# Ignitor Pyrogen

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#### cwbullet

##### Obsessed with Rocketry
Staff member
Global Mod
I made a dip last night with the base being an ABS slurry. It works. I have plenty of ABS from failed prints.

#### jderimig

I still have a pound of dry NC (well moistened with water) at least 12 years old now. Is it still safe? Its white and doesn't smell funny...

#### SharkWhisperer

##### Well-Known Member
I still have a pound of dry NC (well moistened with water) at least 12 years old now. Is it still safe? Its white and doesn't smell funny...
Probably. Typical degradation products of NC are reddish gas emission and yellowing of the NC itself. And moist there is no danger of fire--that's how it's shipped/stored. Possibly yours has stabilizer (usually diphenylamine) added to scavange any nitrogen oxides that might be released. I've got a pound that I've had in the freezer (sealed wet) for several years, which looks as white as the day it arrived. You can easily extract a small amount and dry it off and see how it burns. If it burns like guncotton does, rapidly disappearing with little visible gas and essentially no solid residue, then you can be assured that it remains high-quality. If there is residue, that would suggest that it has lost some of it's nitration status, but might still have utility. Unless it has a funny odor, has changed color, or is emitting reddish gasses, then safety is not really a concern as long as you continue to store the bulk of it (anything you're not testing/using) under water.

#### shockie

##### High Plains Drifter
I am testing pyrogen mixtures this weekend and have 100 blanks made. My goal is to make 100 igniters to figure out how much it costs me and if it is worth my time to make them or continue buying them. I have a dozen or so recipes to try.

##### Well-Known Member

Since I have a pint of good 25% NC lacquer I've never used this source before but if the description is correct it should be high quality NC. Interesting that they ship it under 30% IPA rather than just water.

#### SharkWhisperer

##### Well-Known Member

Since I have a pint of good 25% NC lacquer I've never used this source before but if the description is correct it should be high quality NC. Interesting that they ship it under 30% IPA rather than just water.
Tim runs PCS and is a good gent to do business with. If it's shown online, it's available, and he's pretty responsive to e-queries if you have any.

#### cwbullet

##### Obsessed with Rocketry
Staff member
Global Mod
I tested igniters this weekend. I need to dry my Potassium Nitrate but they worked well. I am shocked how well ABS slurry worked as a dip.

#### ksaves2

I still have some FireF NC that "rolls" in the cans so I expect I'm o.k.

I got too many "starters" I made in the past so I don't have to break into the cans yet and throw some thinner in to make some more starters. (Probably acetone is best but maybe toluene might get by?) Respondents on this please?

I spent 4 years dinking with igniters in the old days during the wintertime along with waiting for the epoxy to dry on my rockets fins and such.

ANY igniter formula that works to get one's rocket to fly is the one to use! Period! Arguing about it is like pi$$ing on the toilet seat to tick off ones wife!!!!!!! (I'm a widower now so I can say that) Putting formulas in the restricted Research section is Kosher. I have a variety of igniters I made many years ago and I, out of habit, still put one to three "breaks" in my igniter heads with two hands just before launch. Lets the builtup of gases out just before the igniter catches and flares. Don't have do this with commercial igniters but I'm ignorant and "cracking the heads" works with what I made as off-nominal as they may be!!! Kurt Savegnago #### SharkWhisperer ##### Well-Known Member I still have some FireF NC that "rolls" in the cans so I expect I'm o.k. I got too many "starters" I made in the past so I don't have to break into the cans yet and throw some thinner in to make some more starters. (Probably acetone is best but maybe toluene might get by?) Respondents on this please? I spent 4 years dinking with igniters in the old days during the wintertime along with waiting for the epoxy to dry on my rockets fins and such. ANY igniter formula that works to get one's rocket to fly is the one to use! Period! Arguing about it is like pi$$ing on the toilet seat to tick off ones wife!!!!!!! (I'm a widower now so I can say that)
Putting formulas in the restricted Research section is Kosher.

I have a variety of igniters I made many years ago and I, out of habit, still put one to three "breaks" in my igniter heads with two hands just before launch. Lets the builtup of gases out just before the igniter catches and flares. Don't have do this with commercial igniters but I'm ignorant and "cracking the heads" works with what I made as off-nominal as they may be!!!

Kurt Savegnago
Acetone is great but evaporates very quickly--to me this is a plus not a minus for "starter" dips, but for rolling out and cutting dragon eggs (fireworking) you usually screw up the first time or two, especially if you don't have an (acetone-safe) spray bottle at hand. For a slower evaporating thinner, many use MEK (methyl ethyl ketone), which is sold in cans right next to acetone at HD, Lowe's, and WallyWorld, for about the same price. It gives you more working time and is not all that worrisome, but as always, including with acetone, work with a window open and a fan or outside.

There's no arguing about pyrogen formulations. I know what works and works 100%, and balance that with what is most cost economical. I can light any motor I've ever known, for pennies. Reliably. Always happy to share what I use, but that's a PM topic, not open forum here (unfortunately).

I am not privy to the "Research" section due to overstringent club-acceptance requirements whereas other very open and public forums exist that have no issue openly swapping comps (encouraged; sharing, you know...) with zero fear of legal repercussions. And have for several decades without the alphabets knocking down doors. Given that probably less than 1% of TRF's populace (lurkers included) have gained that mighty privilege to join the "research" club, I wonder how much talented discussion is lost in the other 99%, and exactly what I might learn from that exhalted 1%; I'm guessing some but not much. I think that you have seriously self-limited yourselves in "Research" out of unfounded paranoia. Gt to ScienceMadness/energetic compounds or amateurpyro.com for open, experienced, and in-depth discussion about rocket motor igniter comps, and other interesting topics. They are monitored by ATF etc (of course), just like TRF is, which is why safety comes first and they do a great job of self-policing so bs and morons that just want to blow stuff up are swiftly and unanimously ostracized. But we don't use top secret good ol' boys' clubs for basic research queries (APC does have a segregated/gated high explosives subforum, but you'd get better info on those topics freely from SciMad et al anyways).

Never needed to crack breaks into my pyrogen and hope I never would have to (why???) but appreciate that you use that simple technique to salvage otherwise problematic "starters".

#### SharkWhisperer

##### Well-Known Member
I tested igniters this weekend. I need to dry my Potassium Nitrate but they worked well. I am shocked how well ABS slurry worked as a dip.
Though potassium nitrate is thought to be mildly hygroscopic, it really isn't all that much. Perhaps 2-3% max water weight usually, though a bit more in super high humidity over time. I uploaded a US Army study of nitrate water absorption over many months last week, when they were testing alternate flash powder formulations for artillery simulators that were nitrate based (cheaper and less polluting than standard moderately-toxic perc formulations); you can easily find this report with a quick search.

Nonetheless, because I had mill clumping issues, I religiously dry out my potassium nitrate (strontium nitrate, too, especially) in the oven (250F for an hour) before milling, grinding to dust, or making comps with it. Most of my occasional clumping issues when ball-milling BP and related comps were due to charcoal absorbing water--it can easily absorb 20% it's weight in water (demonstrated) and still seem perfectly dry to the touch. More moisture than that, even. Others I know and trust have recorded up to 50% additional water weight; surprising to me but not beyond the realms of reality given its surface area. This can really screw up your comps when you add 15 g and actually only have added 10 g charcoal and 5 g water... Charcoal sticks (homemade) are broken down to granules/powder by hammer and then oven baked before use or storage with desiccant packets (color-changing works great and are re-useable) before milling or grinding to dust. Commercial (rarely but occasionally purchased) always gets baked. Never a clumping issue since and I know my formulations are spot-on.

And I agree with Kurt that arguing about pyrogen comps is pointless--use what works. But I'm always happy to help you get fired up properly if what you're using isn't satisfactory. My motors light instantly and every single time--except that one time when I failed with several sparky igniters in a row a few months back, to realize I'd been trying to ignite a previously flown empty BP motor that you could see through, arrghhhh!!!! That's when my PhD went to a Ph D- ...

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#### cwbullet

##### Obsessed with Rocketry
Staff member
Global Mod
Good stuff. Thanks.

#### Mike Haberer

##### Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
There are a lot of suggestions in this and other threads about igniters/starters, but I wanted to test some options myself. I tested the following four igniters variations, all using Estes old igniters as the base (not the new StarTech igniters):

1. Stock Estes igniters.
2. Stock Estes igniters dipped in Testors silver paint.
3. Stock Estes igniters dipped in Testors silver paint and BP.
4. Stock Estes igniters dipped in Testors silver paint and magnesium shavings.

I ran one test of the four side-by-side to see how they compared to each other.
I then ran one test of 3 of each modified igniter side-by-side. I wanted to determine if any would be good for clusters. I love clusters and you want consistent ignition in terms of the time it takes to ignite, as well as a vigorous burn.

First test, comparing all four against each other.

The silver paint is better than the stock igniters (I have been using them for a while now, none have failed to ignite a BP motor). The paint and BP dipped look to be a bullet proof modification, as expected. The magnesium dipped ignitors did not flash as much as the BP but burned much longer (more below from Test 5).

None of my Slo-Mo videos will upload correctly for some reason, I have no idea why, unless they are too large. I will just describe the rest of the tests.

3 Silver Paint Dipped Only - all three lit at the same time, so potentially usable for clusters.

3 Silver Paint & BP Dipped - all three lit at the same time, vigorously. There was BP covering the paint top to bottom. In the slo-mo you can see the BP ignite at the top of the igniter and burn downwards. Likely far more than necessary. In my next test with this modification I'll dip just the tip in BP. I suspect it will be sufficient.

3 Silver Paint & Magnesium Dipped - all three lit at the same time, but not nearly as vigorously as in Test 1. My initial conclusion is that while you can get a really long burn with magnesium shavings, the vigor of the ignition is more dependent on the quality of the dip. Magnesium dip might be a good alternative for enhancing composite motor igniters for motors that are hard to start (i.e., Mojave Green). That would require a lot more testing.

One of my key objectives was to determine whether any of these would be an alternative to buying 3rd party BP motor "starters" (MJH Technologies). My conclusion is that Estes igniters that come with their motors, enhanced with paint and BP, should work well for clustered BP motors.

I'll run another set of tests with StarTech igniters (need to buy some) and StarTech igniters enhanced with paint and BP sometime this summer. I ordered some old school ping pong balls from Amazon and will add that to the test mix, as well. I got a gross of PP balls on Amazon for $10; enough to last several lifetimes....... Last edited: #### SharkWhisperer ##### Well-Known Member There are a lot of suggestions in this and other threads about igniters/starters, but I wanted to test some options myself. I tested the following four igniters variations, all using Estes old igniters as the base (not the new StarTech igniters): 1. Stock Estes igniters. 2. Stock Estes igniters dipped in Testors silver paint. 3. Stock Estes igniters dipped in Testors silver paint and BP. 4. Stock Estes igniters dipped in Testors silver paint and magnesium shavings. I ran one test of the four side-by-side to see how they compared to each other. I then ran one test of 3 of each modified igniter side-by-side. I wanted to determine if any would be good for clusters. I love clusters and you want consistent ignition in terms of the time it takes to ignite, as well as a vigorous burn. First test, comparing all four against each other. View attachment 465888 The silver paint is better than the stock igniters (I have been using them for a while now, none have failed to ignite a BP motor). The paint and BP dipped look to be a bullet proof modification, as expected. The magnesium dipped ignitors did not flash as much as the BP but burned much longer (more below from Test 5). None of my Slo-Mo videos will upload correctly for some reason, I have no idea why, unless they are too large. I will just describe the rest of the tests. 3 Silver Paint Dipped Only - all three lit at the same time, so potentially usable for clusters. 3 Silver Paint & BP Dipped - all three lit at the same time, vigorously. There was BP covering the paint top to bottom. In the slo-mo you can see the BP ignite at the top of the igniter and burn downwards. Likely far more than necessary. In my next test with this modification I'll dip just the tip in BP. I suspect it will be sufficient. 3 Silver Paint & Magnesium Dipped - all three lit at the same time, but not nearly as vigorously as in Test 1. My initial conclusion is that while you can get a really long burn with magnesium shavings, the vigor of the ignition is more dependent on the quality of the dip. Magnesium dip might be a good alternative for enhancing composite motor igniters for motors that are hard to start (i.e., Mojave Green). That would require a lot more testing. One of my key objectives was to determine whether any of these would be an alternative to buying 3rd party BP motor "starters" (MJH Technologies). My conclusion is that Estes igniters that come with their motors, enhanced with paint and BP, should work well for clustered BP motors. I'll run another set of tests with StarTech igniters (need to buy some) and StarTech igniters enhanced with paint and BP sometime this summer. I ordered some old school ping pong balls from Amazon and will add that to the test mix, as well. I got a gross of PP balls on Amazon for$10; enough to last several lifetimes.......
Nice testing. Your Mg might have taken fire better if you'd included some supplemental oxidizer--Mg alone in air will burn hot but not very vigorously in those quantities. Even adding 5% Mg to your BP will give a noticeable enhancement. But Mg is a super reactive metal when fine-grained, and is more prone to chemical interactions than MgAl or Al, especially in the context of humidity/moisture, which could affect performance and degrade with long-term storage. I prefer to use MgAl alloy (-60 mesh; dust mixed with granules) or even just straight Al. What mesh-size was your Mg? And what BP were you using?

You'll probably notice an improvement with your celluloid PP balls vs other plastic binders (yuk) but why not use smokeless powder for about the same price?. A gross of Chicom PP balls is about 3/4 pound. That should make a lot of igniters ahem "starters". But a pound of smokeless is not much more and has better burn characteristics--it's not half camphor which is a pretty slow fuel. Made to burn, not bounce!

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#### teepot

##### Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
In my pyrogen I added some Titanium Sponge. The starters burn like sparklers.

#### DragonRocketry

TRF Supporter
I use mag flake and 400 mesh.

#### Mike Haberer

##### Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
Nice testing. Your Mg might have taken fire better if you'd included some supplemental oxidizer--Mg alone in air will burn hot but not very vigorously in those quantities. Even adding 5% Mg to your BP will give a noticeable enhancement. But Mg is a super reactive metal when fine-grained, and is prone to water interactions that could affect performance, especially after long storage. I prefer to use MgAl alloy (-60 mesh; dust mixed with granules) or even just straight Al. What mesh-size was your Mg? And what BP were you using?

You'll probably notice an improvement with your celluloid PP balls vs other plastic binders (yuk) but why not use smokeless powder for about the same price?. A gross of Chicom PP balls is about 3/4 pound. That should make a lot of igniters ahem "starters". But a pound of smokeless is not much more and has better burn characteristics--it's not half camphor which is a pretty slow fuel. Made to burn, not bounce!
BP is FFFFg. The Mg was a trial effort using shavings from a Mg fire starter, not the most scientific effort, but informative.

Testors paint has Al in it, which is why the combo with BP seems to work well in my tests.

As for the PP Balls, I want to try it out and see for myself. Learning by doing.

Smokeless powder may be fine, but I don't think I need it when I already have BP and it works for this purpose.

#### prfesser

There are a lot of suggestions in this and other threads about igniters/starters, but I wanted to test some options myself. I tested the following four igniters variations, all using Estes old igniters as the base (not the new StarTech igniters):

1. Stock Estes igniters.
2. Stock Estes igniters dipped in Testors silver paint.
3. Stock Estes igniters dipped in Testors silver paint and BP.
4. Stock Estes igniters dipped in Testors silver paint and magnesium shavings.
Mike has the right of it, especially for BP motors; if they can usually be lit by the stock starch starter, almost any improvement will work a treat. It doesn't take much to set them off. If I were doing lots of BP motors I'd do the Testors (or almost any other silver paint, as they usually use powdered aluminum) and call it good. Don't over-think what's already been done, don't re-invent the wheel. Mike's shown it. Stick a fork in it and call it done. How much does a tiny vial of silver paint cost anyway, and how many starters are to be made?

Best -- Terry

#### Mike Haberer

##### Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
How much does a tiny vial of silver paint cost anyway, and how many starters are to be made?

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#### SILVERFOX

##### Active Member
Thank you for sharing the info. I am dipping bare wire. I have not considered how atmospheric water can play such a big part in degrading nitrate. There's much more to this than I had assumed. I'll move forward with experiments and keep asking questions. Thanks again.

#### SharkWhisperer

##### Well-Known Member
Thank you for sharing the info. I am dipping bare wire. I have not considered how atmospheric water can play such a big part in degrading nitrate. There's much more to this than I had assumed. I'll move forward with experiments and keep asking questions. Thanks again.
My pleasure. That mix is pretty simple to replicate a fresh batch of. Stuff like Procast requires a little more up-front investment... Little chemistry details sometimes make the difference in complicating a simple mix, though. What's that old saying about "keeping your powder dry"? It applies to acetone, too--that stuff's an atmospheric humidity sponge :=}

#### Ez2cDave

##### Well-Known Member
There are a lot of suggestions in this and other threads about igniters/starters, but I wanted to test some options myself. I tested the following four igniters variations, all using Estes old igniters as the base (not the new StarTech igniters):

1. Stock Estes igniters.
2. Stock Estes igniters dipped in Testors silver paint.
3. Stock Estes igniters dipped in Testors silver paint and BP.
4. Stock Estes igniters dipped in Testors silver paint and magnesium shavings.

3 Silver Paint Dipped Only - all three lit at the same time, so potentially usable for clusters.

3 Silver Paint & BP Dipped - all three lit at the same time, vigorously. There was BP covering the paint top to bottom. In the slo-mo you can see the BP ignite at the top of the igniter and burn downwards. Likely far more than necessary. In my next test with this modification I'll dip just the tip in BP. I suspect it will be sufficient.

3 Silver Paint & Magnesium Dipped - all three lit at the same time, but not nearly as vigorously as in Test 1. My initial conclusion is that while you can get a really long burn with magnesium shavings, the vigor of the ignition is more dependent on the quality of the dip. Magnesium dip might be a good alternative for enhancing composite motor igniters for motors that are hard to start (i.e., Mojave Green). That would require a lot more testing.
We have a WINNER . . . Testor's Silver Paint & BP ! ( I think a Testor's Silver Paint / BP / Magnesium dip might be optimum, particularly for Composite Motors ).

Dave F.

#### jsdemar

##### Well-Known Member
Hardware store acetone is typically 0.5% water. A sealed can (or one open for a short time) won't take on significant atmospheric moisture above that point. Lab grade 99.9% acetone will absorb some, but the bottle seals are better quality.

More likely, the Quickdip was not sealed well, lost the acetone and absorbed moisture (especially in MD, humid climate). This degraded the oxidizer and oxidized the metal, giving less reactivity.

ProCast (B-KnO3-Viton) doesn't dry out in the same way when the acetone evaporates. The metal and oxidizer remain coated in the fluoroelastomer, protecting it from moisture. It can be reconstituted with acetone years later without significant degradation. At Black Rock last year I removed the BKnO3-V from a large igniter (O sized), dissolved it in acetone, and re-dipped a dozen e-matches to light G-H-I motors.

For dry pyrogen formulas, it's better to add a little NC along with the acetone. It will coat the ingredients after the acetone evaporates. But NC is brittle and not as protective as a rubber compound. You can use other inert plastics but it will take away from the pyrogen's ignitability and energy. Viton is >60% F, an excellent oxidizer.

#### ksaves2

BP is FFFFg. The Mg was a trial effort using shavings from a Mg fire starter, not the most scientific effort, but informative.

Testors paint has Al in it, which is why the combo with BP seems to work well in my tests.

As for the PP Balls, I want to try it out and see for myself. Learning by doing.

Smokeless powder may be fine, but I don't think I need it when I already have BP and it works for this purpose.
I did PP ball lacquer very early on in my career and it does work fine but the components one puts into it really matters. Like KNO3,Mg etc.
One has to remember that there are inhibitors in PP ball plastic so the balls don't go "bang" when one hits them with a ping pong paddle. It still works if one doesn't have a resource for real NC lacquer.

Kurt

Kurt

#### SharkWhisperer

##### Well-Known Member
I did PP ball lacquer very early on in my career and it does work fine but the components one puts into it really matters. Like KNO3,Mg etc.
One has to remember that there are inhibitors in PP ball plastic so the balls don't go "bang" when one hits them with a ping pong paddle. It still works if one doesn't have a resource for real NC lacquer.

Kurt

Kurt
The only inhibitor in NC PP balls is the camphor that is used to solubilize NC and shape the ball. It also acts as a stabilizer to minimize nitrate shedding/reactivity of the celluloid NC. The celluloid in PP balls is of low nitration levels (probably around 10-11% nitrogen, max) and would never ever go bang from smacking it with a paddle. Even if your balls were made with explosive-quality NC (nitrogen content in the 13%s) with zero stabilizer, they still would never detonate, or even ignite, from a paddle smack. Or a hammer smack. It takes a lot of initiating explosive force to detonate NC, and low-nitration celluloid PP balls can not be made to explode under any circumstances. If you put a blasting cap into a pile of PP ball-derived celluloid (mostly low-nitrogen dinitrates), the only thing that will detonate is your blasting cap. Period. With respect, suggesting otherwise is perpetuating mistaken understandings of NC characteristics. But yes, PP balls are an (imperfect) substitute for the high-nitration NC in smokeless or pure form; at least it is reasonably flammable, unlike a lot of plastics in some commercial dips and paints.

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#### cwbullet

##### Obsessed with Rocketry
Staff member
Global Mod
I did PP ball lacquer very early on in my career and it does work fine but the components one puts into it really matters. Like KNO3,Mg etc.
One has to remember that there are inhibitors in PP ball plastic so the balls don't go "bang" when one hits them with a ping pong paddle. It still works if one doesn't have a resource for real NC lacquer.

Kurt

Kurt
Me too. Ping pong balls work but you soon realize they are imperfect and the alternatives are easy to acquire.