What’s the Best Way to Store Flash Paper?
So, you bought a pack of Flash Paper and have studied all the safest ways to use it. Now, it’s time to learn the best ways to store Flash Paper.
Store Flash Paper Wet
Flash Paper is actually a theatrical term for a form of Nitrocellulose. It is a special tissue paper treated with Nitric Acid or another strong chemical compound. When dry, it becomes highly flammable and can be ignited by a slight spark, friction or even just overheating.
Flash Products like Flash Paper are always shipped wet and, as a good rule of thumb, should always be stored wet in their original packaging or some sort of sealed bag like a Ziploc bag. For extra safety, some magicians will even double bag their Flash Paper because the chemicals used can be quite corrosive.
When wet, Flash Paper has an approximate shelf life of about a year. While it may last longer if stored dry, it also becomes increasingly more dangerous and could potentially even spontaneously combust. Therefore, it’s much smarter and safer to purchase Flash Paper in smaller quantities and store it wet, as opposed to trying to make a bulk batch last longer by storing it dry.
Where Should You Store Flash Paper?
It’s also best to keep Flash Paper, Flash Cotton and Flash String and all other Flash Products in a cool, dry place with a low temperature. A humidor is the perfect place; but, assuming most magicians don’t have one of those, there are a variety of other options.
The main goal is to store Flash Paper in an area where moisture is prevented from evaporating. Preferably somewhere that also gets minimal light and has a lower temperature, like a drawer. Some magicians even go as far as storing their Flash Paper in the freezer.
If you search on magic forums for ways to store Flash Paper, you might find that some magicians store their flash paper in a sealed metal box like a toolbox. The thinking behind this is that it will contain the fire if the Flash Paper does ignite on its own. However, we do not suggest storing your Flash Products or Fire Magic Tricks in a sealed metal container—especially if you have large quantities.
Those who have seen the blockbuster magician movie “Now You See Me” may remember the iconic scene where the “Four Horsemen” ignite a pallet of Flash Paper inside a sealed bank vault. In the film, this went off without a hitch. However, In real life, this would have essentially acted like an explosive that probably would have blown the door off that vault.
Spotting Expired Flash Paper
Because Flash Paper wants to be ignited, it can get pretty unhappy when stored for a long time (approximately a year). So, it’s important to regularly check on your stash.
If your Flash Paper begins to take on a brown or rust-like color or starts to become slightly gooey, it should be disposed of immediately. Expired flash paper can actually self-ignite if left for too long. Take each expired piece of Flash Paper and hold it far away from your body with tongs. Safely light it with a long match or grill lighter until it’s all disposed of.
Using Flash Paper for Magic Tricks
About 24 hours before you’re ready to perform, take the Flash Paper out of storage. Be careful to only grab the amount you anticipate using. Leave it to air dry in a safe place that is far away from any direct heat or intense sunlight. DON’T try to speed up the process by laying the paper on an oven or a radiator, as this may ignite the paper once it’s dry.
If you don’t end up using some of the Flash Paper, wet it with distilled water (tap water has been shown to interfere with the chemical reaction) before placing it back in storage.
And remember, never try to make your own Flash Paper, people have died.