Do-It-Yourself Fireworks (Safely)

Friday, July 03, 2009

This weekend, many of us will be enjoying fireworks as we celebrate the Fourth of July —from the safety of a public park with professionals handling all those explosives. But our guest Bill Gurstelle believes that the best fireworks are the ones you make at home. He's the author of Absinthe & Flamethrowers: Projects and Ruminations on the Art of Living Dangerously and Backyard Ballistics: Build Potato Cannons, Paper Match Rockets, Cincinnati Fire Kites, Tennis Ball Mortars, and More Dynamite Devices.


William Gurstelle


Jesse Baker and Jen Poyant

Comments [3]


The book Absinthe and Flamethrowers does not encourage eight year old boys (or anyone else for that matter) to irresponsibly experiment with powerful oxidizers and dangerous chemicals. Quite the opposite in fact.

Absinthe and Flamethrowers promotes sensible risk taking from the point of view that through preparation and knowledge leads to good outcomes.

Mr. Johnston may want to actually read the book before condemning it.

Jul. 04 2009 04:02 AM
Richard Johnston

When I was 8 years old I used to hang around with my best buddy Jay. One day he was playing around in his garage with potassium permanganate, sulfur and some other stuff and he blew his hand off. He might not have been destined to be another Pierre Curie, Thomas A. Edison, James Watson or Francis Crick, but his life would have been a lot better with 2 hands.

Never mind that there is no evidence whatsoever that engaging in dangerous activitity as a child in any way encourages or promotes creativity in later life, there are hundreds of thousands of mained and mutilated people whose lives were ruined or vastly altered by childhood accidents they regret the rest of their lives. More power to the lawyers and legislators who write the rules, and the consumer advocates who demand rounded corners. This book is utterly irresponsible.

Jul. 03 2009 09:13 AM

Growing up in the 60's in the Bronx on the 4th of July, smart car owners knew to park off the block once the sun went down. A spectacular homemade pyrotechnic known as "doin 'the Brillo" was part of the show in the streets we all enjoyed. To do the brillo, you unwound a wire clothes hanger , fixed a pad of steel wool on the hooked end, soaked it with lighter fluid, light it up, spin it wildly and enjoy the bright orange sparks of molten metal flying in all directions. Simple, fun to watch, and in retrospect, dangerous.

Jul. 03 2009 08:54 AM

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