WARNING AND DISCLAIMER: If you are underage, then consult with your parents or guardians before attempting any of this. You are on your own - I'm not responsible for your actions or harm you may bring to others because of your actions. Making the items described below can result in injury or death to you or people in your vicinity. Some things mentioned here may be illegal to make in your city, county, state, or country so check the laws that apply to you before you attempt anything described here. These notes are not complete on purpose. If you are reading them and new to pyrotechnics, then you are making a mistake. Stop now - this page is not for you. Get a beginning book on fireworks (see Skylighter or American Fireworks News (very quick shipping) for a start) and read up. You can't make any of this work without more information so read up or join a club or ask someone to help you.
Reserve about two hours total for the tasks below
A stick of five strand black match. Notice it is stiff, full of BP and relatively small. Read below to see how to make it! (click on the image above to see it burn)
Black match is fuse. It can be homemade fuse and it is used in many, many pyro applications. It can be used for cross matching (essentially priming a time fuse) or to directly light pyro devices safely. It can be encased in a paper tube and it then turns into quick match - lightning fast fuse! Here is how to make black match - this was taken from an overly long post on rec.pyrotechnics and on the UK Rocketry website (both posts by me - LK)
I've always been surprised at the number of ways to make black match. Here is my way (some of which was lifted straight out of Perigrin and some of which I do because I'm lazy):
For the following, be safe - don't do this indoors or when others are around (except for the assistant part explained below). The equipment and general safety rules are a subset of those specified for making BP using the CIA method. A spilled boiling solution of KNO3 could ruin your whole day so please be careful.
In the following paragraph, soaking the string in KNO3 is outlined and recommended. However, some have postulated that soaking the string inKNO3 is not necessary - that adequate black match can be made by just running string through the hot black powder solution that is described two paragraphs below this. In any case, you will need to get some small diameter cotton string - and the best place I've found is Wal-Mart or a crochet shop. Use all cotton - not a blend or artificial fiber.
Boil 200 or 300 ml of water (or a bit more). Saturate it with KNO3 (same as for CIA). Soak three or four balls of string in it (all cotton - crochet string available in Walmart - 1/2 mm or so thickness) and set them out to dry (or dehydrate in your cabinet/whatever). They take about three days to dry. After soaking three or four balls of string, you will have enough string to do a zillion feet of blackmatch and you probably did it in less than 10 minutes. In addition, you won't have to do this step for the next few years of matchmaking. Bonus spin-offs from this (besides making more reliable burning blackmatch) are that your blackmatch slurry lasts longer and the KNO3 doesn't leech out of it into the string - thus the last string to come through the slurry will be similar in properties to the first pieces that went through it.
The string will be stiff and have KNO3 crystals on it so store the string like you would any flammable (keep it in its balled state, though). Don't worry about bending it or twisting it - you will re-wet it when it comes to blackmatch making time. I have a simple tub that I make blackmatch with and the KNO3 string still threads through it and works fine.
Get some reasonably hot BP (any BP will work - I likes it hot). Make a warm solution of the BP with some hot water. The solution should be a thick gravy or perhaps a bit thinner. Start with 175 ml of hot water and 500 grams of BP. If that seems thick, then add a bit more water. Add about 5% dextrin (I have forgotten this on occasion - it still works but it is much better with the dextrin).
Put the mixture in the bottom of a small cooler (really small one - the throwaway type).
Now here is where you can get complicated or get easy. I like to make it easy. Put on some rubber gloves. Take the cooler to your front sidewalk (assuming you live in a friendly neighborhood). Have your significant other stand 100 feet down the street. Take a ball of string and run a string trail down to him and back again until you have five trails. Grab the hank of five threads and, keeping them together as best you can, run them between your fingers while your hand is buried in the muck - using your hand to strip off the excess as the string plays through. Do it slowly. Hand off the black match to your significant other (make sure she has gloves on, too). Done? Walk the 100' hank of match over to a fence and drape it on it. Keep doing this until you get tired. Let the whole mess dry. You have now made premium black match that will not hang fire and will pass through small openings with ease. In addition, the cotton thread will burn completely - there will be little residue. You have also tested your significant other's patience - it will have ruined whatever he/it/she is wearing because she/he/it will undoubtedly get hot BP splattered pants. In addition, if you have a white picket fence, it is now a Dalmatian picket fence. But sacrifices are necessary when the cause is just... right?
Store your black match in shipping tubes or other long containers - I hang mine in one of those USPS triangular shipping cartons. Don't bend it or kink it unnecessarily.
For FAST black match
Sometimes we need some fast black match that will take and give fire more easily than the standard stuff. Do not consider this match unless you know you need something special. For almost all purposes, the match at the beginning of this page is the proper stuff to use.
Click on the above picture to see this black match burn
1. Make or purchase some 25% nitrocellulose lacquer. This can be made by dissolving double or single base smokeless powder in acetone. Pure NC lacquer can also be purchased.
2. Get about 4 feet of black match and separate out the individual threads. Four foot threads are about the easiest to manage with this method.
3. Get a small quantity of very good mill dust BP. 100 grams will make 50 or 60 feet of this black match. It is handy to have this in a baggie.
4. Combine 15 grams of BP with about 15 grams of NC lacquer. Stir until combined. Use a small container like a film can.
5. Add acetone to the above mix until you get the consistency of latex paint.
6. Feed in a black match thread until it is covered in the solution.
7. Strip it back out by drawing through a hole in the cap of the container or just drawing it through your fingers.
8. Drop the wetted string into the remaining mill dust and swirl it around until it is well covered.
10 Repeat steps 6 through 9 until the mix needs to be replenished and then top it up with equal parts of BP and NC - using acetone to dilute as necessary.