Firecrackers are only one facet of making fireworks. They are the simplest of all the pyrotechnic devices. Their history goes back over a thousand years, and they were originally used by the Chinese to drive away evil spirits. Firecrackers are easy to make, and are effective noise makers.
The first thing to be made is the case of the firecracker, which is from newspaper glued with a cement of flour paste. This is usually made from rice flour, but any flour can be substituted. A layer of flour paste is applied to one side of a sheet of newspaper that is then rolled around a thin greased mandrel about a 16th of an inch in diameter forming a tube about ten turns thick that is set aside to dry after the mandrel has been carefully removed. Great care must to be taken that the tube is not crushed during this process. The tubes are cut into lengths once dry of about an inch and a half long. One end of the tube is crimped shut with a peg sticking up about 1/8 of an inch above a flat board. The tubes are not quite dry for this process. The peg used is slightly smaller in diameter then the case.
The crimped tubes are set aside until completely dry. They are stood on end with the open end up, and tied into a bundle shaped like an octagon. This requires a bundle of at least 500 crackers or more. A smaller amount can be used, but it is harder to handle as the fire crackers have to be individually loaded with powder.
After you have made a quantity of tubes it is time to make the powder. The simplest is black powder that is compounded from potassium nitrate (KNo3), charcoal (C), and sulfur (S). The simplest powder is 75% KNO3, 30% C, and 20% S. A more modern powder is made from KNo3, and magnesium powder (Mg); 70% KNo3 and 30% Mg. The ingredients of black powder are dampened before mixing. This is accomplished using a ceramic mortar and pestle. When the powder is almost dry it is broken carefully up into a fine powder being careful not to cause any sparks in the process. The powder is then poured onto the octagon of upright tubes thereby loading them almost to the top. They are then ready for the fuses to be inserted into the tops of the tubes.
The fuse is made of a strip of thin paper about an inch wide like tissue paper that has been wet with thin flour glue, and a sparse layer of gun powder is applied while the paper is damp. The paper is then twisted tightly making a length of finished fuse. This is then dried and cut into lengths of about two inches. Then the fuse is inserted into the end of the loaded cracker. The ends of the crackers are then crimped around the fuse making a tight seal.
A final step is when the fuses are braided together making a bundle of fire crackers. The fire crackers are then ready for use. Larger fire crackers can be made using this basic process just by increasing the size or quantity of the same ingredients as described above.