How To Make Starlite - The Miracle Insulating Material of Maurice Ward

Hello. A number of people pointed me to this thread after my Starlite video was published so I figured I would drop in and contribute. Interesting to find out someone else had been working on the same basic premise. Since my video I have also found others, some as old as 2014 using what seems to be a similar corn starch/baking soda based composition.

RJ Warner using a corn starch/baking soda/plaster composition in a video posted 2 years ago: Source: https://youtu.be/emKegm00b-k


Another clip, 4 years old but with no disclosed recipe (sodium content is indicated by the flame color): Source: https://youtu.be/2QXArylFJTg


So, to my dismay it seems I was not original in creating this same mixture. The bright side is that by my experiments I have found a vast number of ingredients can be substituted for the original three to modify the physical properties of the composition while retaining heat resistance - some properties perhaps being more useful than others. While I believe the corn starch/bicarb/PVA composition has many of the same properties of the original starlite, and certainly functions using the same principles, I do not believe that even one of those three ingredients were found in Ward's composition (except PVA when a plastic property was desired, but usually it was not the binder of choice). I would not usually disclose details of my future videos in advance, but in this case it seems fair since it looks like this group beat me to the punch on this project. In Ward's demonstrations there was no sodium flame, meaning the composition either did not contain sodium, or the cameras used had a didymium glass filter to remove the yellow sodium emissions (seems unlikely). Corn starch can also contribute a yellow flame to a lesser extent so I suspect a different carbon contributor was used as well. Lastly, Ward's starlite in most cases (but not all) went on as a paste similar to a grout or plaster. This means the binder was of a less plastic kind. I suspect plaster as was used by RJ Warner in the above video, or wheat paste, a homemade glue made from flour which may have been used in Ward's wig making. If the carbon contributor was flour rather than corn starch no binder may have been necessary at all, and water alone would allow the composition to be formed into a dough. Wetting flour with alcohol rather than water would bypass the dough formation and keep the mixture more grout-like like. Lots of possibilities.

I won't disclose any more until my next video, but those notes are the jumping off point for my attempt in nailing down what I believe is as close as possible to the genuine starlite composition. To the comments about it being a gimmick, I don't entirely disagree. I believe the nature of the presentations were to hype the product as much as possible without demonstrating any truly practical applications. That aspect is certainly gimmicky. I do believe that practical applications exist in the same way there is a market for other intumescent materials, but seeing starlite as a world changing material will end in disappointment. The most interesting property by far is not the fire proofing ability (which is attainable by other means), but the accessibility of the ingredients and their extremely low price. If long lasting weatherproof formulations can be made in a paintable form without drastically increasing cost it really could find some use in residential fireproofing. We'll see.

Best,
Ben
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
The most interesting property by far is not the fire proofing ability (which is attainable by other means), but the accessibility of the ingredients and their extremely low price. If long lasting weatherproof formulations can be made in a paintable form without drastically increasing cost it really could find some use in residential fireproofing.

There's the rub. I've really not seen anything to indicate that this is the case. It seems relatively easy to make something that's intumescent and that expands into carbon insulation. But if it's not mechanically robust then it's kind of pointless.

I was happy simply to replicate (nearly) the BBC experiment. I've got no illusions of it being a cheap fireproof material. Although the idea of a cheap crucible for thermite (as in the Beyond the Press video) is interesting from a conspiracy theory perspective. One immediately leaps to the idea that the world trade center was rigged with thermite in shaped charges lined with something like Starlite instead of roofing tiles, as seen in Johnathon Cole's videos.

Of course, you could just use carbon fiber and cut out the messy middleman.
 

Gib

New Member
There's the rub. I've really not seen anything to indicate that this is the case. It seems relatively easy to make something that's intumescent and that expands into carbon insulation. But if it's not mechanically robust then it's kind of pointless.

I was happy simply to replicate (nearly) the BBC experiment. I've got no illusions of it being a cheap fireproof material. Although the idea of a cheap crucible for thermite (as in the Beyond the Press video) is interesting from a conspiracy theory perspective. One immediately leaps to the idea that the world trade center was rigged with thermite in shaped charges lined with something like Starlite instead of roofing tiles, as seen in Johnathon Cole's videos.

Of course, you could just use carbon fiber and cut out the messy middleman.

This reminds me of a demo that a pal who is an expert founder gave of making a bronze lost-wax casting in the back yard, using an improvised kiln (about 30 cm cube) heated from a small gas bottle. The insulating material he used was blocks of a super-light material, cut into pieces about 4 cm thick. I just found out from him what this material is:
"My refractories are aluminosilicate fibre, lightly bound with colloidal silica. Basically a mineral felt. The still air trapped between the fibres gives the insulation."
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
This reminds me of a demo that a pal who is an expert founder gave of making a bronze lost-wax casting in the back yard, using an improvised kiln (about 30 cm cube) heated from a small gas bottle. The insulating material he used was blocks of a super-light material, cut into pieces about 4 cm thick. I just found out from him what this material is:
"My refractories are aluminosilicate fibre, lightly bound with colloidal silica. Basically a mineral felt. The still air trapped between the fibres gives the insulation."

It's not just the air giving the insulation. Air has a coefficient of thermal conductivity of 0.026 (at 25°C), so it is excellent insulator (if you can also stop it from moving around). But the material and the internal topology of the structure supporting that air also need to have (and result in) a low coefficient. You could not make a very good insulator out of metal foam, for example, no matter how thin you made the bubble walls.
 
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