Great Magnesium Formulas for Stars

Written by Harry Gilliam

Topics: Uncategorized

Here is a collection of different formulas for making (mostly) stars using magnesium powder. The information is a little stingy. It was all gleaned from The Wizard’s Pyrotechnic Formulary. This is a collection of more than 2600 different fireworks formulas compiled by Donald Haarmann. Even though there is zero information on how to make the recipes in the book, I don’t know of anything else like it in existence.

As you can see below, often there is very little info provided in the formulas. But where “Magnesium” is called for, you can most likely use just about any of the 80 mesh or finer magnesiums you can readily find these days. Remember that the finer the mag powder, the faster the star will burn. So you should be prepared to experiment a little.

Whenever Dextrin is called for, you can assume the solvent to use is water or water and alcohol. In that case you should coat your magnesium using potassium dichromate dissolved in water. The method is simple. Just make a supersaturated (as much as can be dissolved) solution of potassium dichromate dissolved in hot water. Add the dichromate until no more will dissolve. The add your magnesium powder to the solution and stir. Hydrogen gas will bubble and fizz out of the solution, so do this away from flames. Keep stirring until the bubbles stop. Then pour the solution and wet magnesium sludge through a coffee filter. You can wash any remaining sludge out of your mixing bowl with water. Save the orange solution to be used again (you can add more potassium dichromate again). Dry the mag sludge, and then run it through as fine a screen as you have and crush any little clumps by hand.

In formulas where you see Parlon, it is being used as both a chlorine donor (flame color brightener) and a binder. Use acetone or xylene as the solvent for these Parlon comp’s.

If you see PVC, it is also a chlorine donor and binder; use methylene chloride as the solvent to activate the PVC as a binder. If you see PVC and Parlon, treat the Parlon as the binder. Red gum is being used as a binder as well in some comps; use alcohol as the solvent.

Since so much info is lacking, I strongly advise you to experiment with very small batches at first, until you know you’ve got your star dialed in. Then scale up.

Crimson Star

Strontium Nitrate 8
Potassium Chlorate 2
Sulfur 2
Charcoal 1
Magnesium 2

Green Electric Star
Allen [Hitt]

Barium Chlorate 36
Aluminum 1
Magnesium 1
Shellac 6
Dextrin 12

Green Flare and Smoke

Barium Nitrate 50
Potassium Perchlorate 10
Magnesium 20
PVC 16
Asphaltum 4

Green Star

Magnesium 7.5
Barium Nitrate 10
PVC 17.5

Green Star

Magnesium 16
Barium Nitrate 55
PVC 29

Green Star
T. Fish

Barium Nitrate 63
Parlon 25
Magnesium 12
Boric Acid +3
Red Gum +3

Green Star Brilliant

Barium Nitrate 42
Potassium Perchlorate 16
Magnesium 25
PVC 15
Lampblack 2

Red Flare

Magnesium 17.5
Gilsonite 7.5
Strontium Nitrate 45
Potassium Perchlorate 25

Red Mag Star

Strontium Nitrate 55
Parlon 10
Magnesium 100-200m 28

(wet with acetone)

Red Micro Jet

Potassium Perchlorate 25
Strontium Nitrate 25
Parlon 30
Magnesium 100m 17
Red Gum 3

Red Star

Potassium Perchlorate 9
Strontium Nitrate 42
Magnesium 100m 30
Parlon 12
Red Gum 7

Red Star
J Farrell

Barium Nitrate 67
Magnesium 100-200m 10
Parlon 18
Red Gum 5

Red Star
T Fish

Strontium Nitrate 58
Parlon 29
Magnesium Fine 13
Boric Acid +3
Red Gum +3

By all means, write your questions and comments about these formulas in the comments below. We’ll try to answer them for you. Better to ask first before you waste time and money getting a big batch of mag stars wrong.
–Harry Gilliam

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

  1. Amir Suhail says:

    I have made red colour sparkler using aluminium powder & magnesium and than observe gas up and over heated. Now I use the boric acid in the water to oxidise it. But this is not working properly, it cannot hold the solution for longer period. I am using Strontium Nitrate PVC Dextrine Aluminium powder magnesium, got good results but it gas up and produce so much heat, how can i spare of this situation??

    Thanks & Regards

  2. Brian Willems says:

    I have noticed that almost all formulas for colored stars use potassium chlorate or perchlorate. Can I substitute them with potassium nitrate?

  3. Michael Tibbetts says:

    I have made stars using your firefly aluminium and had them gas up and heat now I use the boric acid in the this why you coat magnesium with potasium dichromate? Because the reducer is solvent based not water based? I know this is a very important step so please advise. I have all the chems needed to make these stars (except p.d.) so waiting to hear from u . mike Tibbetts. N.G.Maine

  4. Gabriel says:

    Can you tell me about phenolic resin?Which one is used as a binder and how?Novolac,bakelite,cured or not…?

  5. Crandall Nielson says:

    Harry, can you quickly brief me on the best practical way of storing-200 mesh magnesium powder short of not even having it around? You comment and help would be much appreciated.

  6. pam says:

    where can I buy these supplies

  7. Jason Grech says:

    Regarding magnesium stars, I do not suggest using chlorates with magnesium. I think prchlorates are safer to work with. I am interested in making magnesium stars using the phenolic resin and pvb with alcohol as the solvent. Can you provide any ratios regarding such mixtures please ?


  8. Brian Lewis, PhD says:

    I stopped reading in the middle of an early sentence. Supersaturated IS NOT the most that can be dissolved. You must define conditions. When it comes to solubles, Temp becomes the most important. Saturated generally refers to the max amount that can be dissolved at room temp. Super saturated on the other hand means more than saturated. How can this be? We ask in puzzlement. Easy, the 8th grade science maiden replies. We simply heat the solution, thereby making it less dense, less “saturated” as it were. This increase in tempo means molecules are moving faster and more can be dissolved than at room temp. Now we have a saturated solution at 75 degrees c.

    Now to get a SUPER SATURATED solution, a beyond saturated solution, we must slowly lower the temperature to room temp while avoiding having any of the soluble fall out of solution. Voila! Here it is at room temp. Only small amounts have fallen out. This is now a super-saturated solution!

    • Harry Gilliam says:

      Thanks, Dr. Brian, sir,

      Excellent and very useful info.

      Harry Gilliam
      Graduate of 7th Grade

  9. David Peacock says:

    Have tried several times to enroll in your intro to pyro before investing.No response from you at all.


    • Harry Gilliam says:


      Not sure what the issue is, but if you will contact me directly, I will help you.


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