diameter as the inside of the tube, press small increments of Whistle Mix into the tube. Press hard to pack it in, but do not bang on the dowel. Fill the tube only 1/2 full (whistles need a lot of empty space in the tube). Stick in a length of Visco Safety Fuse and make sure it touches the powder inside. Push the tube into the ground so it stays put, stand back and light the fuse.