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  1. #1

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    Magnesium flash powder

    Hi,

    I have recently purchased from ebay an Ensign magnesium flash, and would like to use it, but would need to buy magnesium etc....

    Does anybody know who might supply these flash powders, & where I might be able to buy them.

    I am interested only in small amounts to use occaisionally.

    Thanks,

    Marcus

  2. #2
    Michel Hardy-Vallée's Avatar
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    This fella: http://www.largeformatphotography.in...ad.php?t=27227

    is doing daguerreotypes and has pictured himself with a flash powder holder, so you might want to ask him.

    Need I also remind you of all the dangers associated with flash powder? Burns, smoke, lack of standardized products, etc.
    Using film since before it was hip.


    "One of the most singular characters of the hyposulphites, is the property their solutions possess of dissolving muriate of silver and retaining it in considerable quantity in permanent solution" — Sir John Frederick William Herschel, "On the Hyposulphurous Acid and its Compounds." The Edinburgh Philosophical Journal, Vol. 1 (8 Jan. 1819): 8-29. p. 11

    My APUG Portfolio

  3. #3

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    Don't tell Homeland Security.

    Most people simply simulate flash power. The stuff is dangerous. Why do you think they invented flash bulbs?
    When I grow up, I want to be a photographer.

    http://www.walterpcalahan.com/Photography/index.html

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    When I looked into it several years ago, possesion and storage of anything beyond a pretty small amount required an permit for explosives storage and use. I'm guessing U.K. laws are even stricter than in the U.S.

  5. #5

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    You are getting into an area whereby you will attract MUCH undesired attention from 'official sources', if you know what I mean!

    Reminds me of a story about how a fire inspector walked into the shop of Bell and Howell in the 1910's in Chicago and found a room full of machinists, busily milling out 2709 bodies and magazines from big blocks of magnesium; all about hip-deep in shavings. He shut them down instantly...

    Very shortly thereafter, the design was changed to aluminum.

    Needless to say, the magnesium 2709 bodied motion picture camera is a very rare beast...

    God, was that a Grandpa Simpson story or what?

  6. #6
    Ole
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    I have a recipe - but I also have a degree in chemistry, and used to have a demolition certificate (it's expired, not rescinded).

    I wouldn't get anywhere near the stuff, nor will I give out the recipe. I'm sure you could find it on the net, but all you'll get from me is this: Please don't.
    -- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
    Norway

  7. #7
    Steve Smith's Avatar
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    Is there something safer available which does the same thing? I used to use some sort of flash powder for theatrical effects but this was twenty years ago and I can't remember what it was (if I ever knew).


    Steve.
    "People who say things won't work are a dime a dozen. People who figure out how to make things work are worth a fortune" - Dave Rat.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Smith View Post
    Is there something safer available which does the same thing? I used to use some sort of flash powder for theatrical effects but this was twenty years ago and I can't remember what it was (if I ever knew).


    Steve.
    Ah, yes, the good old stage flash powder. I'm pretty sure it's identical. I once worked briefly as a lighting tech, and the ASM wouldn't let me set the flash-boxes myself (it was in panto in the late 60s). Unfortunately he didn't know how to set them (I did): he thought that if one turn of fuse wire was good, several turns would be better. Nor would he let me fire them: he kept control of those switches.

    After the show, when only 2 out of 6 had fired, he went and poked the first of the unfired ones with a screwdriver. He wasn't badly hurt, but he was a bit short on eyebrows and the hair at the front of his head was frizzy and smelled funny.

    Much as I am aware of the dangers of the stuff, I have made it (not in almost 40 years -- around the same time I learned how to make napalm and thermite), and I can't help feeling that like many things of that kind, it's not all that dangerous as long as you remember that if you get it wrong, it's VERY dangerous: a bit like firearms. Our ancestors lived with a lot of things that would be regarded as horrifyingly dangerous today, such as flash powder and for that matter simple gas-taps: we had those when I was a boy. Yes, there were accidents, but there was not the wholesale slaughter that you might expect from reading modern-day warnings.

    Addition: a reminder from the Focal Encyclopedia 1965:

    Commercial flash powders are supplied in double containers. One holds the magnesium powder, the other, the igniting compound...

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Hicks View Post

    After the show, when only 2 out of 6 had fired, he went and poked the first of the unfired ones with a screwdriver. He wasn't badly hurt, but he was a bit short on eyebrows and the hair at the front of his head was frizzy and smelled funny.


    Sounds like poking a sleeping bear with a pointy stick.
    Heavily sedated for your protection.

  10. #10
    Steve Smith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Hicks View Post
    Nor would he let me fire them: he kept control of those switches.
    You had switches? What a luxury!

    We had two nails with a bit of 5 amp fuse wire wrapped between them, wired up to a round pin 15 amp plug. The flash powder was poured over the fuse wire. On cue, you pushed the plug into the socket and off it went. I don't recall any ever failing.

    This was twenty years ago in pantomimes with lots of children on the stage. I don't think we would get away with it now!


    Steve.
    "People who say things won't work are a dime a dozen. People who figure out how to make things work are worth a fortune" - Dave Rat.

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