Can Titanium be added to any firework?

Can Titanium be added to any firework?

Written by Harry Gilliam

Topics: How to Make Fireworks


Ken and Bonnie Kosanke wrote an article in Best of AFN VI, that I completely overlooked until today. It contains one jewel that I had never read or known.

You can basically add titanium to existing fireworks formulas without having to change the proportions of the existing recipe.

This is huge!

Say you have a proven green star formula. Add coarse titanium to it, and you get a green star with a silver tail.

Got a nice charcoal fountain you want to jazz up with silver sparks? Just add titanium.

No need to change the parts or percentages of all the chemicals. Just add some titanium.

Now, will there be some trial and error? Of course.

Will some of your experiments be a bad idea? Of course. For instance, I know that for one of my fountain comps, if I add too much titanium, the fountain will blow up.

For some of my star comps, if I add too much fine titanium, the color may get washed out.

But what Ken Kosanke is saying in his article is that titanium is probably the most perfect metal fuel there is for making fireworks.

And the same goes for our el cheapo titanium dihydride, which can pretty much be used interchangeably for fine titanium powder.

What makes Titanium so good for making fireworks?

Three reasons:

  • It ignites easily and burns readily in the air
  • It has a high boiling point
  • It is corrosion resistant

It’s important that your spark producing metals be able to ignite at a variety of temperatures, and keep burning in the air after leaving the main source of flame. If your metals just get hot, but don’t ignite they will fade to invisible really fast.

Boiling points are critical too. If your particles don’t have a high boiling point, they will vaporize in the flame and won’t produce trailing sparks. Titanium has boiling point of 3287°C–much higher than the other common pyro metals.

Lastly, you want your spark producing metals to be corrosion resistant. If other materials in your formula break down the metal, then it won’t be present in sufficient quantity to produce effective sparks.

Titanium fits the bill perfectly – better than aluminum, magnalium, iron and zinc when it comes to these three criteria.

But the one drawback for titanium is that it can be expensive…really expensive.

Until now. Certainly, by now you’ve read my rants about the latest variety of titanium to arrive at Skylighter — Titanium Dihydride (“TiDi”).

If not, here’s why TiDi is hot right now (so to speak):

  • It’s cheap – it’s dirt cheap compared to sponge, flake and most titaniums.
  • It’s effective – it is a brilliant white/silver spark producer.
  • It’s versatile – it can be used it in fountains, rockets, “Lightning Bolts” and even drivers.

Tradeoffs? Sure, there’s one main one. This is pretty fine powder, so the spark trails will be really short. But if you need a bright star, comet, fountain, etc., TiDi is great. Just add it to your existing formula and tweak.

Every day more uses for Titanium Dihydride come up. For example, here’s a Silver Wheel driver formula from The Best of AFN VI:

Silver Wheel – parts by weight

  • Potassium Nitrate – 75 parts
  • Charcoal (airfloat) – 15 parts
  • Sulfur – 10 parts
  • Titanium – 20 parts (TiDi will work)

Remember that a wheel driver is close kin to a rocket, and can double as a fountain, too. So use your homogination! And remember to BE SAFE: test-burn one first.

If your driver blows up, just back off on the amount of TiDi in the comp, and test again. This is what fireworks making is all about…dialing it in til you get it exactly right.

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

  1. Jaime says:

    Almost all of the ramming I do is with nitrate comps like bp with Ti 80/100 is done with the comp just very slightly damp.

    Pressure-flight apps like rocket motors and buzz bomb helicopter motors IMO will always work better and be more reliable using what is known as the Teleflite method:

    Humidified paper tube casings with a damp comp, very slightly damp bentonite/grog clay nozzle blend followed by grated paraffin wax rammed against the clay as a moisture barrier. I fully realize people don’t want to complicate their method even more and the Teleflite method does. The upside is I never got my rockets to work right until I did this method, the key is in the shrinking tube/clay nozzle bond “lock”, it’s absolutely excellent, plus the comps being damp give a full margin of safety especially considering the aluminum block case retainers I use.

    Happy shooting. J.

  2. deepdixie says:

    How safe would it be to hand-ram buzz bomb helicopters using a BP propellant and Ti-Di? I would be using Aluminum tooling and a non-sparking mallet. As far as I am aware, the general pyro consensus dictates that any comp containing Titanium, no matter how fine, should never be hand rammed into a tube.

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