How to Make Pyrotechnic Whistle Mix

Written by Harry Gilliam

Topics: How to Make Fireworks

This is the first of three related projects that Ned is creating for you on how to make whistling fireworks. I want to preface them by saying one thing:

If you want to make whistles, this article can save your life!

Look, I think most of us build fireworks because we want to have fun. And whistles, when you see and hear them, are definitely awesome. But this is one area of fireworks making that, if it goes wrong, will definitely take the fun out of fireworks for you, and quite possibly for others in your life as well.

So, to anyone who has ever aspired to making a whistling rocket, or any other sort of fireworks whistle, read this fireworks-making project twice before starting.

Whistles are DANGEROUS. Whistle mix is highly explosive, and sensitive to just about everything you could inadvertently do: too much pressure, too much impact, or any friction, sparks or static electricity. Screw up and you’ll have a catastrophic explosion and possibly injure or even kill yourself.

Accidental Whistle Rocket Explosion

Accidental Whistle Explosion
Photo Courtesy Jerry Durand

Making whistles means equipment. You need a press and special tooling to start with. This can cost money and takes space. Don’t take this on, unless you’re ready to make the necessary investment in the kinds of good equipment that Ned shows you how to use in this project. Believe me, you cannot cut corners when making whistles: either you invest in the right equipment and learning, or you fail, possibly catastrophically.

Making whistle fireworks is not instant gratification. Whistle fuel takes time to make. And you have to be extraordinarily careful, and you cannot rush it.

Making a big whistling firework and using it in a fireworks display is a guaranteed crowd pleaser. It is something most of them will never have seen and heard before. This is a firework the big boys make and that audiences just love.

The satisfaction you can get from adding whistles to your aerial shells, or launching your first whistle and strobe rocket, is mind altering. It will pump you up like few other fireworks can.

Within this and the next two projects, you have what I consider to be the best tutorials ever written on making whistles and whistling fireworks (rockets, fountains, etc.). That means, that if you follow Ned’s instructions closely, you can pretty much be guaranteed of successfully making just about any kind of whistling firework you can imagine. It’s an opportunity to learn something that only pyrotechnic experts know how to do. And to do it well.

Harry Gilliam
Chief Cook & Bottle Washer

Often when making fireworks we focus on visual effects. But our ears can detect a lot of other effects that are going on. The special sound of a charcoal, core-burning rocket as it quickly “Whooshes” out of the launch tube is quite different than the slow “Shhhhhhhh” as an end-burner launches, and I enjoy the sound of them both.

For the Pyrotechnics Guild International’s convention I have made girandolas containing multitudes of these core-burning motors, and I eagerly look forward to hearing them as they rise skyward. It’s a bit like a jet engine taking off.

For a different sound, I have some girandolas, which have whistle motors on them, and I also have some of these whistlers on my competition Chromatrope wheel. Whistles add one more auditory dimension to fireworks effects, and while Saturn Missiles can wear thin on me after a while, I do enjoy a whistling effect occasionally.

Video of a Horizontal Wheel Driven by Two Whistles, Half Plain Whistle Composition, Half with Titanium Added

Click here to learn how to pyrotechnic whistles

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