Crème of the Crop from the Spanish Formulas

INTRODUCTION

The formulas chosen here are a handful of beautiful colors and a few effects that can be easily made up for amazing-performing fireworks! These aren't your typical fireworks formulas either! We have a nice range of colors in our Colored Spanish Star Kits including Red & Orange, Purple & White, Green & Turquoise. There's also a couple of really neat titanium effect stars in the White Kamuro & Electric Fizzball Spanish Star Kit. There are a few curved balls in this project that stray away from conventional formulations and techniques that most fireworks projects are based on, but will make sense once you read through it.

First off, we've replaced the use of red gum with phenolic resin – for several reasons! What's that, you ask? No RED GUM in the colors??? I know, this might seem a bit odd for colored stars, but there are a few reasons we've ventured away from this fuel. Bear with me on this one. We've taken a hint from the last few pages of the Spanish papers about how useful phenolic resins can be in producing beautiful fireworks colors.

For one, phenolic resin is produced industrially, used extensively in production of electronics and plastic coatings, provides consistent fuel grade, and is less susceptible to moisture content variation across batches compared to red gum. This helps with better performance in colored stars.

Phenolic resin is also a bit cheaper and more readily available than red gum. Red gum is getting harder to source, and phenolic resin is widely available from many manufacturers.

Red gum can also vary in quality over the months and years, depending on how it is sourced. Red gum, also known as Acaroid resin or Kino resin, is derived from Australia, India, and a few other countries outside the United States. It is made from the brutal beating of eucalyptus tree trunks of the "bloodwood" type (crazy, but look it up!). This tree blood is, for one function, a defense mechanism of the trees to trap and entomb tree bugs from harming the trees. This blood oozes out, then dries up as a tacky gum on the outside of the tree as a solid red substance – red gum! Red gum is literally dried up tree blood. Depending on weather patterns in climate during harvesting, and cultivators trying to weed out portions of red gum without little insects in them, this can cause the material to have slight variations in moisture content impurities, and include debris (like ground up bugs) that can alter color purity across batches of colored stars. On the other hand, phenolic resin escapes these issues, and is also WAY less bloody.

What's more, we've simplified the colored star formulas so they don't have dextrin in them, which gets us slightly better color purity. Using straight alcohol as the solvent in the colors with phenolic resin, we get the performance of phenolic resin fuel, and merge its ability to DOUBLE as a binder for the stars. More simple, beautiful colors, and affordable kits make these colored star formulas excellent performers in the sky!

Even better, we feature the star prime at the end of the Spanish Stars Article that can be used for all the colors and effects. The author claims it is a one-step prime, but this was just too good to be 100% true. It's close though! So we use this one-step prime for all the stars, and finish it with just a light dusting of black powder (BP) prime to ensure the stars light all the time, every time.

Plus!! There is no chlorate involved in any of these formulas, so they are compatible with a lot of other pyro-effects that you might have in mind.

With all these great features, I'm sure you can't wait to get into one of these kits and get going on making some amazing performing fireworks!

Buy a Spanish Star Kit and
SAVE 20% off buying the chemicals separately

Skylighter offers FOUR different Spanish Star kits and a Spanish Star Prime Kit:

Red & Orange Spanish Star Kit - enough chemicals to make 4 pounds of stars!

Green & Turquoise Spanish Star Kit - enough chemicals to make 4 pounds of stars!

Purple & White Spanish Star Kit - enough chemicals to make about 4 pounds of stars!

White Kamuro & Electric Fizzball Spanish Star Kit - enough chemicals to make 4 pounds of stars!

Spanish Star Prime Kit - enough chemicals to prime 4 pounds of stars!

PLANNING & PREP OF YOUR WORKSPACE

In any fireworks building activity, take the time to make sure things are organized and well situated. Good organization not only makes for a safe workplace but also can eliminate stress in the process because you know where everything is! Plus, by investing a little time to prep the area, you end up saving time because you know where everything is, things are in reach, and you end up producing better quality fireworks. As you go through the process, make a point to clean up along the way. This isn't nagging - it's peace of mind and safety, and translates to better quality.

For making stars and prime, do this activity outdoors. A pop-up tent set up just outside the garage or your backyard works well to keep the sun from heating everything (and you) up HOT, and to avoid getting a build-up of flammable dust everywhere. You're going to make a mess, as usual in all fireworks activities. Masking things down with kraft paper is very helpful, as you can wrap up each activity and toss the balls of paper containing trace amounts of spilled chemicals or pyrotechnic dusts into an outdoor firepit. This "hot trash" is flammable and dangerous to throw in your normal garbage can, and is better to be disposed of by burning it AFTER you break your setup down, and have all pyrotechnic compositions and stars safely put away.

PLANNING & PREP FOR STARS AND PRIME

In this article, we show you how to make a few batches of star composition, plus the primes needed for successful ignition. We keep each example batch of the Spanish compositions in this article to a small amount, though the compositions can be scaled up or down to your liking based on the shells and number of effects you're planning on making!

Okay, here are the colored star formulas we tried out, tweaked with a little, and got to work with phenolic resin in place of red gum:

Spanish Color Comp Red#1 Orange #2 Green #2 Turquoise Purple White #2
Potassium Perchlorate 49.5% 49.5% 18.7% 28.7% 51.6% 53.1%
Barium Nitrate - - 46.9% 28.7% - -
Black Copper Oxide - - - 8.5% 12.9% 3.1%
Strontium Carbonate 17.6% 12.4% - - 6.5% -
Sodium Oxalate - 5.2% - - - -
Magnalium 11.3% 11.3% 14.6% 13.8% 6.4% 12.5%
Phenolic Resin 11.3% 11.3% 10.4% 10.7% 9.7% 12.5%
Parlon 10.3% 10.3% 9.4% 9.6% 12.9% 18.8%
Total (%) 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
Denatured Alcohol + 20% + 20% + 20% + 20% + 20% + 20%

And here are the effect stars and star prime compositions:

Spanish Composition White Kamuro Electric Frizzball Star Prime BP Prime
Potassium Nitrate 61% 61% 31% 75%
Potassium Perchlorate - - 25% -
Charcoal 6% 6% 12% 15%
Sulfur 14% 14% 5% 10%
Black Iron Oxide - - 7% -
Magnalium - - 12% -
Titanium (20-200 mesh) 14% - - -
Titanium (200-325 sphr) - 14% - -
Phenolic Resin - - 4% -
Dextrin 5% 5% 4% +4%
Total (%) 100% 100% 100% 104%
75& Water / 25% Alchohol + 20% + 20% Spritz on Spritz on
 
Are you fixing to make a batch of Spanish stars, but don't want to calculate the ratios for your batch size?

Well, one of the Skylighter faithful did all the math for you and provided an MS Excel sheet that calculates all the details in an instant. Just select the color, and enter your batch size and it does all the work for you.

Free Download Here: Spanish Stars Calculator

A few quick notes about these compositions before we dive into the fun stuff...

The last composition, BP Prime, is used as a light dusting for the final prime layer on all the stars. It's not unique to the Spanish formulas, just a little extra insurance you get 100% ignition. It's classic black powder proportions, with some dextrin for glue.

Screening your oxidizers (the nitrates and potassium perchlorate) will require the 100 MESH SCREEN.

Screen-mixing star composition and prime will require the 60 MESH SCREEN.

100% and 60 mesh fireworks making screens

Coarse screens really come in handy with screening different sized stars after they are dried. Here are the links to the screens:

3, 4 and 10 mesh fireworks making screens

Why do you need these? Because no one makes perfectly-shaped cut stars, and these screens really, REALLY speed up the sorting process for sizing the stars you'll use in different effects and different sized shells.

Take a look at the stars you can make using these sorting screens!

10-mesh fireworks making screen
4-mesh fireworks making screen
3-mesh fireworks making screen

These 3 partitions of stars came from THE SAME BATCH of stars, but based on how you cut them (unless you have excessive OCD), you're going to end up with all kinds of sizes of cut stars!

Okay, we've talked a lot about stars and sorting the sizes of the stars out, but what about the amount of Star Prime you're going to need to get them to go? Here's a nifty little table to use if you screen your stars with the screens from Skylighter:

Size of Stars Star Prime per lb of Stars
Caught by 3-mesh screen (BIG) 6 oz
Caught between 3 and 4-mesh screen (Medium) 7 oz
Caught between 4 and 10-mesh screen (small) 9 oz

These are rough amounts, but a general rule of thumb when partitioning out the size of your cut stars and the amount of prime you'll want to make to coat them. More on this later.

DENATURED ALCOHOL AND 25% ALCOHOL

In this project, you'll need denatured alcohol to bind the colored stars together. You'll need to get your hands on some straight, good 'ol 100% / 200 proof alcohol, called denatured alcohol. This can be hard to find in some states these days, but is usually sold as a "fuel" instead of a "solvent" for compliance with air quality regulations if your state is tight on regs.

A can of denatured alcohol

You can also ask your crazy uncle if he can spare some moonshine. That is, of course, if he's got a still hidden out back, but make sure it's the real deal! 190 proof or higher will work fine. Any less, don't bother! Just make sure to get denatured alcohol.

To figure out how much alcohol you'll need, just estimate how many grams/oz/pounds of colored stars you'll be making, and divide that weight by 5. This is the minimum amount of straight alcohol you'll need.

For example, if you're making 1 pound of stars, that's less than a 1/4 lb of alcohol needed. In volume, if we round up a little that's 4 oz (fluid ounces) of alcohol. Not much alcohol for a POUND of stars. So a gallon (64 fluid ounces) of denatured alcohol should go a LONG way!

NO, YOU CANNOT USE EXTRA HAND SANITIZER LAYING AROUND THE HOUSE TO WET YOUR STAR COMPOSITIONS. MOST SANITIZER IS ONLY ~70% ALCOHOL, ~25% WATER, AND A BUNCH OF OTHER ADDITIVES THAT WILL RUIN YOUR COLORS. SORRY!!

For the primes and the effect stars, you'll need water with a little alcohol added to it. We use 25% alcohol in water. This ratio doesn't have to be perfect...+/- 5% will be fine. We will use this solvent to wet and activate the dextrin in the charcoal/titanium star compositions and prime compositions. It is also useful to spray things clean like our fireworks screens and bench tops when we switch to other compositions or want to tidy up and break down. This dilute alcohol solution cuts down the surface tension on powders compared to using straight water, and helps stars dry just a little quicker too. The low alcohol concentration also makes this versatile solvent relatively safe to work with and isn't really all that flammable, but use it outdoors and with adequate ventilation.

25% Alcohol in a spray bottle – the rest is water.

  • 25% Denatured Alcohol (or straight moonshine)
  • 75% Water

If you are starting with denatured alcohol (effectively 100% alcohol), the dilution is simple. You just need 1 part alcohol (25%) to 3 parts water (75%).

If you are starting with 70% Rubbing alcohol and diluting it into, say, a 25 oz spray bottle, you will need:

  • 9 oz of 70% Isopropanol
  • 16 oz of Water (fill it up to the 25 oz mark)

TOOLS AND SUPPLIES

You can find several items in your local dollar store, grocery store, or hardware store. Here are some useful tools you'll need:

  • Disposable Gloves, Goggles, And Dust Mask
  • A Dry Paint Brush, For Dusting Off The Screens
  • Paper Towels
  • Small Dowel
  • Assorted Shims (i.e.: 1/8", 3/16", 1/4")
  • Kraft Paper
    • Heavy kraft for covering table
    • Light kraft for transferring stars/powder
  • Scissors
  • Sharpie
  • Zipper-style Plastic Baggies
  • Retractable Blade And/or Box Cutting Blade
  • Masking tape
    • (For taping down the kraft paper on your table)
  • Plastic Weighing Cups For Your Chemicals
  • Large, Round-Bottom Plastic Tubs For Priming Cut Stars
    • Tupperware bowls work very well
  • Colander Or Large Strainer For Cut Star Priming
  • Electric Grinders
    • For potassium nitrate ONLY
    • For potassium perchlorate ONLY (if needed)
  • Denatured Alcohol
  • Water/alcohol In a Sprayer
  • Optional: Good Tunes For Bumpin'

PLANNING & SAFETY ON A NICE DAY

When preparing star and prime compositions, do it outdoors. Check the weather. It's best to prepare these mixtures on a dry, warm day with very little wind. Wind can really ruin this process, by throwing off your weights and blowing your powders around the work area and onto you as well. Wait for good weather to make these compositions.

Wear long sleeve, cotton shirts and safety glasses when appropriate. A face mask also comes in handy to cut down on exposure to dust, and there are plenty of those around these days!

MAKING COLORED STARS & PRIMES

Using the first table of formulas, you'll notice none of the colored stars have dextrin in them. The solvent we use to bind them up is denatured alcohol. As mentioned in the intro, we've ventured away from red gum and swapped it with phenolic resin powder, which is the fuel and the binder for all these stars. The primes, on the other hand, will use mostly water, with a little alcohol in it to help in wetting the stars better than straight water.

Spanish Color Comp Red#1 Orange #2 Green #2 Turquoise Purple White #2
Potassium Perchlorate 49.5% 49.5% 18.7% 28.7% 51.6% 53.1%
Barium Nitrate - - 46.9% 28.7% - -
Black Copper Oxide - - - 8.5% 12.9% 3.1%
Strontium Carbonate 17.6% 12.4% - - 6.5% -
Sodium Oxalate - 5.2% - - - -
Magnalium 11.3% 11.3% 14.6% 13.8% 6.4% 12.5%
Phenolic Resin 11.3% 11.3% 10.4% 10.7% 9.7% 12.5%
Parlon 10.3% 10.3% 9.4% 9.6% 12.9% 18.8%
Total (%) 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
Denatured Alcohol + 20% + 20% + 20% + 20% + 20% + 20%

 

Prime Composition Star Prime BP Prime
Potassium Nitrate 31% 75%
Potassium Perchlorate 25% -
Charcoal 12% 15%
Sulfur 12% 15%
Black Iron Oxide 7% -
Magnalium 12% -
Phenolic Resin 4% -
Dextrin 4% +4%
75& Water / 25% Alchohol Spritz on Spritz on

(We'll come back to the White Kamuro and Electric Frizzball effect stars later!)

To start, first plan out your formulas, how much you'll need for each color comp, and add all those amounts up to weigh out your chemicals. Remember that nifty star prime chart? Here it is again for planning out how much prime you'll need:

Size of Stars Star Prime per lb of Stars
Caught by 3-mesh screen (BIG) 6 oz
Caught between 3 and 4-mesh screen (Medium) 7 oz
Caught between 4 and 10-mesh screen (small) 9 oz

Lay things out on a workbench so you are organized.

Supplies needed to make colored Spanish Stars

You'll need to first grind your oxidizers really fine, so they pass the 100-mesh screen.

Screening oxidizer through 100-mesh screen for making fireworks stars

We use a dedicated electric coffee grinder for each type of oxidizer. For this project, you'll need two: one for potassium nitrate (KNO3) (used for the primes and special effects stars), the other for potassium perchlorate (KClO4) (used for the star prime and the colored stars).

Next, weigh out your individual chemicals for each color, and add it to each labelled bag. The more compositions you make at once, the more you have to stay organized!

Below are a few examples of how useful these popsicle sticks and plastic cups are for weighing out your chemicals for each composition and adding it to a labelled plastic baggie.

Weighing chemicals for making Spanish Stars
Weighing chemicals for making Spanish Stars

Once you have weighed out all your chemicals and added them to each baggie, flick the zippers of the baggies to remove any loose powders and seal up each baggie air-tight. This is important, as you'll need air in the bag to help you mix the powder and alcohol into a putty ball. If there is any powder in the zipper, the baggie won't seal. Flick any powder out of the zipper so it can shut all the way. If the zipper gets clogged, use another bag. The bag MUST seal for an effective hand mix.

Leave a little air in there, so it makes the mixing easier to do. Taking each baggie, gently squish opposite sides back and forth, while rotating it side to side. The idea is to gently, but thoroughly pre-mix the powders together before you do the final mixing on the 60-mesh screen.

Most of the colored star mixtures will appear light brown, and the effect mixes and primes will appear grey.

Spanish Star compositions mixed
Mixed spanish star composition

Note, these are just pre-mixed, not fully mixed compositions yet! You will need to screen-mix them, explained below.

SAFETY: Upon mixing each baggie carefully, treat the mixed compositions from this point forward with the respect that they deserve. Avoid sources of ignition and static electricity. They are extremely energetic if they go off by accident, and will cause serious burns if you are not prepared for their ignition!

SCREEN-MIXING

Each composition needs to be thoroughly mixed for good performance. We do this by passing them through a 60 MESH SCREEN a total of three times. Use gloves and lots of fresh kraft paper for each composition.

Okay, for screen-mixing, lay out a fresh piece of kraft paper bigger than the framed screen, and label the paper with a Sharpie to match the composition you are mixing. Place the screen on the kraft paper, and put on some nitrile gloves.

Take your first star composition, open the baggie, and pour it onto the middle of the screen. Work your fingers through the composition against the screen, alternating between a wiggly-smearing motion against the screen, followed by a few gentle taps on the screen.

Fireworks star composition dumped onto a 100-mesh screen for mixing
Screen mixing fireworks star composition on a 100-mesh screen
100-mesh screen after screen mixing fireworks composition

At first, the mixtures will appear mixed, but as you rub them through the 60-mesh screen, you'll find there are clumps of different chemicals that get smeared out through the screen slower than other chemicals (like the phenolic resin powder, strontium carbonate, or copper oxide...depending on which colors you make)

Continue smearing and tapping the screen until most of the composition has passed through. When you remove the screen, you'll see different shades of colors, based on different chemicals that pass through at different times.

Fireworks star composition that's been passed through a 100-mesh screen
Fireworks star composition that's been passed through a 100-mesh screen
Screen mixed fireworks star composition

Notice how the phenolic resin clumps got pushed through last and ended up on top of the pile? Now you fold the kraft paper up, and force the different shades of powders to mix. See all these different-colored shades of powders? The hand-mixed star compositions are just not mixed enough. Screen mixing makes a huge difference with quality of your fireworks, and no serious fireworker skimps on screens, unless they want their fireworks to suck.

Again, if you were thinking you could just skip the screens, here they are again:

Screening your oxidizers and phenolic resin will require a 100 MESH SCREEN. Screen-mixing star composition and prime will require the 60 MESH SCREEN.

Repeat the screen-mixing again, passing everything through the screen a second time onto another piece of kraft paper.

Screen mixing fireworks composition through 100-mesh screen
Fireworks screen after screen mixing fireworks composition
Screen mixed fireworks star composition

Repeat one last time, mixing the composition through a total of three times! On the last screening, the powder should look uniform going from the top of the screen to the kraft paper, indicating a completely mixed star composition.

The star composition is now fully mixed, and you can carefully pour this into the original plastic baggie, or a new plastic baggie and seal it shut. LABEL IT with a Sharpie. Most of these colored star compositions like similar to each other. Stay organized.

Make sure to brush the screen off between batches to keep the color purity of the batches their best! If needed, spray the screen down with the 25% alcohol/water solution and wipe it clean with some paper towels before going to another composition.

Brush cleaning a mixing screen after mixing fireworks composition
Alcohol spray bottle for cleaning your mixing screen

Once the colored star compositions are passed through the screen, do the same for the prime composition, passing it through three times.

Spanish Star prime composition after screen mixing
Spanish Star prime composition after screen mixing

Take your pieces of dirty kraft paper, crumple them into balls, and add them to your hot-trash pile to burn off later. These pieces of powder-ladened kraft paper are highly flammable, so exercise caution with them.

To make these colored star compositions into stars, just add denatured alcohol in the amount of 20% of the weight of each composition in your baggie.

So, for example, if you made a 200g batch:

  • Add 200g x 20% = 40g of denatured alcohol to the composition in the baggie

If you made a 1 lb bag of star mix (16 oz):

  • 16 oz x 20% = 3.2 oz (by weight) of alcohol gets added to the baggie

Similarly, if you made just a 50g batch:

  • 50g x 20% = 10g of denatured alcohol to the composition in the baggie

And so on...

Now, zip it up tight so no air escapes. This is important, as you'll need air in the bag to help you mix the powder and alcohol into a putty ball. If there is any powder in the zipper, the baggie won't seal. Flick any powder out of the zipper so it can shut all the way. If the zipper gets clogged and doesn't zip up air-tight, use another bag. The bag MUST seal for an effective hand mix!

Hand mixing fireworks star composition in a plastic bag
Hand mixing fireworks star composition in a plastic bag

Really mix the solvent into the composition with your fingers, and work the water/alcohol into the powder until you end up with a little putty ball inside the bag. It's like trying to make a meatball from scratch, but inside a plastic baggie. Not the easiest thing in the world to do, but it works for this scale. Plus, the baggie keeps the mess contained! For bigger batches, just use bigger zipper bags! Same process.

Supplies for cutting and sizing fireworks stars
Shims for cutting fireworks stars to a specific size

For sizing the stars, 1/8" and 3/16" thick shims were used in combination with a straight dowel to roll the star composition into uniform colored star patties. We used 1/8" x 1/2" aluminum bars as shims - a couple of these bars end up being less than a dollar combined. We use a 1" diameter aluminum dowel to roll out the composition. The bars and dowel end up being about $3 combined, which we buy from a local metal shop. They are strong and will last forever. Parchment paper (or aluminum foil) can be used to cut your stars on.

Ball of fireworks composition ready to flatten for cutting
Fireworks composition ready to flatten for cutting
Flattening fireworks star composition for cutting

Open your star composition putty ball, and plop it onto a piece of parchment paper (or aluminum foil). Add another layer of paper on top of the putty ball, and place your shims on either side of the ball to use as thickness gauges for the dowel. Roll out the stack with the dowel until it is flat and flush with the shims you used.

Trimming flattened fireworks composition putty
Fireworks composition putty trimmed ready for second flattening
Flattening fireworks star composition for cutting

You'll end up with a blob of star putty that will need to be trimmed to size. Trim off the round edges to end up with a rectangle, and add the excess trims to the cut putty blob.

Rolling flat a putty of fireworks composition
Fireworks composition ready for cutting

Add the top layer of parchment back on the putty, and roll it out again. Remove the paper, and you'll be left with a putty rectangle almost ready to cut...

Trimming the edges of a flattened fireworks comp putty
Fireworks composition ready for cutting

Trim off the edges that have defects, and leave yourself with a nice rectangle to make your cut stars with.

Cutting fireworks star composition
Cutting fireworks star composition
Cutting fireworks star composition

Using a long, flat, sharp knife, cut away sections from the rectangle in little pillars, starting from the outside, and going in towards the center of the rectangle. If necessary, go half way in, then flip the paper around, and repeat the process on the other side...

Cutting fireworks star composition
Cutting fireworks star composition

Any excess that you have left, roll it up into another putty ball and you can this material into smaller stars with the thinner shims. Repeat the process.

Ball of fireworks composition
Rolling flat fireworks composition
Rolled flat fireworks composition
Fireworks composition flattened for cutting
Cutting fireworks star composition
Cutting fireworks star composition
Cutting fireworks star composition

Let these stars dry for a couple days, then shoot down to the section on "PRIMING THE STARS".

MAKING SPECIAL EFFECT STARS

Using the second table of formulas, you'll notice there are a couple stars that have some weird names to them.

Spanish Composition White Kamuro Electric Frizzball Star Prime BP Prime
Potassium Nitrate 61% 61% 31% 75%
Potassium Perchlorate - - 25% -
Charcoal 6% 6% 12% 15%
Sulfur 14% 14% 5% 10%
Black Iron Oxide - - 7% -
Magnalium - - 12% -
Titanium (20-200 mesh) 14% - - -
Titanium (200-325 sphr) - 14% - -
Phenolic Resin - - 4% -
Dextrin 5% 5% 4% +4%
Total (%) 100% 100% 100% 104%
75& Water / 25% Alchohol + 20% + 20% Spritz on Spritz on

These formulas don't use straight denatured alcohol like the colored formulas did with the phenolic resin, but mainly water to bind the dextrin (that's the 25% alcohol solution in the spray bottle that we like to use for many fireworks compositions and as a nice clean up solvent for when you're done)...Okay, here's the really cool stuff...

White Kamuro is kind of like a white Chrysanthemum effect, creating a beautiful and elegant bright white spark trail that hangs in the air for just a few seconds when the comp is made into stars and shot out of a star mine or a shell. Now, we took the same formula, and LIKE MAGIC, we turned it into something completely different with a simple substitution! You'll get two kinds of titanium in your Spanish Stars Effects Kit, and also in the Fully Loaded Spanish Stars Kit.

If you simply change out the grit of titanium, but keep everything else the same in the composition, you get A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT AND AMAZING EFFECT! It's hard to describe this neat fuzzy and high energy star other than "Electric Frizzball". You'll have to see it to believe it!

So, here we go. We'll demo the White Kamuro using the 20-200 mesh titanium. The Electric Frizzball is the same process, except you use the Bright White 200-325 mesh titanium instead!

First, get your chemicals together:

Chemicals for making effects stars from the Spanish Stars

And your supplies:

Supplies for making effects stars from the Spanish Stars

We're going to make just 50 grams of White Kamuro for demonstration. You'll need the 100-mesh screen to screen the potassium nitrate (KNO3 for all ya'll chemistry nerds out there!). Grind it up in your KNO3 electric grinder, and screen it through the 100-mesh screen like this. Rubbing the potassium nitrate with the back of your gloved fingers against the screen and periodically tapping the screen works pretty well to get the fine crystals through to the kraft paper sheet below.

Screening potassium nitrate through 100-mesh screen
Screening potassium nitrate through 100-mesh screen
Screening potassium nitrate through 100-mesh screen

You will end up with some coarse grains of nitrate left behind – toss this back into your grinder, and cap it for next time.

Potassium nitrate screened through 100-mesh screen
Weighing potassium nitrate for fireworks composition
Brush cleaning a fireworks making screen

What gets rubbed through the screen on the other side is fine potassium nitrate. Weigh out what you need, and toss the rest back into the grinder for your next grind too. Clean the screen after you're done with a brush.

Weighing chemicals for making a fireworks stars
Weigh and bagged chemicals for making fireworks stars
Hand mixing Kamuro star composition in a plastic bag

Weigh out the other chemicals, but HOLD OFF ON THE TITANIUM! Titanium gets added in AFTER the rest of the composition is screen mixed.

PRO-TIP: Keep your titanium out of the screen mixing steps. You add the titanium to your comp after you pre-mix the other ingredients through the screen, then do a final hand mix in the sealed baggie to get it all in there. Don't worry, the titanium quickly disperses well into the composition. Titanium tends to get stuck in the 60-mesh screen, and is a NIGHTMARE to remove! Thank your lucky stars, though, the fine magnalium used in the prime and star comps is fine to go through the 60-mesh star comp screen (sorry about that Dad joke there).

Hand mixed Kamuro fireworks star composition
Hand mixed Kamuro fireworks star composition
Hand mixed Kamuro fireworks star composition

Anyway, pass the mixture (without titanium in it yet) through your 60-mesh screen onto a fresh piece of kraft paper, and repeat two more times until completely mixed together just like we did for the prime comps and the colored star comps.

Brush cleaning a mixing screen after mixing fireworks composition

Make sure to clean off your screen!

Hand mixed White Kamuro star composition
Bag mixing white Kamuro stars

Take your mixture and pour it back into the baggie, being careful not to pour powder into the zipper portion of the bag!

Weighing titanium for making White Kamuro fireworks stars
Adding titanium to hand mixed white Kamuro fireworks star composition
Bag mixing white Kamuro stars

Finally, add your titanium (20-200 mesh Spherical and Flake for White Kamuro) into the baggie and carefully mix the titanium into the powder with your fingers to get it evenly distributed through the composition.

Tap away any powder out of the zipper so it can shut all the way. If the zipper gets clogged, use another bag, and label it. The bag MUST seal for an effective hand mix!

Preparing to weight solvent to add to White Kamuro star composition
Weighing solvent to add to White Kamuro star composition
Adding solvent to white Kamuro star composition

Add in the solvent (we used 10g of [75% water/25% alcohol] solvent for a 50g batch, which is 20% of 50g).

Bag mixing solvent into fireworks star composition
White Kamuro star composition with solvent added

Mix the solvent into the composition with your fingers, and work the water/alcohol into the powder until you end up with a little putty ball inside the bag like you did on the colored stars.

Cutting white Kamuro fireworks stars
Cutting white Kamuro fireworks stars

Press the putty ball out flat onto your cutting sheet (aluminum foil shown here works, and so does parchment paper or waxed paper). Use a sharp, long, flat-bladed knife like the one shown here to cut the pancake into strips, carefully separating them like this. A nice big meat cleaver also works wonders!

Cutting white Kamuro fireworks stars
Cutting white Kamuro fireworks stars

Then cut the ends of the strips from outside in, slicing and sliding the little cubes you make outwards into neat, ordered rows for them to dry. These are your cut White Kamuro stars.

The process to make the Electric Frizzball stars is EXACTLY THE SAME as the Kamuro stars, just swap out the type of titanium (use Bright White 200-325 mesh for Electric Frizzball). Let these dry for a couple days to a week, depending on weather conditions.

PRIMING THE STARS

We'll be using the two primes in this section.

Prime Composition Star Prime BP Prime
Potassium Nitrate 31% 75%
Potassium Perchlorate 25% -
Charcoal 12% 15%
Sulfur 12% 15%
Black Iron Oxide 7% -
Magnalium 12% -
Phenolic Resin 4% -
Dextrin 4% +4%
75& Water / 25% Alchohol Spritz on Spritz on

And again, if you just made some stars, or planned to make the primes after you saved up on stars, here's the table for amount of prime to pounds of stars depending on size.

Size of Stars Star Prime per lb of Stars
Caught by 3-mesh screen (BIG) 6 oz
Caught between 3 and 4-mesh screen (Medium) 7 oz
Caught between 4 and 10-mesh screen (small) 9 oz

Get your supplies together for priming the stars:

Supplies for priming Spanish Stars cut firework stars

This is where a dust mask and goggles REALLY come in handy. We are going to be spritzing them with water/alcohol spray to get the prime to stick to the stars, then pouring on primer powder to handfuls of these wet stars and shaking/rolling them around. It will be DUSTY. This will ensure the stars ignite and ignite properly in whatever application you have in mind for them (ie: shells, mines, sky mines, large fountains, rocket headings, etc.).

If you have a batch of stars with all kinds of different sized cut stars in it, you'll want to setup your fireworks screens in a stack, with the smallest numbered mesh on top, and the lowest on the bottom (smaller mesh = larger pass-through hole).

3, 4 and 10 mesh fireworks making screens
Preparing to screen size fireworks stars
Screen sizing fireworks stars

Here, we stack a 10-mesh, 4-mesh, and a 3-mesh screen to filter the stars based on their size.

Screen sizing fireworks stars
Screen sized fireworks stars
Screen sized fireworks stars

This partitions them into ranges that are more suitable for each application. For example, large stars that get retained on the 3-mesh screen are good for large-diameter shells, as they are bigger and tend to burn for a longer time than smaller stars. Stars that get trapped on the 4-mesh screen are in a tighter tolerance range, passing 3-mesh, but getting trapped at 4-mesh. These are good for smaller-sized shells (like 2.5" and 3" shells). Stars that get trapped on the 10-mesh screen pass 4-mesh, so contain stars between 4-mesh and 10-mesh. These are good for smaller shells, small mines, large fountains, and small rocket headings. The small stuff that passes through the 10-mesh screen can be considered "microstars", and those have really neat applications in small stage-sized mines and close-proximity special effects!

Once your stars are sorted, start with a size partition and get them primed as follows...

Fireworks star prime in a measuring cup
Container for priming fireworks stars
Fireworks stars ready to prime

Fill a measuring cup with a little of your star prime, and pour the stars into a plastic mixing bowl like shown above.

Wetting fireworks stars before priming
Dampened fireworks stars ready for prime
Pouring prime onto fireworks stars

Spray the stars with a little of the water/alcohol solution, and rock and roll and swirl the stars around in the bowl to wet their surfaces. Add in a little star prime to the bowl, then shake/swirl the bowl to get the prime coating to stick onto the damp stars.

Fireworks stars coated in prime
Sifting excess prime off fireworks stars
Excess prime sifted off fireworks stars

You'll notice a little prime doesn't stick to the stars, but to the bowl. You can use a strainer to sift out unbound prime over Kraft paper, and also scrape away built-up prime composition from the bowl onto a piece of kraft paper. This prime can be reused later, but for now, just keep adding fresh prime to the stars.

Second coat of prime on fireworks stars
Sifting excess prime off fireworks stars

Keep shaking/rolling the stars until most of the prime powder sticks to them. Repeat the process to build up the star prime composition onto your stars. Repeat the process for the different sizes of stars too, until you have all your stars coated with a good layer of prime.

Let the stars dry for a day or so.

As a final coating, let's finish the stars off with a dusting of black powder (BP) prime to really make sure these stars light up reliably. The author in the Spanish Papers claims the star prime is one step. While most of the stars DO light up fine, we noticed a few did not ignite, so we added this last "powder dusting" of BP to get all the stars to light up without issue.

Black powder prime supplies
Wetting primed fireworks stars
Fireworks stars ready for black powder prime

Just like before, the process of the final BP dusting on the star prime composition is the same. Same solvent, same process. We used a different tub for rolling the BP coating onto the primed stars.

Black powder priming fireworks stars
Black powder priming fireworks stars

Wet the stars, roll them around to get them all damp, then add some BP prime, roll the stars around to get the Bp to cling to the surfaces...and one more time around for good measure...

Black powder priming fireworks stars
Black powder priming fireworks stars

Now that you have your stars fully covered with BP, lay them out to dry for several days in a safe place away from disturbances, kids, pets, flammables, etc. Keep them away from ignition sources! These are the REAL DEAL! Excellent quality stars made with simple techniques and easily-acquired tools.

Finished fireworks stars
Finished fireworks stars

Your Spanish Stars are ready for loading into your next pyro project!

Buy a Spanish Star Kit and
SAVE 20% off buying the chemicals separately

Skylighter offers FOUR different Spanish Star kits and a Spanish Star Prime Kit:

Red & Orange Spanish Star Kit - enough chemicals to make 4 pounds of stars!

Green & Turquoise Spanish Star Kit - enough chemicals to make 4 pounds of stars!

Purple & White Spanish Star Kit - enough chemicals to make about 4 pounds of stars!

White Kamuro & Electric Fizzball Spanish Star Kit - enough chemicals to make 4 pounds of stars!

Spanish Star Prime Kit - enough chemicals to prime 4 pounds of stars!

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