How to Make and Test Improvised Pyrotechnic Igniters

How to Make and Test Improvised Pyrotechnic Igniters

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Improvised pyrotechnic igniters are awesome. Heck, any kind of legal pyrotechnics is awesome. The only thing that comes close is eating bacon wrapped jalapenos while your hot wife rubs your feet while you watch a John Wayne movie.

Since few things are better than shooting fireworks, especially fireworks you made I want to share with you how I make improvised different improvised pyrotechnic igniters for fireworks and campfires.

The first time I saw electrically initiated fire I was at a Boy Scout program at the state park my father worked as a ranger.  The Scoutmaster set up a couple of igniters in some accelerant and made the campfire ignite remotely.

It was magical to see someone wire a bunch of tiny little wires to a radio receiver and later press a button and cause a huge fire to “whoosh” into existence. From that point I was hooked.

The adults were smart enough to keep me from knowing too many details at the time.  However as I grew up I came to understand I had a fascination with the “whoosh” of making things burn.

These are Not Blasting Caps

This is a pretty cool think to know, its not likely to be missused because this is not a blasting cap.  Consequently, it is not going to help a terrorist make a bomb.  It will, however, make a boy scout at a jamboree happy as the campfire magically lights.

The DIY igniter videos below show several types of electric matches.  I use different systems like Nichrome wire, steel wool, and bits of thin copper wire.  Additionally I use matches and homemade nitrocellulose lacquer (that I extracted from ping pong balls).  Since they are improvised they don’t work quite as well as commercial squibs, but they do work.

Now as a prepper, what I can do with pyro and stay legal is limited. Most homemade fireworks are for entertainment only if you want to stay on the right side of the law, but some skills are transferable, and I am sure that with a little thought a smart person could find a use for these DIY igniters.

Personally I think they would work good with black powder mortars, but I am still fighting with the wife for a cannon for Christmas.

I include videos on testing some of the setups.  You need to be certain they work well before you attach them, because a hooked up igniter that does not ignite on command is dangerous.

If it has a delayed activation that occurs while you are around the pyrotechnics then you can die.  It is not the dying that is bad, its the fact that it will HURT the entire time you are dying.

TEST a few of the igniters in every batch before you use them.

How to Make and Test Improvised Pyrotechnic Igniters

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Especially if the igniters are improvised.  As you can see in the videos, I had a batch batch had a bit of a delay. That was because I used copper wire as an electrical bridge rather than the more effective Nichrome wire.

This means it took longer for the wire to heat and ignite the compound.

Knowing that the igniter has a delay is important,  However, because of it, I would not use this in any type of public display.   An ignitor like this would work better for lighting a fire like I mentioned in the original post.

There are many ways to make these igniters, and any search of a rocketry club will show you how.

Without any more talk here are three videos showing the construction and testing of various styles of improvised pyrotechnic igniters






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