Aluminum powder is a highly flammable powder created by grinding aluminum into fine grains. In times past, this flammable metal powder was used in photography to create bright flashes during a photographic session. Today, it's one of the tools used in various applications of pyrotechnics, including the creation of fireworks displays.
Because of the combustible nature of powder aluminum products, there are a number of restrictions on its sale. In some countries, the powder is only available for purchase to businesses. Even in nations where it can still be purchased by individuals, it is not unusual for producers to only sell the powder to suppliers, who then sell small lots of it to residential customers.
While the use of aluminum powder as flash powder is the most readily recognized function of the compound, it can also be employed in the creation of wooden furniture and floors. Used primarily as an inlay compound, it can easily be used to set cut pieces of wood into position and also fill in any tiny gaps that may be present at the joints. Since only a minute amount of powder is necessary for functions of this type, the chances of ignition are somewhat limited.
Aluminum powder is best handled by professionals who know how to use the compound under controlled circumstances. Companies that produce fireworks displays for sports and municipal events are one example. When handled properly, the powder not only can produce spectacular visual effects, but also provide the loud booms that often add to the entertainment value of the fireworks display. Pyrotechnic professionals usually wear protective clothing, including gloves and safety goggles, in order to minimize direct exposure to the skin and eyes and also provide a barrier in the event that the powder ignites prematurely.
While vendors using aluminum often take a number of precautions, the highly explosive nature of the powder can lead to accidents in the most controlled environments. Should the powder come into contact with the eyes, they should be flushed immediately and continuously for at least 15 minutes. In the interim, emergency medical assistance should be summoned immediately.
Burns from the powder should also be treated with a continual flow of cold water as a means of cooling them and gently washing away any residue. If the powder is accidentally inhaled, the individual should be moved to fresh air immediately and in extreme situations, oxygen should be administered. In all circumstances, medical attention should be sought as quickly as possible to minimize the chance of any type of permanent damage.