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Pyrotechnic Chemical Incompatibilities

Some combinations of chemicals lead to especially sensitive or instable mixtures. There are many more of such incompatible chemicals/mixtures than listed here but these are some of the more commonly encountered types:

  1. Chlorates and sulfur. Mixtures containing both are not only very sensitive to friction and shock but are also known to ignite spontaneously. The sulfur reacts with water and air to form trace amounts of sulfuric acid. This will react with chlorates to form chlorine dioxide, a yellow explosive gas that will ignite most flammable materials upon contact. Addition of small amounts of barium or strontium carbonate to chlorate based compositions is sometimes done to prevent buildup of acid, even in compositions without sulfur. Many older texts on pyrotechnics describe the use of chlorate/sulfur based compositions. Today, many alternative and much safer compositions are available and there is therefore no excuse for the use of chlorate/sulfur mixtures. This also means chlorate based compositions cannot be used in items that also contain sulfur based mixtures. For example: chlorate based stars cannot be primed with black powder. Nor can a H3 burst charge be used with black powder primed stars (or stars containing sulfur).
  2. Chlorates and ammonium compounds. Mixing these will allow ammonium chlorate to form in a double decomposition reaction that takes place in solution (moisture speeds up the process). Ammonium chlorate is a highly instable explosive compound. It decomposes over time producing chlorine dioxide gas (see chlorates and sulfur). Mixtures are likely to spontaneously ignite upon storage or may explode for no apparent reason. An exception seems to be the use of ammonium chloride and potassium chlorate in some smoke compositions. According to Shimizu this combination is safe due to the lower solubility of potassium chlorate (compared to ammonium perchlorate). I personally would still use these mixtures with great caution (or avoid them) since it seems inevitable that small amounts of ammonium chlorate will still form. The lower solubility of potassium chlorate will make it the -main- product in a double decomposition reaction but not the -only- product.
  3. Chlorates with metals and nitrates. These mixtures show the same problems as chlorate/ammonium compound mixtures. The reason is that nitrates can be reduced by most metals used in pyrotechnics to ammonium. The reaction rate of this reaction is increased by presence of water. Over time (for example when drying) these mixtures may spontaneously ignite or become extremely sensitive. The fact that ammonium forms in a relatively slow reaction is treacherous. These mixtures are referred to as 'death mixes' by some.
  4. Aluminum and nitrates. Mixtures of these compounds sometimes spontaneously ignite, especially when moist. The mechanism is assumed to be as follows: the aluminum reduces some of the nitrate to ammonium, simultaneously forming hydroxyl ions. The aluminum then reacts with the alkaline products in a very exothermic reaction leading to spontaneous heating up of the mixture. This can eventually lead to ignition. The reactions take place in solution and therefore moisture speeds up the reaction. The process is usually accompanied by the smell of ammonia. Some types of aluminum are more problematic than others. Stearin coated aluminum is generally safer to use. The whole process can be prevented in many cases by the addition of 1 to 2 percent of boric acid. This will neutralize the alkaline products. It is best to bind such compositions with non-aquaous binder/solvent systems such as red gum/ethanol. Since aluminum/nitrate mixtures are extensively used it is important to be aware of this problem which is why the combination is listed here.

 

Shell Name
Description
Palm
Contains large comets, or charges in the shape of a solid cylinder, that travel outward, explode and then curve downward like the limbs of a palm tree
Round shell
Explodes in a spherical shape, usually of colored stars
Ring shell
Explodes to produce a symmetrical ring of stars
Willow
Contains stars (high charcoal composition makes them long-burning) that fall in the shape of willow branches and may even stay visible until they hit the ground
Roundel
Bursts into a circle of maroon shells that explode in sequence
Chrysanthemum
Bursts into a spherical pattern of stars that leave a visible trail, with an effect somewhat suggestive of the flower
Pistil
Like a chrysanthemum shell, but has a core that is a different color from the outer stars
Maroon shell
Makes a loud bang
Serpentine
Bursts to send small tubes of incendiaries skittering outward in random paths, which may culminate in exploding stars

 

General Solubility Information
The following is a listing of available materials that are (among other things) used as a binder in pyrotechnic type formulations. Those so marked with " * " preceding the item indicate that the material so used in solution, that is to say, it is dissolved in the appropriate solvent before mixing into the formulae. It should be noted that all of these materials may be used in solution but those so noted must be dissolved first because of their more difficult to solvise properties. Do not allow complete solvation before evaporation and drying the mixture resulting in adhesive bond failure. Some of these materials may take as long as 24 hours at room temperature to completely dissolve.
If maximum strength is required, binder solutions should be used instead of moistening the dry mixture containing the binder. A solution allows a more thorough, homogenous mixing with adequate wet-out and a cured strength many times greater than the same binder when used dry.
Those so indicated with "+" also have good moistureproofing properties (some better than others) because they are impervious to moisture themselves and seal the ingredients in the formula that are hygroscopic from the air and moisture they may otherwise absorb from it.

Resin and/or Binder Dissolves in
Asphaltum (solution advised but may be used in dry form Toluene, turpentine & other hydrocarbon solvents
*+ Calcium Resinate Toluene, MEK
*+ Cellulose Acetate Acetone
Cellulose Gum Warm water
Dextrine Water
Guar Gum Water
Gum Arabic (acacia gum) Water
Hydroxyehtyl (HEC) Water
*+ Linseed Oil Hydrocarbon solvents
*+ Nitrocellulose Lacquer (lacquer may be thinned) Acetone
*+ Paraffin Oil None required
*+ Parlon, chlorinated rubber Acetone, Xylene
Phenolic Resin, Bakelite (TM) (solution advised, but may be used in dry form) Acetone, Ethanol
*+ Polybutadiene (PBAN, R-45, etc) plasticizer (curative required)
*+ Polyester Resin Plasticizer (curative required
*+ Polystyrene Toluene & other hydrocarbon solvents
*+ Polysulfide Resin Plasticizer (curatives, etc.)
*+ Polyvinyl Alcohol Boiling Water
*+ Polyvinyl Chloride Methylene chloride, Methyl Ethyl Ketone, Cyclohexane
Red Gum Alcohol
Rosin (sticky, much easier to use in solution) Alcohol & hydrocarbon solvents
*+ Rubber Benzene, Benzine
*+ Saran Resin (solution advised)(slowly in Acetone Methyl Ethyl Ketone, Cyclohexanone
Shellac Alcohol
Sodium Carboxymethylcellulose (CMC) Water
*+ Sodium Silicate (solution may be thinned if necessary) Water (heat resisting binder)
Starch Warm Water
*+ Styrene Resin Toluene, Methylene Chloride
* Vinsol Resin (solution advised but may be used in dry form) Alcohol, Ketones, Hydrocarbon solvents
*+ Vinyl Resin Toluene, Methyl Ethyl Ketone, Acetone

Compound

% Chlorine by mass

Ammonium chloride

66

Chlorowax

30-70

Dechlorane

78

HCB

75

HCE

90

Lead chloride

25

Lindane

73

Mercurous chloride

15

Parlon

64-68

PVC

57

PVDC (Saran)

73

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Rocket name

ID

OD

Length

Stick*

Payload*

2 oz

3/8

3-3/4

4 oz

1/2

5

8 oz

5/8

1

6-1/4

30

120g

1 lb

3/4

1-1/4

7-1/2

36

180g

2 lb

7/8

8-3/4

3 lb

1

1-1/2

10

48

500g

4 lb

1-1/4

12-1/2

6 lb

1-1/2

15

*Stick length and payload weight general suggestions
**All are for core burner black powder rockets
***Conventional drag stabilized core-burners usually have a case 10 IDs long, stingers must use shorter cases for stability, typically 4 IDs long. OD is 1.25 to 1.5 IDs.

Virgin Kraft Paper Sheets and Rolls Super Strips Secret Weapon Strips
35# Blonde 50# Blonde 40# Brown 55# Brown 70# Brown 70#, 1" 70#, 2" 60#, 1" 60#, 2"
Pupadel Cans X X X
Siatine Cans X
3" - 4" Can, Inner X X X X X
5" - 6" Can, Inner X X X
7" - 8" Can, Inner X
10" - 12" Can, Inner X
Pupadel Pasting X X X
Siatine Pasting X X X X
3" - 4" Can, Pasting X X X X X
5" - 6" Can, Pasting X X X X X
7" - 8" Can, Pasting X X X X
10" - 12" Can, Pasting X X
Small Crossettes X X X
Large Crossettes X X X X X
Match Piping, Nosing X X X
Small Can,
Outer Dry Wrap
X X
Large Can,
Outer Dry Wrap
X X X
3", 4", & 5" Ball X X X X X X
6", 7", & 8" Ball X X X X X X
10", & 12" Ball X X X X X
16", & 24" Ball X X X

U.S. Mesh

Inches

Microns

Millimeters

4

.1870

4760

4.760

6

.1320

3360

3.360

8

.0937

2380

2.380

10

.0787

2000

2.000

12

.0661

1680

1.680

16

.0469

1190

1.190

20

.0331

841

.841

25

.0280

707

.707

30

.0232

595

.595

40

.0165

400

.400

50

.0117

297

.297

80

.0070

177

.177

100

.0059

149

.149

200

.0029

74

.074

325

.0017

44

.044

400

.0015

37

.037

(1200)

.0005

12

.012

(2400)

.0002

6

.006

(4800)

.0001

2

.002


 
Sieve Mesh No.          Inches     Microns**     Typical material
14      0.056       1400  
28 0.028 700 Beach sand
60 0.0098   250 Fine sand
100 0.0059  150  
200 0.0030 74 Portland cement
325 0.0017 44 Silt
400 0.0015 37  
(1200) 0.0005 12 Plant Pollen
(2400) 0.0002 6 Red Blood Cell
(4800) 0.0001 2 Cigarette smoke
* The mesh numbers in parentheses are too small to exist as actual screen sizes; they are estimated and included just for reference.
*figures in parentheses are too small to be for actual screens, just estimated as such
U.S. Sieve Mesh And Sieving Information
Opening
(Microns)
U.S. Sieve
Mesh No.
Opening
(Microns)
U.S. Sieve
Mesh No
Opening
(Microns)
U.S. Sieve
Mesh No
4039
5
250
60
88
170
1905
10
210
70
74
200
841
20
177
80
63
230
595
30
149
100
53
270
420
40
125
120
44
325
297
50
105
140
37
400
Theoretical: 20 micron = 635 mesh




U.S.A. Tyler British Sieve Opening
Standard Sieve   Standard Micron Inch
10     2000 0.0787
  9   1981 0.0780
    10 1676 0.0660
  10   1651 0.0650
14     1410 0.0555
    12 1405 0.0553
  12   1397 0.0550
    14 1204 0.4740
16     1190 0.0469
  14   1168 0.0460
    16 1003 0.0395
18     1000 0.0394
  16   991 0.0390
    18 853 0.0336
20     840 0.0331
  20   833 0.3280
25     710 0.0280
  24   701 0.0276
    22 699 0.0275
    25 599 0.0236
30     590 0.0232
  28   589 0.0232
35   30 500 0.0197
  32   495 0.0195
    36 422 0.0166
40     420 0.0165
  35   417 0.0164
    44 353 0.0139
  42   351 0.0138
45     350 0.0138
50     297 0.0117
  48 52 295 0.0116
    60 251 0.0099
60     250 0.0098
  60   246 0.0097
    72 211 0.0083
70     210 0.0083
  65   208 0.0082
    85 178 0.0070
80     177 0.0070
  80   175 0.0069
    100 152 0.0060
100     149 0.0059
  100   147 0.0058
120     125 0.0049
  115 120 124 0.0049
140     105 0.0041
  150 150 104 0.0041
  170 170 89 0.0035
170     88 0.0035
    200 76 0.0300
200 200   74 0.0029
    240 66 0.0026
230     62 0.0024
  250   61 0.0024
270 270 300 53 0.0021
325     44 0.0017
  325   43 0.0017
400     37 0.0014

 

Grades

Grades of purity listed have been generally adapted to indicate the degree of quality and their primary uses.

Primary Standard - Reagents of special exceptional purity, for preparing standard solutions.

Reagent Grade - An analytical grade unexcelled for all general laboratory use.

ACS - Meets the requirements of the American Chemical Society Committee on Analytical Reagents.

CP - Chemically Pure grade, generally exceeding U.S. P. or N.F. requirements but of lower quality than Reagent Grade.

NF - A grade meeting the requirements of the National Formulary.

USP - Meets the requirements of the United States Pharmacopoeia.

Practical - Organic compounds of medium purity suitable for many laboratory applications.

Purified - A grade of higher quality than technical, often used where there are no official standards.

Technical - A grade suitable for general industrial use.



Table of Units

Unit (Full Name) Value in SI Units
atm (Atmosphere) 101325 kg/m*s2 (N/m2)
bbl (Barrel) 0,158987294928 m3
c (Speed of light) 299792458 m/s
ct (Carat) 0,0002 kg
ft (International foot) 0,3048 m
g (Gram) 0,001 kg
gal (US gallon) 0,003785411784 m3
ha (Hectare) 10000 m2
hp (Horsepower) 745,699871582 kg*m2/s3 (W)
in (Inch) 0,0254 m
kip (Kilopound-force) 4448,22161526 kg*m/s2 (N)
knot (Nautical miles per hour) 0,54444444444 m/s
lb (Avoirdupois pound) 0,45359237 kg
mi (International mile) 1609,344 m
N (Newton) 1 kg*m/s2
oz (Ounce) 0,028349523125 kg
Pa (Pascal) 1 kg/m*s2 (N/m2)
psi (Pounds per square inch) 6894,75729317 kg/m*s2 (N/m2)
ToBeContiniued What did I forgot?

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