Retrospectacle: A Neuroscience Blog

Happy 4th of July, however you’ll be spending it. I’ll be watching the hotdog-eating contest on TV, going to get a couple Coney dogs myself, and then fireworks of course! I gotta say that the hot dog eating contest just won’t be the same without Takeru “Tsunami” Kobayashi, who is suffering from jaw arthritis. Maybe its all a ploy to think he’s not gonna show.

Edit: Kobeyashi *did* show but came in a close second to Joey Chestnut.

So, in honor of doing crazy stuffs, I think I may try my hand at making some homemade sparklers. I posted this how-to last year but never got around to trying it out. Sound like fun?

What You Need:
– 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)

All these ingredients are legal and can be ordered or bought at a chemical supply store like Science Stuff or Chem Bargains.

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



  1. #1 Fritz
    July 4, 2007

    During my teenage delinquent youth my homemade “sparklers consisted of a bunch of balled up steel wool about the size of a baseball.
    After forming the ball of steel wool you wrapped some wire around it and then made a leader about 12 inches from the ball with the same wire. Next you tie a string to it about 7 foot long.
    Now light the edge of the steel wool and begin to spin the whole deal around yourself like a bolo. For about a half a minute you will feel like a faraway planet surrounded by your own ring of sparks.
    It also helps a great deal if you are about ten years old

  2. #2 Chris
    July 4, 2007

    A few July 4th’s ago I was on a little firebase on the Pakistani border and it was.. uh.. the 4th of July. We had 50 men who like big booms with the technical expertise to MAKE big booms, enough military-grade explosives and incendaries to flatten a small city, boredom, and more than enough time on our hands… hmmmm WHAT TO DO???

    Good times.

  3. #3 Ailsa
    October 8, 2010

    It really effective?

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