For those of you who are having problems with your stars failing to ignite, here’s a star you should make to regain your confidence using a production method that has worked every time for me – with beautiful results.
The formula is one of Dave Bleser’s as shown in his book, Round Stars and Shells, with a modification in production and a slight addition to the formula. The addition is magnesium curl, which gives the stars a sparkling effect that is very apparent in large caliber shells.
So right off you can see these stars are to be used in “bigger bangers,” 6-inch and up, but I don’t see why they couldn’t be scaled down.
The production method will yield a suitably hard star that ignites easily with no prime at all!
A star pump, rubber mallet or arbor press, paper cup, and popsicle stick, are all the tools needed.
The solvent is acetone – never ever bind magnesium with water! There is no need to coat the magnesium to prevent corrosion.
The method: I put star comp in the cup, then add acetone a little at a time till I get a feel for the technique; stir with the popsicle stick and then when the binder has been activated, I fill the star pump and compress to make the star. That’s all there is to it. By using the cup, the acetone vapors, which are heavier than air, will remain in the cup and in contact with the star comp instead of spilling out into the room or cause moisture to condense into the stars – a very bad thing!
When the acetone has evaporated from the completed stars, they are ready.
The mesh size of magnesium that I used was the 100 mesh. The added magnesium curl is actually called Hollow Curl, available from Firefox [and Skylighter, #CH1080], which may cause a dramatic change in the sparkler effect if only a curl shaped slice of magnesium is used.
|Bleser Mag #7 & 8||Red||Green|
|Magnesium 100-200 mesh||28||18|
[All parts above are by weight.]
I break my Red Mag round shells with black powder pasted on cotton seeds, 50/50 by weight. The black powder I use is home milled for 1 hr. in a Sponenmill. Remember, serious pyros own a mill!
This article is just one of dozens of great fireworks making projects in the book Best of AFN VI, from American Fireworks News. Thanks to Randy Peck and to AFN for permission to reprint.