Colored Rocket Compositions

After playing for two years with the latest craze stinger missile rockets, and making all the sizes from 3/8 bore to the (and I believe I made the first) monster 6 lb., and garnishing them with all kinds of crap from whistles to firework stars to aerial shells to cross-breaking quad firework stars and such, I'm starting to get bored. I've wondered hard and searched high and low for articles and whatnot on colored rockets. I thought to myself, that new ruby red firework star pyrotechnic formula that's going around would make a fantastic rocket, if I could make the right size spindle.

Starting at the 4 oz. rocket size, I figured I could scale it up or down later. It took four tries carving up some 1/2" stainless in the lathe before I got one to fly...and then only so-so. The fifth try got it! I cut up some 1/2" bore cases to 2" long (these burn longer than black powder rockets). The nozzle is 1/4" thick when rammed in and has a 0.1" bore made from the diameter of the spindle. The total spindle length is a tad over 1" (1.050"). So if you look at a cross section of the rocket, you see 1/4" thick clay nozzle, 3/4"+ of core in the comp, 1/2" comp solid over the spindle and finished with a clay plug. I've shot about 20 of these so far with no problems (other than the need to shoot more--the color is unreal). I've been ramming these cautiously with leather gloves and facemask on in case the drift decides to take off. Pressing may work fine too.

Ruby Red Rocket Formula

Strontium Nitrate 50
Potassium Perchlorate 8
Parlon 18
Magnalium, 275 mesh 12
Charcoal Airfloat 5
Sulfur 5
Red Gum 2
Dextrin +5
All parts by weight.

This particular spindle also worked with my blue and purple pyrotechnic formulas, although with a little less thrust. BUT! Here's the interesting part. Some of them CHIRP like birds in the early lift off!

My Blue Rocket Formula (my variant from Beachle)

Potassium Perchlorate 70
Copper Oxychloride 10
Red Gum 7.5
Chlorowax 7
Hexamine 2.5
Dextrin 3 (leave out of rocket composition)

My Purple Rocket Formula (my variation on Bleser)

Potassium Perchlorate 23
Ammonium Perchlorate 40
Copper Oxychloride 5
Strontium Carbonate 12
Red Gum 5
Shellac 5 (helps remove some of the yellow from flame)
Hexamine 7
Charcoal Airfloat 1.5
Chlorowax 1
Dextrin 4.5 (leave out of rocket composition)

Said same spindle didn't work with my green. Well, one of them did, Harry's El Cheapo Nitrate Green, but it didn't burn green (more like yellow mud).

My ultimate favorite green pyrotechnic formula and expensive (from Weingart)--9:1 barium chlorate to shellac composition--blew up! So I started carving up stainless again. Took three tries. This spindle is as long as the ruby-composition spindle but has a nozzle bore of 3/16" (0.187"). I kept the case length the same, 2", and the clay nozzle the same, 1/4" thick. I rammed it hard.

This mix I am real careful ramming (barium chlorate, remember?). I have had no incidents as yet. Thrust is good and the green fire is there from launch to burnout. This guy also chirps/sputters on take off.

Feeling confident at this stage, I decided to scale up to the 3/4" bore. Green composition first. No matter what or how I manipulated the spindle, the barium chlorate composition detonated every time. So, I abandoned the above green composition (I was getting too nervous ramming it anyway) in favor of some other potassium perchlorate pyrotechnic formulas. Although I could get these others to fly halfway decently, they would not give me the green thrust flame I wanted.

Hold everything! Why not substitute barium nitrate for the strontium in the Ruby Red pyrotechnic formula? Bingo! I went back to the 1/2" bore case and the 3/16" nozzle and it flew first try, but a little lazy and the green was a slight yellow. This is starting to look like Bob Veline's green. Added some barium carbonate and the green came into play. Then to tweak the spindle, I cut it down to give me a 0.150" bore nozzle, and the rest is history.

Feeling twice as confident now, I scaled everything up to the 3/4" bore case about 3" long and before I did any calculations for the spindles, as the case reminded me of a stinger, I tried my existing stinger spindle as a regular rocket (no side hole for spin).


Ruby Red flew magnificently.
Polock Green flew magnificently.
My Blue and My Purple flew, but lazy.
Re-cut a new spindle (skinny stinger) to give me a 0.20" nozzle and they flew much better.

Polock Rocket Green Formula

Barium Nitrate 50
Potassium Perchlorate 8
Parlon 18
Magnalium, 275 mesh 12
Sulfur 4
Charcoal Airfloat 4
Red Gum 2
Barium Carbonate 6
All parts by weight

I've noticed that these colored rockets are a little hard to light, so I've been dribbling some 60-40 flash down the throat before taping in the fuse. Priming an end of some Visco with Bleser's strobe igniter mix works excellent.

All pyrotechnic formulas above are in parts by weight, and mixed thoroughly by passing through a 30 or 40 mesh screen at least 4 times. I leave the dextrin binder (normally used when making stars from these compositions) out.

Finally, I managed to design an extremely thin, long spindle to get Dave Bleser's Blond Streamer composition to fly. Still using the 1/2" bore cases, 2" long, the spindle gives me a nozzle bore of, are you ready?.. 1/16" diameter and is a little longer than before, being 1.125" this time. You have to use Harry's skinny visco to light these. These take off real lazy; therefore you need a long, lightweight stick, 1/8 x1/8 x 25-30" long. The tail/streamer/fire is incredible! It blankets the launch pad and streams out 25-30 feet+ in flight.

Blonde Streamer Rocket (Bleser)

Meal D 60
Charcoal Airfloat 20
Ferrotitanium, 30-60 mesh 15
Dextrin 5 (leave this out in rocket composition)

Just imagine these FX rockets/drivers powering some wheels! I can!

DISCLAIMER: I WILL NOT BE RESPONSIBLE FOR ANYTHING Because of misinterpretations and or misuse of information presented.

--Rich Harrison a.k.a. Polock

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