One of the most important uses of lycopodium powder is in the pyrotechnic industry. Its ability to form a combustible mixture with air is often used in manufacturing an assortment of fireworks.
Did You Know?
For educational purposes, lycopodium powder is the first choice to introduce students to dust explosions.
Lycopodium powder is extracted from the spores of Lycopodium clavatum, a spore-bearing vascular club moss plant. The powder contains the dry spores of the club moss plant. The spores contain a high amount of oil, making them highly flammable. Hence, this yellow-tan dust-like powder derived from these minute spores displays explosive properties. No wonder lycopodium powder is commonly used in the pyrotechnic industry.
In the upcoming sections, we’ll have a look at the various lycopodium powder uses and side effects to get a better understanding of it.
Uses of Lycopodium Powder
As the powder is combustible, it can be used in making fireworks and other explosives. When combined with air, it creates an explosive mixture. For instance, when the powder is uniformly distributed in a metal can and then ignited, it produces an explosion and causes the metal lid to fly off. In another instance, one can notice a brilliant ball of fire when the powder is sprayed close to a candle flame. The spectacular fireballs that we notice in Hollywood movies and dubbed as special effects is due to the lycopodium powder burning in the air. Magic shows that present special combustion effects is also because of lycopodium powder catching fire.
Surgical gloves and even condoms are often coated with lycopodium powder, as it acts like a waterproofing agent. So the coating makes these natural rubber items highly water resistant, and moreover, provides lubrication so that they can be easily used.
Lycopodium powder has a long history of use as a flash powder. Prior to the advent of flash bulbs, photographers would make use of lycopodium powder to take a photo. As the powder was ignited, it provides a momentary flash, thereby illuminating the subject whose photograph was to be taken. Early photography involved the use of a flash pan that momentarily illuminated the subject, which allowed the photographer to get a clearer picture.
Lycopodium powder also plays a crucial role in the production of metal castings. As we know, metals are given a specific shape by first melting them, followed by pouring the molten metal into a mold, and then allowing it to solidify. After solidification, the metal gets the shape of the mold, which is eventually removed. Lycopodium powder acts as a de-molding or parting agent, and is placed between the mold and the substance to be molded. It acts as a separator and prevents the mold from binding with the molten metal. This ensures that the metal, after it has solidified, can be easily removed from the mold.
Historically, lycopodium powder has been used as a dusting powder that helps soak up sweat, in turn keeping body odor at bay. Its antimicrobial properties also help treat skin infections. No wonder application of lycopodium powder also extend to cosmetics, that include face and hair powder. Facial moisturizers, shaving creams, aftershave lotions, and even deodorants often contain lycopodium powder as an active ingredient.
Lycopodium powder, due to its waterproofing property, makes it an ideal choice for coating medicinal pills. This ensures that the pills are resistant to water absorption. Their ability to repel moisture also prevents their adhesion to each other.
Lycopodium spore powder made from the spikes of the plant has varied uses in homeopathy. In the months of summer, the spikes are separated from the plant in order to obtain their spores. This is followed by keeping the spores immersed in alcohol for a period of 5 days. The solution is then strained, and then drained to collect the undissolved matter, which forms the homeopathic medicine lycopodium. Taking it internally may help in relieving digestion problems that are marked by gas, vomiting, flatulence, and nausea. The use of this homeopathic medicine may also benefit people suffering from kidney stones and inflammation of the prostate.
Possible Side Effects
People who are sensitive to lycopodium extracts are likely to suffer from skin problems, like contact dermatitis after applying topical products that contain lycopodium powder. Inhaling airborne lycopodium is likely to have a negative impact on the respiratory function, particularly in asthma patients. Using lycopodium as a homeopathic remedy for an extended duration of time can irritate the mouth and throat, and even cause digestive disturbances.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.