Rocket Science Institute

Pyrotechnics & Explosives Safety

Your first resource for unusual, hard-to-find, out-of-print, and historic information
about rockets, missiles, propulsion, space, pyrotechnics, and explosives safety

Rocket science made (more) simple.


Updated & New Books Listed:  17 February 2013

A Safety Manual for Experimental and Amateur Rocket Scientists:  Solid Propellant Engineering Series, Vol 1.  Edward Jones, Ph.D.  Third edition.  Las Vegas: Rocket Science Books, 2005.  Our best seller for several years, and a must for experimenters.  Covers making and handling propellants, pyrotechnics, explosives. This book could save your life!  91 pages.  ISBN 1-878628-00-3.  Book reviewed here.  $19.95.  

U.S. Department of Energy Explosives Safety Manual.  University of California Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, May 2001.  The official Safety Manualfrom the people who design, build, and test the world's largest bombs.  Published to provide personnel at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (who, along with Los Alamos and Sandia National Labs, are responsible for nuclear and thermonuclear weapons) with one reference that answers every question.  It is intended for both DOE and contractors involved with the development, testing, handling, and processing of explosives or assemblies containing explosives.  It reflects the state-of-the-art in explosives safety, and tells exactly how the nation's weapons makers minimize the risk of death or serious injury in explosives operations.  155 pages, $24.95.  

U.S. Department of Defense Contractors' Safety Manual for Ammunition and Explosives.  Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Technology, September 1997.   The official document of safety standards used by all Department of Defense operations and facilities, and by all private industry contractors.  The basis for all government defense contracts involving rocket propellants, explosives, and ammunition.  Covers training programs and operation procedures to prevent ammunition, propellant, and explosives mishaps.  Explains in detail how mishap investigations are conducted.  Complete information about storage buildings and handling equipment, operational shields and protective clothing, with many details about conductive footwear ("grounders").  Covers liquid rocket propellant safety, including safety on range launch pads, static test stands, ready storage areas, cold-flow test operations, bulk storage areas, pipelines, and so forth.  222 pages, $24.95.  

The Chemistry of Powder and Explosives.  Tenney L. Davis, Ph.D., Emeritus Professor of Organic Chemistry, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Director of Research and Development, National Fireworks, Inc.  March, 1943.  500 pages, hardbound.  In a word, invaluable.  This remains a fundamental textbook on the subject, and is an appropriate introductory overview that includes one of the best available studies of black powder.  All of the low, high, and initiating explosives are discussed in great depth.  Having stood the test of time, Davis appears to be a reliable source of accurate information.  $24.95.

Encyclopedia of Explosives and Related Items (Volumes 1 and 2).  Basil T. Fedoroff, Henry A. Aaronson, Early F. Reese, Oliver E. Sheffield & George D. Clift; U.S. Army Research and Development Command, Picatinny Arsenal.  The most complete, comprehensive, and thorough reference textbook ever written on explosives, propellants, pyrotechnics, and ammunition.   No other work on explosives published after this Encyclopedia even comes close to the level of information it contains.  A "must have" for explosive engineers, pyrotechnists, chemists, law enforcement officers, safety experts, and explosives manufacturers.  Includes most of the military weapon systems of the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, with detailed material on historical terms, scientists, chemical weapons, analytical procedures, precursors, chemistry, synthesis, manufacture, physical and explosive properties, handling, and other academic citations of interest to scientists.  Originally published in ten volumes, and these are the first two of those ten.  1,438 pages, 10 pounds, $99.95.  

Nitro-Explosives: A Practical Treatise Concerning the Properties, Manufacture, and Analysis of Nitrated Substances, Including the Fulminates, Smokeless Powders, and Celluloid.  P. Gerald Sanford, F.I.C., F.C.S.  The masterpiece British treatise on explosives: an authoritative, complete, and comprehensive technical reference resource for the professional pyrotechnician, explosives engineer, and propellant scientist.  For 98 years, this classic volume has served as the most important single textbook, operating handbook, laboratory manual, and technical reference on the subject of explosives chemistry, engineering, manufacture, testing, handling, and storage.  Explains in fine detail how each of dozens of dynamite compositions are formulated and mixed, including both those with inert and active bases.  Also reviews the various properties (velocities, pressures, etc) of smokeless and sporting powders in sundry rifles and cannons, and naval guns.  Fully describes how to make (among other items useful for magic tricks and indoor pyrotechnics experiment) guncotton and flashpaper; nitro-starches, nitro-jute, nitro-mannite, and other exotic types, on both a small- and large-scale basis.  Analytical lab tests are given (with descriptions and illustrations of the classic labware setups) for dynamite, nitroglycerin, gelatin compounds, nitrocellulose, Tonite, Cordite, celluloid, picric acid and picrates, fulminates, blasting cap compositions, nitro-cotton and other nitrated celluloses, determination of nitrogen content with various apparatus and procedures, etc.  330 pages, including more than 60 highly-detailed engineering illustrations, and a comprehensive index.  ISBN 1-878628-41-0.  $29.95.  

Explosives and Demolitions.  U.S. Army Engineer Center and Schools.  Learn to calculate explosives for timber-cutting, steel-cutting, breaching, and cratering charges.  Provides detailed instructions for working with TNT, C-4 (C4; M112), M118 sheet explosives, dynamite, and ammonium nitrate cratering charges.  Explains use of 1/4-lb, 1/2-lb, and 1-lb blocks of TNT; sticks of dynamite.Has demolition formulas, and breaching tables;includes administrative, grading, and certification instructions; practice exercises, answer keys, and feedback; final examination.  77 pages, $19.95. 

NASA Safety Standard for Explosives, Propellants, and Pyrotechnics.  NASA Office of Safety and Mission Assurance.  Policy and safety requirements which define the NASA safety program.  Addresses explosives safety and health aspects of working with these materials.  The manual contains all of NASA's minimum safety requirements for handling and processing explosives, propellants, and pyrotechnics.  Provides procedures  for operations involving explosives, propellants, and pyrotechnics, and the safe management of such operations.  Includes fire symbols, storage compatibility mixing chart, classification system, and 11 quantity-distance tables, plus appendices of definitions, acronyms, and references.  148 pages, $24.95. 

NASA Pyrotechnic Design and Development Manual.  Laurence J. Bement, NASA Langley Research Center, and Morry L. Schimmel, Schimmel Company.  A comprehensive and complete reference for pyrotechnic, propellant, and explosive materials; initiation systems and initiators; pyro actuators, valves, separation units, separation ("explosive") bolts, cutters and guillotines; flexible linear shaped charges; shielded mild detonating cord; bridgewires and cartridges; including test methods, reliability data, and pyrotechnic system safety.  One of today's most widely used textbook on the subject, with more material (and far more detail) than any other text we know of, with details about virtually every kind of modern rocket and missile igniter and pyrotechnic actuating device.  76 pages, $19.95.  

A Method for Sizing Booster Charges in Pyrotechnic Mechanisms.  Laurence J. Bement, NASA Langley Research Center.  An in-depth report on sizing booster charges to assure functional margins in pyrotechnically actuated devices, with useful data and information for anyone working with pyro-actuated devices.  The text describes test hardware in great detail, along with fine engineering drawings.  The cartridge and booster charges used are described as well.  Experimental and analytical procedures are discussed, as well as discussions of the various tests and data analysis.  12 pages, $9.95.  

Thermochemistry for Magnesium/Teflon/Viton Pyrotechnic Compositions.  Farid C. Christo, Weapons Systems Division, Aeronautical and Maritime Research Laboratory (Australia).  A comprehensive and complete reference for advanced pyrotechnic materials based on the most useful magnesium/Teflon/Viton [MTV] compositions.  MTV mixtures are commonly used in modern rocket igniters; initiation systems and initiators; pyro actuators; tracking and illumination flares; and separation units.  Covers the chemistry of this important formulation, including test methods.  It is one of today's most widely used reference resources on the subject, with more material (and far more detail) than any other text we know of.  42 pages, $19.95.  

NASA Safety Manual for Explosives, Propellants, and Pyrotechnics.  NASA Glenn Research Center, 2005.  A concise reference handbook that provides the minimum requirements, both for Government and contractor personnel, for the safe use, handling, and control of explosives at the NASA Glenn Research Center.  The document provides directives for protecting personnel and property involved in explosive operations at all levels from the hazards of explosives and explosive materials (including solid and liquid propellants, oxidizers, pyrotechnic materials, and electro-explosive devices).  Provides key information for training and certification, supervisor responsibilities, hazard assessments, placards and warning signs, and color coding.  Explains how to use the "two-person buddy system" when handling explosives.  Covers laboratory and experimental operations, range launch pads, static test stands, cold-flow test operations, pipelines, and bulk storage.  28 pages, softbound, $14.95.  

Pyrotechnics Civil and Military.  George Washington Weingart, 1943.  The all-time classic fireworks text, and for more than 50 years the best-selling book on how to make fireworks--firecrackers, Roman candles, skyrockets, pinwheels, colored torches and smokes--hundreds of designs are described in detail.  Covers tools and techniques of manufacture, plus hundreds of formulations using common industrial chemicals.  Loaded with composition formulae and detailed instructions, drawings, and diagrams for learning the "how-tos" of time-honored tools and technology.  Exhaustive sections on ingredients, "manipulation," products of manufacture and formulas, exhibition fireworks, miscellaneous, glossary, and book references.  The fireworks mixtures in this book are mostly made with common ingredients available most everywhere: potassium nitrate (saltpeter), charcoal, sulfur, metal filings, and the like.  Hard to find.  240 pages, softbound, $19.95. 

Dictionary and Manual of Fireworks.  George Washington Weingart, 1937.  "A complete manual covering the author's work and experiments from 1890 to 1935."  A quality reprint of the rare second published edition of the all-time classic fireworks text.  From the beginning, Weingart's books have been loaded with composition formulae and detailed instructions, drawings, and diagrams (and they remain a solid foundation for learning the "how-tos" of time-honored tools and technology.  Exhaustive sections on ingredients, "manipulation," products of manufacture and formulas, exhibition fireworks, miscellaneous, glossary, and book references.  The fireworks mixtures in this book are mostly made with common ingredients available most everywhere: potassium nitrate (saltpeter), charcoal, sulfur, metal filings, and the like.   Very hard to find.  177 pages, softbound, $24.95. 

Full-Color Edition of this book, $34.95. 

Dictionary of Pyrotechnics.  George Washington Weingart, 1930.  "A complete manual covering the author's work and experiments from 1890 to 1930."  A quality reprint of the very first published edition of the all-time classic fireworks textbook.  While he calls it a "dictionary," it's actually a how-to manual and formulary par excellance.  Very hard to find.  155 pages, softbound, $24.95.  

A System of Pyrotechny (All 4 volumes, bound into two books).  George Cutbush, A.S. U.S.A.   (1788-1823)  One of the most important pyrotechnic works of the 19th Century -- a landmark in the history of pyrotechny and the first major American contribution to the literature of fireworks.  Very big, very thick, very heavy, dense with information about every aspect of the art and craft.  665 pages, bound in two volumes,  $79.95. Special limited time offer, $59.95.  

The Art of Pyrotechny.  W. H. Browne, PhD.  "Comprehensive and Practical Instructions for the Manufacture of Fireworks, Specially Designed for the Use of the Amateur," from the best English pyrotechnist of the late 1800s.   A high-quality reprint of his master work (originally published in London in 1873), this remains a valuable and very useful guide to making professional-quality fireworks, "from scratch," with very simple ingredients.  Considerable details about making skyrockets, roman candles, aerial display shells, and display fireworks of all descriptions. More than 160 fine-quality engravings illustrate every item and process plus more than 100 pyrotechnics composition formulae.  Very hard to find.  148 pages, softbound, $24.95.

How To Make Chinese Firecrackers. Tenney L. Davis, PhD, and George Washington Weingart.  In the early 1940s, two great American pyrotechnists studied how the Orientals made these delightful fireworks, and documented the process.  Their detailed descriptions of making Chinese fireworks--the most detailed and complete that we've seen--are both reprinted in this unique book.  The first part is by Dr. Tenney L. Davis, who was the director of research and development at National Fireworks, Inc. (as well as emeritus professor of organic chemistry of Massachusetts Institute of Technology).  It's a detailed description of the Chinese firecracker crafting process, start to finish.  This excellent text includes eight (not very good) photos, along with several classic “flash cracker” compositions.  Mr. Ip Lan Chuen, manager of the Kwong Man Loong Fireworks Company (Hong Kong), gave the American pyrotechnist George Washington Weingart detailed instructions on exactly how Chinese firecrackers are fashioned.  His account is also reprinted here.  8.5 x 5.5-inches, softcover and nicely bound, 16 pages.  $14.95  

Military Pyrotechnics.  US War Department Technical Manual TM 9-1981.  Rare 1943 edition, with abundant technical information regarding the properties, care, and use of aerial and ground flares, parachute illumninants, photoflash bombs, colored smokes, signals, and dozens of related items.  More than 100 kinds of flares, bombs, signals, shells, and smoke grenades are described in great detail.  There's also information about chlorates and nitrates; magnesium and aluminum; barium, copper and strontium salts; and binding and waterproofing agents such as asphalt and paraffin; and "first-fire compositions" for ignition.  Hard to find.  72 pages, $19.95.

Aircraft Armament and Pyrotechnics.  US War Department Technical Manual TM 1-409.  Rare 1941 edition, with abundant technical information regarding describing technical information regarding ammunition, explosives, pyrotechnics, aircraft cameras, Air Corps chemical weapons, bombs, fuzes, and related items.  A highly-detailed document, loaded with hard-to-find information.  Hard to find.  124 pages, $19.95. 

Du Pont Blasters' Handbook.  E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. 

Solid Rocket Motor Igniters.  Aerojet-General, Thiokol, Hercules, Rocketdyne, United Technology, and NASA Lewis Research Center.  The official NASA igniter design guide, full of once highly-secret formulations, scientific data, rocketry information, and military missile lore, providing data on all types of rocket and missile igniter systems.  This is the most complete and comprehensive book ever written about the theoretical and practical engineering design of igniters and ignition systems for solid propellant rocket engines.  Covers every topic related to solid rocket motor ignition, with accurate information for the professional (and “amateur”) rocket scientist, engineer, technician, and experimenter, with detailed chemical formulations and characteristics, for black powder, pistol powder, boron/potassium nitrate (B-KNO3), Alclo, Mg/Teflon, double-base smokeless, and composite (ammonium perchlorate) pyrotechnic and propellant formulations.  The book discusses compositions used in Polaris, Phoenix, Sidewinder, and many other rockets and missiles.  114 pages, ISBN 1-878628-18-6.  $24.95.  

High Explosives and Propellants.  Stanley Fordham, Nobel's Explosives Company, Ltd.  An authoritative, complete, and comprehensive technical reference resource for the professional pyrotechnician, explosives engineer, and propellant scientist.  Provides detailed data and statistics for explosive densities, energies, streaming velocity, velocity of detonation, detonation pressure, and the variation of velocity of detonation with cartridge diameter.  The book has abundant theoretical and mathematical explanations about the nature of detonation, shock waves, structure of detonation waves, shape of detonation wave head, properties of explosives compounds, and related topics in physics.  The chemistry and manufacture of explosives is also explained in great detail, and many formulae and equations are provided, with details about all kinds of modern explosives and propellants.  One of the few we have seen that describes the commercial manufacture of ammonium nitrate.  There is also a comprehensive section on the complexities of making nitrocellulose (guncotton).  A chapter is devoted to detonators (blasting caps), discussing safety, stability on storage, certainty of ignition, initiating power, construction, manufacture, testing, etc.  Another chapter is about electric detonators, describing bridgewires, lead wires, fuseheads, fusehead combs, assembly, firing characteristics, etc.  Delay detonators have a chapter of their own, showing construction details, delay compositions, plus assembly and design details.  215 pages, $29.95.  

Impact Firecrackers.  A complete and comprehensive book about making explosive globe torpedoes, cap torpedoes, cane torpedoes, clay torpedoes, exploding cracker balls, auto tire blow-out simulators, and exploding blow-gun darts.  Describes the dangerous processes of making highly sensitive throw-them-on-the-ground-and-they'll-explode type fireworks.  Also includes complete, detailed descriptions of the chemicals used, including information on their sources and preparation for mixing.  Includes obscure and esoteric information from several very old books and patents.  You won't find these formulae or compositions in most modern books.  33 pages, $19.95. 

Collection of Twelve Pyrotechnic Igniters Technical Papers.  A collection of various important documents, all on rocket ignition, igniters, and pyrogens.  115 pages, $24.95.  

"Buy It Now" and PayPal today, and we'll ship tomorrow !

We ship worldwide and charge only actual postal costs: combine several books into one shipment to save!

Priority Mail Postage US $5.05          Global Priority Mail (Canada / Mexico) US$19.95        Global Priority Mail International US$23.95

Insurance (optional and recommended):  $1.95 (USA)          $2.45 (Canada)          $4.85 (everywhere else)

Global Express Mail, Media Rate (USA), and Surface Mail (worldwide) are also available. 

For details about how to order a book, click here.


Other books categories:

General Rocket Science & Engineering

Solid Propellant Engineering

Solid Propulsion Rocket Systems Design

Liquid Propellant Engineering

Liquid Propulsion Rocket Systems Design

Pyrotechnics & Explosives Safety

Rocket Propulsion History & Heritage

Microjet Propulsion

Other Books of Interest