How to Make a Sparkler

2 girls playing with sparklers
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Sparklers are a handheld 'fireworks' that don't explode (pyrotechnic devices). They are easy to make, plus you can use your knowledge of chemistry to make colored sparks.

Difficulty: Average

Time Required: minutes to make, several hours drying time

What You Need to Make a Sparkler

  • 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)

How to Make the Homemade Sparkler

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Allow the mixture to dry completely before igniting the sparkler.
  4. Store sparklers away from heat or flame, and protected from high humidity.

Tips

  1. Parts are by weight.
  2. Be certain the sparkler is 'out' and cooled before discarding it. This is easily accomplished by dipping the stick in a bucket of water.
  3. Firework use is restricted or prohibited in some areas. Please check your local laws before igniting homemade or purchased sparklers.

Source is L.P. Edel, "Mengen en Roeren", 2nd edition (1936), p.22, as cited from Wouter's Practical Pyrotechnics

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