Ammonium perchlorate is an oxidiser used in a large number of compositions. Very impressive colour compositions can be made with it, but their burn rate is often too low for use in star compositions. For lance work and torches slow burning is an advantage and it is therefore commonly used in these items. Ammonium perchlorate is also used in composite rocket propellants, including the propellants used in the solid propellant boosters used for the space shuttle. The decomposition products of ammonium perchlorate are all gasses that are very beneficial for rocket propellants.
Ammonium perchlorate is usually bought from chemical suppliers or from dedicated pyro suppliers. Fine ammonium perchlorate powder is a regulated substance in most countries and cannot easily be bought or transported. Since it is such a useful chemical in pyrotechnics it can be worth the time and effort to try to prepare it at home. This can be done by first making sodium perchlorate followed by double decomposition with ammonium chloride (other ammonium compounds can be used). The preparation of sodium perchlorate is most easily accomplished by electrolysis. Chemical Destruction of any chlorates present in the sodium perchlorate must be performed BEFORE Ammonium Chloride is added as Ammonium Chlorate is very unstable. Amateur production of Ammonium Perchlorate via electrolysis is dangerous and not recommended.
Ammonium perchlorate can detonate by itself, although it is not very sensitive. Larger amounts and mixtures of ammonium perchlorate with metal powders or organic substances are more likely to detonate. Harmful if swallowed, inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Toxicity: ORL-RAT LD50 4200 mg kg SCU-RAT LD50 1600 mg kg