Tiger tail is a composition which was designed by Takeo Shimizu. This effect leaves a long trail of sparks burning in the sky, and is commonly used as a composition for comets on shells, to leave an orange 'tail' as the shell streaks upwards. Besides from being used for rising effects on shells, it can be used to make stars.
Pine charcoal works very well for this composition. Alternatively, another hardwood charcoal--such as beech--can be used for a long effect. The best results are achieved when all components are thoroughly integrated, and this is easily accomplished with a ball mill. Any aqueous binder may be used, often dextrin because it works well and is readily available.
Method: The best stars or comets are made via the ball milling process, though screening the components together may work. The tiger tail mix can now be rolled, pumped, or pressed. When preparing the stars, it is important that a wet process is used, as the act of moistening the mixture with water greatly improves the resulting fire dust. To aid in incorporating the water in to the mix many people use a solution of about 75% water and 25% isopropyl alcohol, with no less than 75% water. The alcohol helps the charcoal absorb the potassium nitrate solution by reducing water's surface tension, thereby allowing the solution to enter more of the charcoal's pores. The drying time of the composition is also reduced, as alcohol evaporates faster than water.