How to Make a Rainbow of Rubber Stars

How to Make a Rainbow of Rubber Stars

Written by Harry Gilliam

Topics: How to Make Fireworks

The “rainbow” of star colors I’ll be discussing here builds on the methods detailed in the How to Make Screen-Sliced Brilliant-Red Rubber Stars project to expand your color palette of star choices.

Note: Be sure you learn and are familiar with that new way of making and priming stars before starting on this project!

The screen-sliced rubber stars production method has significant advantages for the small-scale hobbyist:

  • A full range of great colors with a small collection of chemicals
  • Simple and fast star-making process
  • Fast drying stars, which are great for on-site pyro-device manufacture
  • Very specific quantities of stars can be made, minimizing storage of excess stars
  • Matching-color rising tails for shells and rockets can be made at the same time as the stars
  • Metal particles may be added to the stars to create spark-trails behind the color-star heads

The introductory project focused on one basic star formula for “brilliant red” stars. At some point most fireworkers start to yearn for a wider variety of color stars and effects. They want to fill out the palette of potential star effects they have to choose from when making fireworks devices. Multiple colors and effects used in the same device, as seen in the photo below, can really make for interesting and beautiful fireworks.

A Pair of Amateur-Built “Stained Glass” (or “Kaleidoscope”) Shells
Photo by Tom Handel

So how do you make a rainbow of color stars to go with those charcoal stars and glitter stars, silver-spark tailed stars, or a nice white star? At the same time, can we get around the problems of using chemicals that are hard to obtain or require special drying?

The purpose of this project is to answer these questions with a set of well-balanced color star formulas that use easily available and relatively non-hygroscopic chemicals. These formulas are designed to work well with the screen-slicing method described in How to Make Screen-Sliced Brilliant-Red Rubber Stars.

Now if I were you, I’d be clamoring to get my paws on those formulas and itching to start getting my hands dirty right away. So, I’m going to give you the table of new formulas right up front. Your job for this project is to use these new formulas along with the screen-slicing process you learned in the red rubber stars project to make some of these beautifully colored stars and try them out.

However, when you’ve worn out your hands (or exhausted your pyro budget), come on back in here and read the two sections of this project that come after the star formula table below.

In the first one, “Pyrotechnic Color,” I’ll explain how these (and other) formulas work to create colored flames and how you can mix and modify them to create even more colors for your pyro palette.

Finally, in “Developing a System of Bright Stars using Carbonates,” I will show you how to approach a major pyro research project by explaining how I went about developing this one. In doing so, I’ll include many more useful color star formulas for you to try and experiment with.

Continue Reading: How to Make a Rainbow of Rubber Stars…

55 Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. i have received my rainbow star kit and have made up test batches of quite a few colars from the chart thats given to us in this kit, and my imagination took me a little further with a mix that created a beautiful pink and purple set of stars. these are my daughters fav… colors. well ,this is it, the chemicals skiligher has for this rainbow kit wells VERY WELL with the stars i,ve made, if yall don,t have a rainbow kit, well, your missing out on some beautiful colors and fun. i love to hear my families ahh,s and OH WHOWS AND SEE THEIR SMILES,,,,,,,BE SAFE AND HAVE FUN.

  2. Dushan says:

    Pls translate this composition grams or kg thanks

  3. basilpluss says:

    The kit to make the colored stars, i am going to buy it. But it doesnt say if it comes with NC lacquer. Do we need to buy the nc lacquer seperately?

  4. basilpluss says:

    so im a little confused on the chart. Under each color are decimal numbers, is that how many ounces of each item we use to get that specific color? I dont unerstand if the numbers are in ounces,grams,ect

  5. Willow Pearce says:

    Hi Ned, love your rubber stars. Could you guide me in grams instead of the way you weigh? I am in the UK. Thanks for your great tutorial. ( I want to use carbonate and MgAl)

  6. Robert says:

    First off I want to thank you all for such great information and products. This is my first year in this awesome hobby. Your rubber star kit is just amazing. I have made a batch of just about every color with great success. I do have one slight problem. Following the information and instructions to create the red stars I ran into something that I would guess I would not be the only one to have done it. In your information with the kit it continues to repeat the brilliant red star link. Now if one would follow those links and try to produce the brilliant red stars from the rainbow of stars kit. You will find out that all you get is a blob of rubber with a prime is the only thing that burns. I made 2, 8 ounce batch’s. Nothing! Can anyone guess the problem? Let me help you out. “read the labels” Read the formulas”. There is a big difference in the “strontium nitrate”, which is not in the kit and “strontium carbonate”. A lesson well learned on my end! Thank god it didn’t end in a catastrophic accident. Please, if you could, highly stress to us newbies the fact to read carefully.

  7. Sam says:

    Sorry, but these tutorials are quite unclear and I spend much time trying to guess everything (you said something about it in your e-mail, Harry – eh?) and I wish to see easier formulas – Red Gum as well as Parlon are despite high prices are hard to access and I won’t go for a rip off. Somehow Chinese managed to use fireworks without it, right?

  8. Dave says:

    When I wet my star comp with the acetone, it is very sticky and and will not come off my gloves. I can get some of of it off by rolling my gloves such as to make a sphere, but most of it is still on my glove. (Yes I’m using Nitrile gloves)

  9. Alex says:

    Hey there! I just tried a small batch of the red stars and they were beautiful!! A question though, can I ball-mill the combined ingrediants? I hesitate to do it because of the Pot-perc and the Alum. in the mix. My mill is in my basement, which I’d like to keep… Thanks for all the great info!!

  10. jeff evans says:

    wow wealth of info dont know how I missed this stuff,Ned how do you do it so much in such a small space and the techinical aspect blows me away Im not patronizing you Im always amaszed how people know all this stuff and still be able to execute it like you do “head bottle washer” I hope gives you a big bonus this year,Jeff

  11. Scottbrutus says:

    If i wanted to use my star pump for the rainbow rubber star kit how should i substitute the formulas to use dextrin

    • Jon says:


      Just add 5 parts dextrin and use 50/50 water alcohol instead of acetone for your binder. The acetone isn’t necessary, it’s just makes binding screen sliced stars easier and quicker drying. All of these comps can be easily rolled or pumped as well!

      I have used these in my star roller to make color changing stars for a while. They work great but the red gum can be messy in a star roller.

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