Easy Red & Green Twinkling Mag Stars

Written by Randy Peck

Topics: How to Make Fireworks

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
Strontium Nitrate 55 -
Barium Nitrate - 55
PVC 7 15
Parlon 10 12
Magnesium 100-200 mesh 28 18
Magnesium Curl +10 +10

[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.

Get all the chemicals you need to make these stars at

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

  1. jeff evans says:

    this is a great formula and very forgiving as I substituted the magnesium with mag/al 325 mesh then bound with polyvinyl alcohol and it makes a great twinkler.

  2. albert garcia says:

    hey Harry Gilliam

    my name is Albert Garcia

    i have a small problem i have bin trying to make white stars or quite a long time now
    and i I’m failing miserably !! can you give me some tips on how to make white tiger stars?
    i don’t know the chemicals that i need to do this type of star.
    If you can tell me the chemicals i need to do this project i will
    be more than happy to buy them of your web site skylighter.com

    !!! thank you!!!

  3. Randy Peck says:

    In Dave Blesers book,”Round Stars and Shells”, he describes how important it is to protect the magnesium thus you’ve asked a very good question!

    He states the Parlon (chlorinated rubber) and PVC in the formula is what best protects the magnesium from moisture.

    None of my magnesium stars that I’ve made (correctly) deteriorated in storage. Those that did not have enough acetone to fully activate the Parlon and PVC literally fell apart. This is an important point when making these stars- the acetone evaporates very quickly and as you make your stars, you should keep adding more acetone to keep the binders activated.

    The nice part about the evaporative nature of these stars is they are ready to use in very short time.

    • Harry Gilliam says:

      Randy, thanks for making that point. It is not one that is immediately apparent, and not one that somebody new would be able to anticipate. Of course, the alternative of pre-treating the magnesium in a potassium dichromate solution is a solid insurance policy, too.


  4. Milton Baker says:

    What is the PVC used. Do you file it from PVC pipe or what?

  5. Rod says:

    how come you do not have to treat the stars with at least linseed oil or Potassium Dichromate. No metion here and with two types or magnesium.

    • Mikey says:

      Rod, you don’t have to treat the Mg used, as the Parlon protects it from oxidation.
      (Ned-Sorry for “jumping in” and ‘splaining it!)

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