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What is Aluminum Powder?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated May 17, 2024
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Aluminum powder is a highly flammable powder created by grinding aluminum into fine grains. In times past, this flammable metal powder was used in photography to create bright flashes during a photographic session. Today, it's one of the tools used in various applications of pyrotechnics, including the creation of fireworks displays.

Because of the combustible nature of powder aluminum products, there are a number of restrictions on its sale. In some countries, the powder is only available for purchase to businesses. Even in nations where it can still be purchased by individuals, it is not unusual for producers to only sell the powder to suppliers, who then sell small lots of it to residential customers.

While the use of aluminum powder as flash powder is the most readily recognized function of the compound, it can also be employed in the creation of wooden furniture and floors. Used primarily as an inlay compound, it can easily be used to set cut pieces of wood into position and also fill in any tiny gaps that may be present at the joints. Since only a minute amount of powder is necessary for functions of this type, the chances of ignition are somewhat limited.

Aluminum powder is best handled by professionals who know how to use the compound under controlled circumstances. Companies that produce fireworks displays for sports and municipal events are one example. When handled properly, the powder not only can produce spectacular visual effects, but also provide the loud booms that often add to the entertainment value of the fireworks display. Pyrotechnic professionals usually wear protective clothing, including gloves and safety goggles, in order to minimize direct exposure to the skin and eyes and also provide a barrier in the event that the powder ignites prematurely.

While vendors using aluminum often take a number of precautions, the highly explosive nature of the powder can lead to accidents in the most controlled environments. Should the powder come into contact with the eyes, they should be flushed immediately and continuously for at least 15 minutes. In the interim, emergency medical assistance should be summoned immediately.

Burns from the powder should also be treated with a continual flow of cold water as a means of cooling them and gently washing away any residue. If the powder is accidentally inhaled, the individual should be moved to fresh air immediately and in extreme situations, oxygen should be administered. In all circumstances, medical attention should be sought as quickly as possible to minimize the chance of any type of permanent damage.

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Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including About Mechanics, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
Discussion Comments
By anon272678 — On Jun 02, 2012

Steve, you rock! You were right about Star Molecule aluminum powder. It's got some serious kick.

By anon133084 — On Dec 09, 2010

I used Star Molecule like two years ago (maybe it was a little longer ago then that)and it was awesome. But they went away, you could not find it anymore. Are they back?

By stevegail — On Nov 26, 2010

I can vouch for the Star Molecule, its an awesome aluminum powder. Very good aluminum powder for pyrotechnics (the best I have used).

Its not very good for custom paints though, or powder coating (at least not the type they have on there, but you could probably email them to see if they have other types?).

By anon129382 — On Nov 23, 2010

There are quite a few good brands I have gotten to test. German Dark (which worked well), some of the Eckart brands (a little over-rated), and Star Molecule (which was the hottest burning, most reactive one, and it's also military grade).

I tried making my own, in the end it worked, but no where near as well as the normal powders, and it literally destroyed a grinder (it has to run for a long time).

Great article though. Try the Star Molecule Aluminum Powder. Insane.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
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