Copper Powder Pyrotechnic Formulas For Green and Blue Fireworks Stars

Here are some new angles on making blue, green, and other fireworks stars using copper powder. Through the years I've collect some interesting firework star pyrotechnic formulas, which you can see below. But even more interesting are the green firework star pyrotechnic formulas.

Particularly interesting to me were the blue fireworks star and strobe pot pyrotechnic formulas developed by Clive Jennings-White some years ago. According to Clive’s article, it appears the atomized powder we sell is particularly well suited to the strobe applications. He reports that finer, or flake copper powders do not strobe as well in his pyrotechnic formulas.

A number of these pyrotechnic formulas listed below are dated. That is, they use ingredients you will not readily find today. But I am listing them anyway, because there are some pretty capable pyros who’ll know how to make substitutions for the old ingredients, no longer manufactured or in widespread use in fireworks. And then, there are some older pyros still hoarding little stashes of Paris Green, Calomel, etc.

So, in the interests of spreading copper powder into more mainstream use, here are a slew of copper powder-based recipes. One caveat: I have not tested or seen any of these, so you're on you're own. Don’t bother writing to us and asking about missing information, like binder, solvent, etc. We don’t have any more info than what you see below.

Copper Powder Blue, Purple, Turquoise, and Black Fireworks Star & Strobe Pyrotechnic Formulas

Unless otherwise stated, all parts are by weight. They may or may not total 100.

Blue Fireworks Stars: Attributed to Shimizu
Potassium perchlorate 75.1%
Red Gum 11.5%
Copper 9.6%
Parlon 3.8%
SGRS (rice starch) +5%

Purple Fireworks Stars: Attributed to Shimizu
Potassium perchlorate 70%
Red Gum 5%
Copper 6%
PVC 10%
Strontium carbonate 9%
Starch (rice or dextrin) +5%

Rolled Blue Fireworks Stars From rec.pyro (in part)
Potassium perchlorate 36
Sulfur 3
Red Gum 3
Shellac 8
Copper 6
Parlon 4

Blue Strobe Pot Pyrotechnic Formula No. 1 (Clive Jennings-White, Pyrotechnica XIV)
Ammonium perchlorate 50
Ammonium sulfate 25
Magnalium, 100-200 mesh 20
Copper, atomized, 40-100 mesh 5

Blue Strobe Pot Pyrotechnic Formula No. 4 (Clive Jennings-White, Pyrotechnica XIV)
Ammonium perchlorate 25
Guanidine nitrate 55
Copper, atomized, -100 mesh 20

Blue Strobe Fireworks Star Pyrotechnic Formula No. 2 (Clive Jennings-White, Pyrotechnica XIV)
Ammonium perchlorate 40
Ammonium sulfate 10
Guanidine nitrate 25
Magnalium, 100-200 mesh 15
Copper, atomized, -100 mesh 10

Blue Strobe Fireworks Star Pyrotechnic Formula No. 5 (Clive Jennings-White, Pyrotechnica XIV)
Ammonium perchlorate 55
Tetramethylammonium nitrate 30
Copper, atomized, 40-100 mesh 15

Turquoise Strobe Pyrotechnic Formula (Clive Jennings-White, Pyrotechnica XIV)
Ammonium perchlorate 25
Barium nitrate 25
Guanidine nitrate 25
Magnalium, 100-200 mesh 20
Copper, atomized, -100 mesh 5

Purple Strobe Pyrotechnic Formula (Clive Jennings-White, Pyrotechnica XIV)
Ammonium perchlorate 55
Strontium nitrate 5
Tetramethylammonium nitrate 28
Copper, atomized, -100 mesh 5

"Black" Strobe Pyrotechnic Formula (Clive Jennings-White, Pyrotechnica XIV)
Ammonium perchlorate 30
Tetramethylammonium nitrate 40
Copper, atomized, -100 mesh 30

There is a great deal more information about Clive's pyrotechnic formulas above in Pyrotechnica XIV (BK0114), Blue Strobe Light Compositions.

Russ X from Jennings-White’s derived the next pyrotechnic formula .

Blue Strobe Cut Firework Stars from Russ X
Ammonium perchlorate 25
Guanidine nitrate 55
Copper, atomized, -100 mesh 7.5
Copper oxide, black 5
PVC, suspension grade 7.5

Russ’s notes: "Bind with nitrocellulose lacquer, enough to bind them together, but not enough for them to be tacky. Copper powder is used in the best blue strobe pyrotechnic formula in Pyrotechnica XIV (BK0114). Playing with this as a base, I have lifted shells that contained blue strobe firework stars. I cut them into 1/4 - 3/8" cubes, then 'roll' them in a bowl to consolidate them. As you roll them in the bowl, they become denser and take on a round profile. A light misting of 1:1 MEK/lacquer thinner is sometimes needed to keep the surface from drying out too fast. You have to be gentle when you start rolling these fireworks stars so that they don't crumble. For some reason, the crumbs don't like to reconsolidate into fireworks stars that will strobe. I prime them with a thermitic perchlorate prime (superprime) after they have dried for a couple of days. The issue with making this on a regular basis is the guanidine nitrate availability and the pain of cutting the fireworks stars and then rolling them to consolidate them."

Copper powder blue #2
Ammonium Perchlorate 74.2%
Copper dust 11.1%
Stearin [stearic acid?] 11.1%
Paraffin 3.7%

Blue Torch, Allen
Potassium perchlorate 50
Barium nitrate 30
Charcoal 5
Paris green 4
Copper dust 6
Copper oxychloride 1
Lead chloride 8
Calomel 4

John Driver's Blue (from a PGI Bulletin)
Potassium perchlorate 50%
Copper powder 30%
Parlon 16%
Saran 4%

From Christian Brechbuehler - Jun 15 1993
Potassium perchlorate 70
Fimo [PVC "clay"] 20
Copper 10

Green
Potassium nitrate 15
Sulfur 2
Airfloat charcoal 1
Copper powder 4
Red gum 1
Dextrin 1

Finally, here are several of the more useable pyrotechnic formulas from Donald Haarmann's Pyrotechnic Formulary (BK0078). This incidentally is what the Formulary is great for: finding pyrotechnic formulas to match a set of ingredients.

Green fireworks star (from Experiments in Developing Green Star Formulas)
Magnesium 1.8 pts
Barium nitrate 5.8 pts
Copper 0.5 pts
Parlon 1.5 pts

Green Fireworks star (from Experiments in Developing Green Star Formulas)
Magnesium 1.0 pts
Barium nitrate 5.8 pts
Copper 1.3 pts
Parlon 1.7 pts

Green Fireworks star (from Experiments in Developing Green Star Formulas)
Magnesium 1.8 pts
Barium nitrate 5.8 pts
Copper 0.5 pts
Parlon 1.5 pts
Gilsonite 0.2 pts

Flare Green, MC241
Magnesium 23%
Barium nitrate 53%
Copper 2%
Hexachlorobenzene 20%
Gilsonite 2%
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