Pine Bluffs Post - Serving all of Eastern Laramie County since 1908

By Charlene Smith
Pine Bluffs Post staff 

Boom: Happy Fourth of July

 

Boom; a deep, prolonged, resonant sound. A loud, sudden, explosive noise, as the discharge of a gun. That is what happens at a fireworks factory on an hourly basis. Just think if you could safely create a few booms for yourself.

Interested?

It is always a little scary and exciting for a child to take a tiny wire flashing white hot lava-looking sparks from an adult they love. But once in their hands, the sky is their canvas for neon paintings.

Some of us have grown up. The thrill is gone from taking a sparkler or even lighting one. Oz has revealed himself from behind the curtain and as grown-ups, there is not much left to surprise us.

Why not create your own sparkler? Wouldn’t that be a bang?

As with any fire in the windy, dry, drought soaked area where we live, be extra careful and perhaps even saturate the ground around where you will experiment with your creations. And check with your local ordinances or county restrictions on fire. Although it’s only a sparkler, it could be enough spark to damage acres of land. Firework use is restricted or prohibited in some areas. Please check your local laws before burning sparklers, whether you purchase them or make them yourself.

Sparklers are easy to make, plus you can use your knowledge of chemistry to make colored fire. This recipe can be made in a few minutes but it will take several hours to dry before you can spark them.

Home Made Sparklers (cited from L.P. Edel, “Mengen en Roeren”, 2nd edition (1936), p.22, as cited from Wouter’s Practical Pyrotechnics.)

You will need;

iron wires or wooden sticks

300 parts potassium chlorate

60 parts aluminum fines, flitter, or granules

2 parts charcoal

10% dextrin in water solution

500 parts strontium nitrate (optional, for red color)

60 parts barium nitrate (optional, for green color)

All of the chemicals you need can be purchased at a chemical supply store. Mix the dry ingredients with enough dextrin solution to make a moist slurry. Include the strontium nitrate if you want a red sparkler or the barium nitrate if you want a green sparkler.Dip the wires or sticks in the sparkler mixture. Be sure to leave enough uncoated space at one end to safely grasp the finished sparkler. Allow the mixture to dry completely before igniting the sparkler.Store sparklers away from heat or flame, and protected from high humidity

Firecrackers are extremely easy and inexpensive to make yourself. Fortunately, the materials needed and recipes for firecrackers are easy to find. This recipe was found on about.com.

You will need some transparent tape, toy gun caps, a fuse, and a pin or needle. The gun caps powder is easy to work with. Gently insert a pin or needle through the back of a cap through to the front. Remove the pin and re-insert it from the front, where you made the hole. Pry the powder out of the cap, tapping it onto a sheet or paper or plate or other working surface. Carefully work the pin around the edge of the cap to collect all of the powder. Work slowly and gently so you don’t pop the cap.

A big “bang” firework will only need powder from about three caps. And for safety sake, it’s best to only make one firecracker at a time.

Take a piece of tape about 2” long and pick up the gunpowder on the sticky side of the tape. Evenly coat the tape until you either run out of gunpowder or else run out of stickiness. Place the fuse (about 2 inches long) so that it sticks halfway down the tape. The fuse does not need to stick to the tape. Roll the tape around the fuse. Take another piece of tape and tightly wrap your firecracker. Be sure to cover the bottom of the firecracker or else the opening will give you a small rocket rather than a popping firecracker.

For a dressier bang, you can use 2-inch folded strips of colored paper; pour the gunpowder into the fold of the paper, and wrap the paper around the fuse. The paper firecracker could be secured with any kind of tape.

So, Bing, Bang, BOOM! Happy Fourth of July. Whether you watch, light, make or just buy fireworks this Fourth, may the freedom you enjoy by the activity remind you of the loud boom heard over a century ago claiming “This land is our land.”

 

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