Experiments in blowing colored sparkley fire.

I’ve been blowing fire with pyrotechnic chemicals (for color) and metal powders (for sparkle.)



My friend Foo made a pneumatic flame projector, ‘Betsy’. The first few fires were with gasoline, but he really caught my attention when he fired a giant fireball of methyl alcohol and strontium chloride. It lit up the area with saturated road-flare red for hundreds of yards around. He’s started some notes, under PyroExMachina.

An article from Skylighter.com on Ghost mines (partway down.) A followup with pictures!



Some links on health information. In reading each of the following, I figure on absorbing only a small number of milligrams orally; consider that normal doses of lithium carbonate (for bipolar mania) are on the order of 1-2 grams per day. (No swallowing!) I am mostly concerned about problems with chronic doses.

Here’s a great government resource for toxicity summaries - ‘ATSDR’. Much easier to read than MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets) which are usually almost entirely boilerplate.

Mineral Tolerance of Domestic Animals.


Everything comes in different mesh sizes - which make a big difference. It’s easier to get lots of smaller stuff up in the air - but bigger particles will billow for half a second after the flame has died out - a great effect. Mixes are good.

  • Magnesium.
    • Magnesium likes to react! It’ll pull the oxygen out of water to oxidize itself, creating heat - which can be bad - and hydrogen - which likes to explode. It will slowly oxidize in plain water - leaving hydrogen bubbles. In other situations, it’ll oxidize very quickly! It’s bad news with boric acid solutions - no sparkles with the lime green. Copper chloride will also catalyze it - I found out the hard way that if it’s mixed (dry) with copper chloride hydrate, it reacts vigorously when shaken.
    • Fine magnesium reacts faster.
    • Fine magnesium on skin + liquid soap (before water) = thermal burn. Very strange!
    • Magnesium (and many other metals, especially titanium) will ‘go bad’ over time; they’ll develop an oxide coating and refuse to burn if left open for any time at all, and especially if even a drop of water gets in the container.
    • I’ve heard (and believe) some concern that powdered Mg may create free radicals in the body. Eat your vitamin C.
  • Steel - I need a good shot of this! Branching yellow sparks.
  • Iron.
  • Titanium Crackly white sparks.
    • Lots of titanium is an alloy that contains vanadium, which is cumulative, turns your tongue green/black, and is bad for you!
  • Carbon. Floating post-blow spark-mushrooms.
  • Aluminum (A bust. But if it’s useful, here’s a health overview.) I’ve had some luck with dark aluminum, but no firebreathing data yet.



Mail me! (Mike) at mcca.be.