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Topic: Storing Flash Paper & Cotton
Message: Posted by: Lou Hilario (Jan 29, 2008 05:17PM)
What is the best way to store flash paper or cotton to prolong its shelf life? Should it be dampened? Can it be stored in the refrigerator?
Message: Posted by: randirain (Jan 29, 2008 09:35PM)
For saftey reasons, it's best to be wet.
But getting it wet or sticking it the fridge isn't going to hurt it.

The way I store it is just sticking it in my drawer.
Just don't keep it near something warm or in the sun and you will be fine.

Message: Posted by: Lou Hilario (Jun 28, 2010 07:40PM)
I just purchased about a kilo of Flash Cotton last week. I hope it lasts for a year. How do I store this safely? I am thinking of the fridge. Does anyone here store them in the fridge? If I add water, what type of water?
Message: Posted by: Kune (Jun 28, 2010 11:49PM)
I assume any water should work, but if you want to be extra safe, distilled water would presumably be best, since that way once it's dried out again, there hasn't been anything extra added that may interfere with the burning. (Although honestly I'd think tapwater should be fine).
Message: Posted by: marknem7 (Jun 29, 2010 03:35PM)
Also, is it better to soak it or just sprinkle it on?

I also wonder whether flash cotton has a significantly shorter shelf life than say, flash paper.
Message: Posted by: drjeb (Jul 5, 2010 05:45PM)
I have been a professional chemist for over fifty years and have had extensive experience with pyrotechnics. For fifteen years I regularly did a chemical magic show for colleges and universities as a PR activity to attract students into
studying chemistry so it utilised a considerable number of spectacular effects, most of which cannot be performed today.
The idea of storing a kilogram of flash cotton in one container boggles the mind.
I worry that anyone who would be so IRresponsible as to sell anyone a kilo of the stuff to anyone, never mind someone who is so obviously totally ignorant of its properties as the the writer is, is almost certainly careless enough about his chemistry techniques tha his product is an unstable one.
The most common error leading to instability is a failure to wash the
cotton after nitration to remove ALL the acid. To check for this one should
take a sample ,asa a ball the size of a grape and soak it in about 50 mls of water in a clean glass and then test the liquid for acidity. This can be done with litmus paper(blue changes to red in presence of acid) or better PH strips.
Also if the wet cotton has a smell of any kind it means it should not be stored. I know from experience that if any acid vapors are present they will in time eat away at most normally safe containers and will over time damage anything in their vicinIty. At the same time the cotton will lose its fast burning power anyway.
Keeping a kilo of nitrated cotton uniformly damp is a mammoth task and getting it to dry out for use is a very dangerous procedure. One cannot let any part of the sample rise above its own ignition point otherwise the whole thing will ignite.
I found that the only way this can be done is by using a specially designed oven
with very careful temperature control. FOr example the average kitchen oven with the door open WILL NOT WORK.
If you are so foolish enough to keep it you must keep it in small containers and test a random sample for decomposition at least every six weeks. Also check on your building insurance concerning coverage for storing dangerous chemicals
I can only hope your letter was some sort of misplaced twisted attempt at humour
Message: Posted by: Munseys_Magic (Aug 15, 2010 10:16AM)
Hi everybody,

I usually store my flash paper in a ziplock bag in the dark and in a cool (room temp) environment. The other day I went to get some and all of the paper had turned brown, smelled AWFUL, and it actually caused a chemical burn through the palstic bag and ruined the exterior of a luggage bag that it was sitting on. Somebody has since told me that locking it in an airtight bag is a bad idea because it can cause the paper to "sweat" and create a chemical burn.

Two questions:

1_I was advised to store it in a PAPER bag so it can breathe. Has enybody else stored it this way?

3) Also, I know it's shipped damp. A lot of people here are saying to keep it damp. That sounds like sound advice, but how do you do that? How do you maintain the "dampness" or replenish the "dampness?" Lightly spray each piece with a water bottle? Do you store it folded (as it's shipped)?

Any and all help would be appreciated!


Jim Munsey
Munsey's Magic
Message: Posted by: Munseys_Magic (Aug 15, 2010 10:17AM)
Sorry - That shold have been "1)" followed by "2)." Silly, silly me!
Message: Posted by: Powermagic (Aug 15, 2010 10:34PM)
First off I will say the US made paper can be very good and is usually FIXED properly. However I have gotten some over the years that have been stored WET and then gone all acid smelly, gone brittle, or molded.
I find if I buy in small batches and store DRY, I do not have these issues.

Since most of you will not be able to buy in bulk to get a discount, I say just buy it as you need it and thus always have a fresh batch.

As to the SPECIAL oven comment, I do not see a need. I have air dried safely, I have IRONED it, I have run it through printers, I have used a warm oven.
I forget what the ignition point is but as long as you do not go over that it will not burn unless unstable.

That being said, when trying to dry out 100 sheets of stuff going bad, I forgot I left the oven on to warm up and instead I lost all in one big WOOSH. My fault for not preheating to luke warm instead I was set too high.
It had nothing to do with it being a house old oven. It will dry it just fine.

However why bother, be prepared and take a sheet out the day before and dry it via air.
Message: Posted by: PyroTechno (Feb 5, 2011 11:17AM)
I don't know about flash cotton, because it's much much easier to ignite than flash paper. But I can tell you I've had flash paper stored dry in an envelope tucked inside a book on a bookshelf for a very long time with no issues. It still works perfectly, there's no discoloration, no funky smell, no mold, burns away just like the day it was purchased.
Message: Posted by: FuManChu (Feb 13, 2011 04:42PM)
***, this thread reminds me that I have somewhere a packet of selfmade flash cotton lying around. Must check that out.
This stuff tends to selfdestruction (when not properly made especially when not all of the acid was removed and if it is "warm" enough.
Message: Posted by: dove-boy (Mar 3, 2011 02:14PM)
In my personal view, the BEST method to store flash paper, cotton, string.....lighter fluid is a FIRE BLANKET! :)


This can be bought anywhere....I bought mine like a bath towel size..this can be purchased in any sizes & shape.

This is the SAFEST cos the fire blanket suppose to put out fire...& with all the flash content wrap up in this towel...is 200% safe...forget about ziplog bag, plastic container, envelope...this material are not foolproof to fire.

I dump all my flash products all DRY (cannot keep them wet/damp cos they will rot away with time or change colour, any flash products must be dry 100% after you receive them), lighter fluid...any thing that will catches fire all into this fire blanket & wrap them togther...problem solved! :)

Like Pyrotechno mentioned, with this fire blanket-all your dry flash products will work perfectly, no discoloration, no funky smell, no mold, burns away just like the day it was purchased :)

Hope this helps :)
Message: Posted by: Drosselmeyer (Nov 21, 2011 07:28AM)
My supplier recommends storing in a metal container with tight lid OUTDOORS!
Message: Posted by: Susan Fan (Feb 14, 2012 03:30AM)
Our company produce flash paper and flash cotton, we give suggestion to our clients ,they should put the in somewhere cold and wet, refrigerator is the best place to store flash produocts. http://www.redcornermagic.com
Message: Posted by: greorowicz (Jul 15, 2012 10:19PM)
I work as a clown and doing a magic show is part of my entertainment. I ordered flash paper from China in bulk - large sheets that I cut up. I stored my magic paper in plastic bags and in a plastic box. the weather has been in the mid 90's. I have not been using the window air conditoner, just a fan in the window. I kept my candy that was part of my magic show in the same large plastic box with lid on - under the bed. today I had a party and used the candy and the flash paper in my magic show. the flash paper didn,t work right. it had a burnt smell to it and the flame was hardly visible to my audience. I was using a dove pan. when I got home I smelled the individual baggies of my flash paper. It had a strong chemical smell! and my candy was destroyed. the wrappers of the candies had deteriated, (falling apart.) I am worried about the children and if they ate any of the candy. also, is there a way to salvage the flash paper? I never knew until I came across your site that there was a proper protocol in storing flash paper.
Message: Posted by: Curt_is_Magic (Nov 25, 2014 03:47PM)
I simply keep mine in a metal cookie tin, such as this one:
Message: Posted by: MagicDan3333 (Jun 12, 2015 09:12AM)
Forget the magician's name, but not too long ago a magician had flash paper explode in his vehicle and I believe he was seriously injured.
Message: Posted by: Matti Kaki (Jun 16, 2015 08:04AM)
I just received 25 sheets (140 grams) of Flash Paper from China. It was in thin plastic bag and posted just in an envelope. The paper was not wet at all. I feel me quite upset because there was no precautions whatsoever. The question: How do I store it? A tiny piece crushed ignited truly fast so I feel me slightly jumpy.
Message: Posted by: Jaqk Clemente (Oct 9, 2015 01:31AM)
Hello, what's the safest and most practical way to store flash paper then? as I can see in the thread there are two ways:

1)dry and not on a plastic bag.

2)wet ad in a plastic bag (maybe also fridge).
Message: Posted by: Harrismatic (Oct 26, 2015 12:18PM)
The most important thing to do when storing flash paper is to avoid keeping it all the time without fresh air. The common fear of having a spark damaging all the stuff is not of much importance as I can not see any way to have a single spark igniting your flash stuff except from the case you catch a fire , in which you will have more important things to care.

I have lost a bunch of stuff just by not letting it air well. I do not know it if self ignites or it somehow "melts" but in one case it tooks only some hours of traveling to have my flash stuff held in a ziplockbag in my suitcase totally destroyed.

Placing it in the fridge is not a good idea as it is toxic and I suppose it will make toxic fummes affecting your food. Also by the time they arrived dry, it means that the complete water in which they were soaked was evaporated. If you soak them again maybe they will burn slower as the water will remove more nitrocellulose from them.
Message: Posted by: Delimbeau (Dec 24, 2016 09:12AM)
It did not feel good anymore to keep the flash paper in my library. I've decided to get rid of my stack and only buy it when I need it (which is not often in my case :-)). Luc.
Message: Posted by: Trace3k (Jan 23, 2017 11:47PM)
I just received flash paper in the mail. What is the consensus on wet or dry? There is a lot of conflicting information on the Magic Café re: how to store flash products.
Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (Apr 3, 2017 04:16AM)
It all depends how long before you use the supply up, if you it will be a year or more, then do as the above suggest.

If you are going to use it regularly, then keep it in a tight sealing tin can, some of the ones that have holiday cookies work well. The main thing is to store in a dark, none heated place where sunlight and air will not get to the paper. Away from any heat source.
Message: Posted by: MudMedic (Sep 26, 2017 11:58AM)
40/40 rule is applied when I store flash paper...40 grams max per packet/maximum 40 degrees celsius...
Message: Posted by: hawkbird (Dec 12, 2020 01:08AM)
Never store around any batteries! Or remotes, lasers, anything with a battery in it!