Fireworks are a traditional form of celebration in england, but there are so many types of fireworks the choice can be overwhelming. However, if you know the basic types of fireworks and what they do, you can find the right types of fireworks for your show. One way to differentiate between the types of fireworks is to read the warning label as different types of fireworks will have different warnings. Below you'll find the types of fireworks explained, as well as how to tell them apart.
Roman candles fire a succession of stars, comets, or mini-shells and noise effect from a single tube. To maximise the effect we supply many of these in barrages where multiple tubes are linked with a single fuse. All our candles should be fastened to wooden stake rammed into the ground. We can provide stakes.
How they work
seem like a simple firework, the construction process is quite complex and difficult. After a clay plug at the bottom, the roman candle tube consists of alternating layers of lift charge
, stars, and delay compositions. When the fuse enters the tube, it activates a slow-burning delay composition
delay composition that makes its way down. Within seconds, the delay charge reaches the first star, simultaneously igniting
both it and the lift charge below it, which blows the star out of the tube. This ignites another layer of delay composition, which will light a star and the lift charge to blow it out a few seconds later. This continues until every star has been blown out of the tube.
Manchester Fireworks stocks a huge range of roman candles at our Manchester Firework Shop
call in anytime to look at our offers.
here is some examples of roman candles that we sell in our manchester firework shop Starbusters
Single ignition fireworks
Single ignition fireworks
are one of the types of fireworks that are the most exciting to watch. Though they vary in size, they all include a single fuse which ignites a preset routine of shells, fountains,
Bigger cakes work well as a grand finale while smaller cakes can be used to build anticipation or provide shorter, self-contained shows. Square and rectangular cakes shoot straight up while fan-shaped cakes provide slightly greater sky coverage. The two things to look for with cakes are weight and number of shots. Generally, the heavier a cake the more powder/shells it holds and the bigger and better the show. More shots in a cake means you'll get a longer show while less shots means you'll get a short, but very intense show. A 119-shot cake will usually work well as its own show while a 9-shot cake will work better as a grand finale of a longer performance. If a cake doesn't list a number of shots, you can tell by running a finger along the top of the cake and counting the number of tubes below the wrapping. It's hard to go wrong with "maximum load" cakes (usually 500 grams of powder) while smaller cakes can be more varied. At Manchester Fireworks we can allways help you in deciding the right kind of Single ignition firework
for your event.
The types of fireworks considered cakes will say "ejects stars and bangs" with the added "with reports" if they also have loud bangs. Cakes will include a number of tubes wrapped up with only a single fuse, which differentiates them from other types of fireworks
How they work
Single ignition fireworks
are just as complex as Roman candles
because that's basically what a repeater is - many tubes of mini-"shells" all in one unit. These clusters of tubes each have a clay plug in the bottom and a black powder lift charge. There are two holes in the side of each tube, and as the device is being constructed, small chunks of fuse are used to connect each tube to its neighbor. This way, when the first lift charge ignites and sends the effect into the air, the tube next to it ignites shortly afterwards, and so on. Most devices have several parallel-fused tubes towards the end of the "fire trail", so that several tubes ignite simultaneously (or in very rapid succession) at the end of the performance in order to intensify the display.
Here are some examples of single ignition fireworks that we sell in our manchester firework shop
Shockwave, Baby boomers, Dark angel, Heruclies, Chimera, Midnight
are one of the types of fireworks best suited for young children. They send out a shower of colorful sparks with very little noise. Size and color vary with Fountains
they are usually cylindrical and generally the bigger the package, the longer it will last and the higher it will go. Fountains are one of the types of fireworks that people either love or hate, so either way make sure you can tell them apart from other types of fireworks, especially cakes which can be very similar in size and shape.
If the warning label says "emits showers of sparks" you are holding a Fountain
. If it also says "ejects stars" then you will have a Fountain
effect as well as colorful bursts similar to rockets.
How they work
Single Tube Fountains
consist of a cardboard tube (which may be inside of a cone) that stands vertically on a plastic base. The tube is charged with a composition designed to make lots of sparks, flame, and gas. At the end of the tube there is a clay plug with a hole drilled into it, forming what is known as a "choke". Without a choke,
would only give off a weak spray of sparks. With a choke, however, a lot of pressure builds up inside of the tube, which forces the gas and sparks out of the fountain with a much greater velocity. Very small fountain tubes (i.e., 1/4 in diameter) don't require chokes.
composition is often layered as to produce different effects at different stages in the burning. For instance, one layer may burn to produce orange sparks, followed by a layer that produces white sparks and green star fragments.
At Manchester Fireworks we have a huge range of Fountains
for all sizes of gardens with most needing only a 5 metre safety distance.
Here is some examples of fountaines that we sell in our Manchester Fireworks Shop
are a firm favorite of manchester fireworks they are an aerial firework with its own means of propulsion. A rocket.
motor lifts the device high in the sky and a stick is used to stabilise and guide the rocket.
There are several types of fireworks that can fall under the category rocket
At the most basic level, they are cylinders filled with gunpowder tied to a stick that shoot into the air after you light them. The smallest rockets
are tiny bottle rockets. Rockets come in many sizes. Some have colorful explosions without much noise, some just make noise, some have color and noise. Generally, bigger rockets
will fly higher and provide a more pronounced bang and more colorful explosion. To shoot rockets, put the stick into some loose substance like sand or into a tube facing seventy-five degrees. Light the fuse and stand back.
How they work
are the second oldest type of firework that were originally discovered by mistake - the Chinese discovered that an open-ended firecracker propelled itself along the ground, rather than exploding. Since then, their construction has become much more complex. rockets
and missiles operate the same way; the only difference being in the method of stabilization (either fins or a stick). When the burning fuse enters the end, the cone-shaped chamber ignites within a fraction of a second. The shape of this chamber provides a very large surface area for burning to take place, creating a large volume of gas which is forced out of the back to create thrust. As a result, the rocket/missile travels in the opposite direction. Because of the rapid burning, the fuel is exhausted in a matter of seconds. The casing of the rocket
is usually fairly thick so it can withstand the high pressures of the burning fuel. The internal time fuse then transmits fire to the burst charge, which explodes to break open the rocket casing and ignite the stars or reports inside.
Wire mesh rocket packaging: The fall and rise of the big display rocket
Before recent changes in legislation, rockets of any size could be purchased singly or in packs. As you went up in size, the effect generally got bigger or louder. However even the smallest of garden rockets used to pack quite a punch. When fireworks were reclassified this all changed and rockets more than any other consumer firework has felt the effects of these new regulations.
The new legislation reduced the amount of powder allowed in 1.4G rockets to such an extent that many packet rockets today are quite weak compared to the old ones. It is no longer the case that you can rely on the cheaper garden rockets to bulk out your display with big effects.
The fireworks industry has been hard at work however to remedy this situation. To get the “old school” big effects in rockets you either need to find a supplier who sells display rockets under the 1.3G classification such as Manchester Fireworks Or, buy full power rockets which have been forced into the 1.4G classification by their packaging. This packaging is known as pyromesh or wire mesh. By surrounding the rockets in a wire mesh cage they are made “safer” in the event of a fire and are allowed to be classed as 1.4G fireworks rather than the more dangerous 1.3G classification. At manchester fireworks we sell both 1.3g and pyromeshed rockets.
Here are some examples of rockets that we sell in our manchester firework shop
Force of 5,
Manchester fireworks stocks a large range of regular rockets that you may find at a newsagents or supermarket but be also stock a huge range of the more powerfull 1.3g rockets.
that are more suitable for firework displays
with huge starbursts and bangs. So if you are looking to buy fireworks in Manchester
look no further than Manchester Fireworks.
need to be mounted on a long wooden stake. Two metres is ideal for small catherine wheels
. Larger catherine wheels
are more effective if placed higher.
How they work
consist of a cardboard frame to which are attached several small rockets, or "drivers". The device is usually attached by a nail to a wooden post. When the burning fuse enters each driver, the propellant burns rapidly to give off gas, which is forced out of the small nozzle to create thrust. This thrust spins the device around its axis. Unlike most rocket
propellants (which are designed to lift the rocket up into the air and not give color), the propellant used in wheel drivers burns to produce rich colors, sparks, crackle, etc. Because the wheel
spins so fast, it appears that there are "rings" of fire. When each driver is exhausted, the fire is transferred by another fuse to the next driver, which starts up again and continues the process (usually with a different effect). This usually happens so fast that the wheel
doesn't have time to stop spinning
At Manchester fireworks we sell wheels of all sizes for any event please call our manchester shop for more info.
The effect of a mine
is short-lived but usually very spectacular: a sudden eruption or burst from the mine
at ground level, shooting high into the air. In shop fireworks the mine is almost invariably preceded by a small Fountain
which builds up the anticipation of the main effect
How they work
are basically a ground-level aerial shell burst that is directed upwards. The bottom of the tube contains a black powder lift charge, similar to that found in a shell. When ignited, the lift charge engulfs the stars in flame, igniting them as it propels them out of the tube in a V-shaped pattern. The "spread" of the stars in the sky depends on both the length and the width of the mortar.
are typically one-shot-per-tube devices that are bunched together, resembling repeaters. Professional mines, however, are reloadable - the lift powder and stars are put in bags, which are lowered into the mortars and ignited.
Mines are allways a good addition to a home firework display at manchester fireworks we have many different types please call in to our Manchester Firework Showroom
for more info
Parachutes are used in professional and consumer fireworks to keep an effect aloft for longer than normal, typically for hanging lantern or flare effects. A show-stopper when used well.
Most of the parachute
fireworks that we sell at manchester fireworks are for daytime usage and can be found in the daytime fireworks
section of our website.
How they work
have a complex internal construction very similar to that of an aerial shell. Parachutes can come in the form of single tubes with a base, or clusters of tubes that look like a tall repeater. The launch tube is usually quite thick to withstand the forces of the powerful, noisy lift charge. When the lift charge ignites, it blasts a "parachute tube" high into the air. Meanwhile, a time fuse is burning inside of the parachute tube, which in turn ignites a tiny burst charge when the tube reaches the highest point in its flight. Much like a model rocket, this burst (or "ejection") charge blasts the parachutes
from the parachute tube. There is often a small piece of paper "wadding" between the burst charge and the parachutes to prevent the chutes from burning up. The tissue parachutes are attached to small chunks of tube filled with clay to serve as weights. They can be packed together tightly, which enables several parachutes
to be put inside of one parachute tube.
Sometimes the weight tube is filled with a smoke composition. A short piece of fuse transfers fire from the parachute
tube's burst charge to the composition in the weight, which smokes as it drifts down from the sky. Nighttime parachutes use a steady-burning star or strobe composition in place of smoke composition
Aerial Display Shells
Aerial display shells are category four fireworks used only by professionals. An aerial effect enclosed in a paper or card "shell" and launched from a mortar tube by a lifting charge (also contained in the shell). Effects vary from plain bangs (maroons) to expansive and pretty colours or multiple effects. Responsible for many of the quality aerial effects seen in a professional fireworks display
How they work
Aerial Shells are one of the most beautiful and certainly one of the most complex types of fireworks. A shell consists of main parts: a container, a lift charge, a time fuse, a burst charge, and stars/effects. The container, or shell casing, is a strong wall that protects the contents. The lift charge propels the shell out of the tube, and the time fuse ignites the burst charge at the right altitude. The burst charge then ignites the effects.
Shells are launched from a tube known as a mortar. A string loop is often attached to consumer firework shells so it can lowered into the mortar by the fuse. When the fuse enters the shell, it ignites the burst charge, creating an explosion that ignites the time fuse and shoots the shell high into the air.
As the shell ascends, the time fuse burns towards the burst charge. At the precise altitude - usually where the shell is briefly hanging in the air - the time fuse ignites the black powder
burst charge, causing the shell to explode. The powerful explosion blasts apart the shell casing and ignites the stars, scattering them in all directions across the sky. These stars burn brightly and give off sparks, creating a huge spherical pattern in the sky.
are used to ignite display fireworks. They are wind and rain proof. Each burns for approximately 5 minutes.
1.1G (0333) The UN classification of fireworks packaged for transport that pose a mass-explosion (detonation) hazard
GLOSSARY OF FIREWORK TERMS
1.2G (0334) The UN classification of fireworks packaged for transport that pose a projectile hazard
1.3G (0335) The UN classification of fireworks packaged for transport that pose a fiery projectile or thermal radiation hazard
1.4G (0336) The UN classification of fireworks packaged for transport that pose a limited hazard
1.4S (0337) The UN classification of fireworks packaged for transport that pose a very limited hazard, the effects of accidental ignition are confined within the package itself.
Aerial bomb Preferred term:- Aerial shell
Aerial firework In general a firework which functions above the immediate area of the ground - i.e. rockets, shells, roman candles and mines.
Aerial shell A shell designed to function at high altitude.
Alloy A combination, usually of 2 metals, which takes on some of the characteristics of its components. Alloys cannot be separated into their constituent parts by normal physical methods.
Aqueous Pertaining to water. In fireworks, aqueous usually refers to solutions used for damping stars in manufacture.
Atomic pattern In a shell burst, usually taken to be three contiguous circles representing the orbits off electrons around a central nucleus (rather than the atomic "hazard" symbol)
Bag mine A mine without a rigid case that is fired from a mortar. The advantage of bag mines is their very low debris pattern, although their performance is rarely as good as mines similar mines with a rigid case.
Banger Usually a complete firework, designed to produce a loud bang, rather than a component of a larger firework (e.g. a mine) - which are better referred to as crackers.
Bare match Black match without a sleeve, preferred term:- Black match
Barrage A combination of several fireworks, most usually Roman candles and/or mines, designed to be fired with a single ignition
Battery In fireworks a combination of, say Roman candles, fused together for increased effect and/or duration.
Battle in the clouds A shell producing a series of salutes after bursting.
Bengal A pyrotechnic coloured flare
Bickford fuse A slow burning fuse used either for preparation of internal shell delays, or for timing sequential firings
Black match Usually a cotton thread coated with blackpowder, in its raw state. Black match contains within a paper tube is usually referred to as piped match.
Black shell Preferred term:- Blind shell
black powder A composition, comprising Potassium Nitrate, Sulphur and Charcoal in the ratio 75:15:10 widely used in fireworks manufacture as a propellant and as the basis for compositions containing metal powders. It is considered by most people that blackpowder does not detonate on ignition, but merely burs extremely fast!
Blasting powder Blasting powder may be made with either Potassium Nitrate (type A) or Sodium Nitrate (type B) as the oxidant.
Blind shell A shell that fails to bust, having been successfully launched from its mortar. Potentially very dangerous.
Blinker An effect of periodic burning giving the effect of a flashing composition or strobe.
Bomb Inappropriate term for shell
Bombardo racks Usually a bottom fused multiple firing assembly.
Bombette In essence a mini shell, usually found as a component of a Roman candle, and less often as a component of a mine or even as a sub component of a shell.
Bottom fused The normal method of fusing of a shell, where the shell delay is ignited by the lifting charge of the shell. Also, for cakes where fusing is at the base of each tube.
Bottom shot Typically a maroon as the last shot of a multibreak shell
Bounce A charge of blackpowder at the base of a gerb - used to give an audible "crack" at the end of the burning of the gerb, and to enhance the effect.
Boxed finale A rapid firing array, usually of shells, with a single point of ignition. Physically they comprise a number of pre-loaded mortars, very often with titanium salute shells.
BPA British Pyrotechnics Association - a trade association concerned with all aspects of fireworks safety and use in the UK. Recently split into Retail and Display sections.
Break A normal shells is referred to as "single break". In a multibreak shell there are many sequential bursts, each a separate entity (cf shell of shells for instance).
British standard Prepared in the late 1980's for consumer fireworks. The standard sets performance, labelling and constructional requirements for a variety of consumer fireworks available to the public in the UK and also prescribes test regimes and methods for compliance.
brocade Long burning star similar to but brighter and shorter burning than a kamuro star
Burning Typically an exothermic oxidation/reduction reaction. For fireworks the oxidant is usually a solid oxygen-rich ionic salt such as Potassium Nitrate.
Bursting charge The internal charge in a shell designed to break the shell at the predetermined time, spreading and igniting the contents of the shell. Bursting charges are typically made of blackpowder (for effects shells) or flash powder (for colour shells).
Butterfly burst A bust of a cylindrical tube from a central point, thus producing an effect akin to the wings of a butterfly. The term is also used for the more complicated burst pattern of a "butterfly" shell, although in many ways the theory of action is similar.
Cake Colloquial term for a multishot battery, arising from the outward appearance of many of the smaller items (e.g. 90 shot cakes).
Calibre In firework terms usually the inside diameter of the firing tube, although strictly the diameter of the projectile.
Candle Abbreviated term for Roman candle
Cannonade Usually an aerial shell containing several shots fused to explode at the same time after the shell bursts. Also a popular generic name for a multishot battery from China.
Capping Usually a rolled kraft paper tube used to connect several fuses together in a spark-proof join.
Case Typically the tube containing the pyrotechnic composition of the firework.
Category 1 firework Indoor firework as defined by British standard 7114; part 2
Category 2 firework Garden firework as defined by British standard 7114; part 2
Category 3 firework Display firework as defined by British standard 7114; part 2
Category 4 firework Fireworks defined in the British Standard as being not suitable for sale to the general public. Generally, but erroneously, taken to mean larger display fireworks.
Catherine wheel The traditional name for the generic wheel. The name derives from St. Catherine ...
Celebration cracker Usually a roll of many hundreds or thousands of individual cracker units designed to be unrolled and hung from a solid object prior to lighting. These items, traditionally part of Chinese New year celebrations are now widespread.
Chain fused A method of fusing several elements, particularly in a finale box or shell sequence.
Changing Relay A low light intensity composition used, particularly in Japanese shell manufacture, to accentuate and regularise the colour change in stars of a chrysanthemum or Peony shell.
Charging Usually the process of filling a tube with composition or units (e.g a gerb or Roman candle)
Cherry bomb A small powerful banger containing flash powder now banned in the US. The item was usually covered in red paper - hence "cherry".
Chinese cracker Chinese firecracker
Choke The narrowing of a tube, most often associated with fountains and rockets. Chokes may be made by physically distorting the tube, by means of an end piece, or by clay or other material.
Chrysanthemum shell A spherical burst, typically Japanese, in which the stars leave a visible trail.
Chuffing The sound produced by the unstable burning of some rocket motors - usually a sign of instability.
Class B firework The US categorisation for Display fireworks
Class C firework The US categorisation for Consumer fireworks
Closed circuit A complete electric circuit, usually in the context of a circuit ready to fire.
Coconut shell Usually a shell containing large comets (gold, silver or crackle) which produce a typical coconut palm type effect on bursting. Typically the shell will also be fitted with a complementary colour rising tail.
Colour enhancing agent Usually a chlorine donor such as PVC or Cerechlor added to a colour composition to enhance the intensity of the colour. The chlorine forms metal-Cl species in the flame which emit strongly in the visible part of the spectrum. It is thought that potassium chlorate/perchlorate may play a similar, though diminished, role.
Comet Usually a solid cylinder of composition, manufactured in a mould by hand or by machine. The effect is that of a large star rising (from say a Roman candle). The comet is completely self consuming and thus particularly suitable for sites where debris is a problem.
Comet pump A larger version of a star pump typically used to make Roman candle stars and splitting comets
Composition The generic and widely used term for all pyrotechnic mixtures. More specifically composition is taken to mean the list of ingredients in a particular pyrotechnic mixture. All compositions contain at least an oxidant and a fuel, together with additional ingredients for colour/effect production etc.
Cone A specialised type of fountain in the shape of a cone. The advantages of a cone are predominantly ease of filling, and the fact that the burning area increases as the fireworks proceeds, thus compensating for the increase in diameter of the choke.
Confinement The process by which some explosives, e.g blackpowder, can change from extremely rapid burning to something approaching detonation. For instance, blackpowder confined in a tube will produce a loud report when lit, whilst blackpowder burning loose does not.
Continuity An electric circuit is said to be continuous when it is complete - thus a continuity check of a circuit is carried out to ensure that the circuit is not open.
Convolute wound tube A tube wound from a piece of paper the same width as the tube is long. Convolute tubes tend to be stronger than spiral wound tubes, although they are also more expensive to produce.
Covalent bond A type of chemical bond in which electrons are shared by the participating atoms. This type of bond typically occurs between nonmetallic elements. In fireworks the important occurrence is in high energy species in the flame producing colours.
Cracker A better term ,and less emotive, than banger. Also an assembly of many crackers often referred to as a "Chinese cracker". A novelty cracker, commonly used at Christmas in the UK is another use of the term.
Crackle A relatively recent effect comprising many small sharp bangs, thrown from a relatively low intensity comet. Chemically, most crackle compositions contain either lead or Bismuth oxides.
Cross match Typically a piece of thin raw match used to facilitate ignition of a shell's internal time fuse. Generally made by either splitting or punching the time fuse.
Crossette The American term for a splitting comet.
Crossing stars Typically a pyrotechnic effect formed by fitting two stars together in a tube with a central bursting charge. Also known as French Splits.
Crown chrysanthemum syn. Diadem chrysanthemum. Typically a chrysanthemum like shell bursts with longer burning stars that continue to fall to the ground after the normal maximum burst diameter. Very often the stars have a colour change at the end of their flight.
Cut star A star, usually cuboid in form, prepared from a rolled sheet of composition.
Cylinder shell An aerial shell of typically European manufacture which is cylindrical in form. Very often a "stack" of cylinder shells is combined, with suitable modification, to produce a typical multibreak shell. Cylinder shells are usually "spiked" to produce a harder burst
Dahlia shell A spherical shell burst, similar to a peony, but usually with fewer, brighter, stars.
Dark fire In Roman candle terminology the low light-emitting composition applied to the surface of Roman candle stars acting as a sort of prime. The term has also been applied to the composition applied between colours in colour changing stars.
Daylight shell A shell designed to be fired in daylight and thus incorporating one or more of the following effects:- noise units (crackers, whistles etc.), smoke, magnesium stars.
Deflagration A particular type of explosive propagation in which propagation is faster than mere burning, but is not detonation.
Delay Usually a pyrotechnic composition that burns at a predetermined rate and used for timing either within a firework assembly (e.g a Roman candle) of between firework elements (e.g in a shell sequence).
Delay fuse A pyrotechnic composition designed to give a delay before functioning the next device in the explosive train. The most common use for a delay fuse is to provide a number of seconds for the operator to retire from the device before it functions. Also the internal delay within a shell used to ignite the bursting charge.
Detonating cord A high powered explosive material encased in a plastic or cloth sleeve that burns by propagation of a detonating shock wave (typically 5000-7000 metres/sec)
Detonation An exothermic chemical reaction in which the propagating front travels at supersonic speeds and thus an explosion always results.
Detonator Not to be confused with a firework igniter, or squib, a detonator is used to initiate high explosives. As such, detonators are security attractive items and their possession is controlled in many countries.
Display area Usually the area in which the rigging of the display takes place (syn. firing area), but more generally the entire area encompassing spectator area, firing area, safety area and fallout area.
Display firework Usually a large firework intended for use at large public/private displays. In the US it is erroneously synonymous with UN 0335 (1.3G) fireworks.
DOT Abbreviation for the US Department of Transportation. In the UK the similar department is now called the Department of Environment and the Regions (Abbr. DETR)
Double base propellant Homogeneous propellants which usually contain nitrocellulose in nitroglycerine and typically used in small arms ammunition and military rockets but rarely in fireworks.
Draw-out shell A two break shell in which the first burst is usually colour, the second colour and report.
Driver A specialised gerb, usually more powerful than a gerb used on a static set piece, whose primary purpose is in turning a wheel or similar item. In the past turning cases were invariably gold, usually made with neat blackpowder with the addition of charcoal, and produced very few sparks. Modern drivers often include titanium for additional visual effect.
DTI In the UK the Department of Trade and Industry, responsible for aspects of the sale of fireworks to the general public.
EIG The Explosive Industry Group of the British Confederation of British Industry. The EIG is not a trade organisation and as such does not actively promote the firework industry. Its primary purpose is liaison with Government on safety and legislative matters.
Electric firing The process of firing a display electrically. Many varied systems have been developed ranging from simple "nail boards" to automatic, computer controlled systems.
Electric igniter The preferred term for the device used to ignite pyrotechnics electrically.
Electric match Used for firing firework displays electronicly.
Electrostatic Sensitivity The tendency of a composition to ignite (usually accidentally) from the energy supplied by an electric spark.
European standard A proposed standard (CEN 212) for consumer fireworks in the EU The standard is due to come into force in 1999.
Explode To expand with force and noise because of rapid chemical change or decomposition, as gunpowder or nitroglycerine
Explosive technically - any material that is capable of undergoing a self-contained and self-sustained exothermic chemical reaction at a rate that is sufficient to produce substantial pressures on their surroundings thus causing physical damage. ALL fireworks are classified as explosives.
Explosive train The progress of fire from one explosive element to another. For instance within a hand-lit shell the train is Delay Fuse->shell leader->lifting charge->shell delay->bursting charge->star prime->star
Fallout area The area designated for debris to fall at a firework display. Obviously the position and size of the fallout area are critically dependent on the wind direction and strength at the time of the display. Careful planning at the design stage must allow for variations in the fallout area and position.
Ferro-Titanium An alloy of Iron and Titanium which is finding increasing use in firework manufacture. Different ratios of Fe:Ti are available although generally all burn with a much more silver flame than Fe alone.
Finale barrage A rapid firing, pre-fused, sequence (usually of aerial fireworks) that is typically fired at the end of a display.
Firecracker Traditionaly used in chinese new year celebrations to warn off eveil spirits.
Firework Technically an explosive assigned one of five UN numbers (0333->0337). For our purposes a device which is designed for entertainment and that comprises pyrotechnic composition.
>Firing area The best term for the actual area of firing (rather than display area)
Firing current The current that is applied to an electric igniter that causes it to function.
First fire A composition used, particularly in gerbs, to initiate the explosive train. It is not synonymous with prime.
Fix Old English term for a gerb that is not a turning case. Very often these gerbs had a "bounce".
Flanked Usually applied to racks or mortars or Roman candles on a frame in which 3 tubes are angled to produce a dispersed effect.
Flare A pyrotechnic device used to produce coloured light when ignited. In the US this is typically a tube, similar to a large lance. In the UK the term is often applied to distress signals.
Flash paper A form of nitrocellulose, easily ignited and used to produce a puff of flame.
Flash powder An extremely powerful pyrotechnic composition, typically made from Potassium perchlorate (or rarely pot. chlorate) and powdered aluminium (or magnesium). In fireworks flash powder is often used for powerful maroon shells, ad for bursting colour shells.
Flash rocket A rocket that usually only contains flash powder as its payload and thus functions with a loud report and a flash. Flash rockets should never be fired in multiples from cones for risk of detonation. Flash rockets find much use for bird scaring.
Flight rocket Usually a small calibre (approx. 14mm) rocket fired in a large number simultaneously from a rocket cone or rocket frame to produce a characteristic fan-like effect.
Flitter A spark effect (usually silver/gold) produced by the incorporation of relatively coarse metal powders (usually aluminium). the glitter effect is similar but distinct.
Flower pot A shell misfunction in which the shell bursts within the mortar propelling the shell contents upwards as if from a mine.
Flying saucer An unusual firework device, usually constructed from a ring of plastic or wood, with turning cases and lifting cases. The functioning of the device usually involves rotation around a vertical axis, followed by ascent into the air. "Double acting" saucers fall and then reascend to the crowd's delight!
Flying squib A toy firework of erratic flight now banned in many countries. Not to be confused with the electrical squib.
Fountain A device comprising pyrotechnic composition charged into a tube which may or may not be choked. The composition may be hand charged, or more commonly nowadays, machine charged.
Friction Sensitivity The tendency for a composition to ignite as the result of frictional energy (i.e. rubbing).
Front Usually an arrangement of Fountains, mines, set pieces , or Roman candles along a line parallel to the spectators and fired simultaneously.
Fuel In a pyrotechnic composition that which the oxidant oxidises. Common fuels include charcoal, sulphur, aluminium and magnalium. All common pyrotechnic compositions contain at least an oxidant and a fuel.
Funnel and wire One method of charging tubes with firework composition.
Fuse The generic term for the means of transferring fire to a firework, or from one part of a firework to another.
Fuse cover The protective cover for the initial fuse of a firework. Often coloured to aid identification in the dark.
Fusee A long duration flare, usually red, which may be used as a warning flare on the highway or railway. Fusees may also be used to light fireworks.
Garden firework A firework, usually of limited power and composition weight, intended to be used in restricted areas outdoors.
Gerb , Usually a relatively thick-walled tube filled with composition and having a choke. A gerb functions by throwing out a shower of sparks.
Glitter An effect that produces drossy droplets of molten composition which reach with the air to produce a sparkling or glittering effect that is not as distinct as a strobe effect. Similar but distinct from flitter.
Glutinous rice starch A binding agent much favoured by Japanese star makers
Greek fire Used in combat, Greek fire was an early use of pyrotechny. It comprised sticky long-burning composition usually fired from catapults.
Green man The symbol of the Pyrotechnics Guild International depicting the PGI
Ground burst A low level burst of a shell and potentially very dangerous.
Ground firework A firework designed to function at ground level.
Ground maroon A single powerful cracker designed to produce a loud report and a flash.
GRP mortar Glass Reinforced Plastic - a relatively recent addition to the design of mortars. GRP mortars, usually spirally would, are light, cheap and extremely strong. However some there is some doubts as to their suitability for cylinder shells especially in larger calibres.
Gums Usually applied to binding agents soluble in water
Gun A poor term for mortar
Gunpowder Fireworkers prefer the term Blackpowder although chemically and physically the two are the same.
Hammer shell A shell, typically multibreak, comprising colour breaks and reports timed to break in alternation.
Hanabi Japanese word for Fireworks, roughly translated as "flowers of fire"
Hang fire A fuse or pyrotechnic composition that continues to burn very slowly, often almost invisibly, rather than at it's design speed. As such a hangfire presents a serious danger to firers.
HSE The British Health and Safety Executive - the legislative and enforcement body in the UK
Hummer A device that produces a humming sound, usually made from a thick walled tube filled with composition, sealed at both ends, and pierced tangentially to the inner diameter. The sound is made as the device spins rapidly in flight.
Hygroscopic The property of a material that causes it to absorb and retain moisture from the air. As such, Hygroscopic compounds find only limited use in firework manufacture.
Igniter Shortened term for Electric igniter
Igniter cord Also, more properly, called Plastic Igniter Cord generally made for the blasting industries in several speeds. The slow cord finds use in fireworks manufacture, particularly for fitting of delay fuses.
>Ignition The initiation of burning of a pyrotechnic material
Indoor firework In terms of the British and European standards devices of very limited power suitable for use indoors. Types include sparklers, snakes and other novelty items.
Ionic bond A type of chemical bond characterised by transfer of electrons from one atom to another. Thus common salt is written Na+Cl-. Most oxidants and colouring agents for firework compositions are ionic compounds.
Japanese style shell The ultimate spherical burst shell. The Japanese strive to produce perfect symmetry and patters in their shells. Japanese shells are also noted for the contrasting coloured pistils that form part of the burst of many effects.
Jumping Jack A firecracker which emits jumping balls of light while spinning at high speed
Kamuro A long burning star, usually silver or gold, that falls a substantial distance from the shell burst before, perhaps, changing colour at the end of its flight.
Kraft paper A strong paper used for pasting shells and for capping.
Lance Usually a small, thin walled, tube containing coloured composition used to make lancework.
Lancework Usually a message, logo, or design made on a wooden lattice work frame comprising many lances fused together
Leader The initial fuse of a shell that transfers fire from the delay fuse (if any) to the lifting charge of the shell. For small calibre shells the leader may be used to lower the shell to the bottom of the mortar tube, but this is not good practise with larger calibre shells.
Lifting charge The charge beneath an aerial shell (or Roman candle unit) which propels the unit into the air. The lifting charge almost universally used in firework manufacture is granulated blackpowder.
Line In electrical firing one "line" is a single circuit, perhaps comprising many individual ignitions, that are fired simultaneously.
Line rocket A rocket designed to travel along a wire or rope.
Low explosive An explosive that burns or deflagrates on ignition rather than detonating. Almost all pyrotechnic compositions are low explosives.
M-80 A type of small, but powerful, device containing flash powder. M-80s are now banned from sale in the US and UK.
Machine A construction, commonly used in the 19th and early 20th Centuries, to "enhance" the spectacle of a fireworks display. Great efforts were made to disguise the presence of fireworks within statues and ornaments, which would then be ignited to produce the intended, but concealed, firework effect.
Magnalium The most commonly used alloy in firework making. Magnalium is usually a 1:1 mixture of magnesium and aluminium and is described chemically as a eutectic mixture of Al2Mg3 in Mg2Al3.
Manufacture The process of making fireworks from the raw materials. The term is more generally applied to any manipulation of firework components (e.g fusing shells).
Maroon An exploding device that produces a loud bang. Aerial maroons are the most common, the composition being wither blackpowder or flashpowder. From French - marron - chestnut (from the noise they make in a fire)
Match The generic term for quickmatch, black match etc
Meal powder Finely divided blackpowder available in several grades.
Mesh size The designation of the number of wires of standard thickness per inch used to make a sieve. For instance a 60 mesh sieve has a screen size of 250 microns.
Metal salt The combination of an electropositive metal ion with an electronegative anion. For instance Potassium Nitrate.
MIDI A method of computer control of firework displays in which cues are programmed like notes on a score. MIDI is an internationally recognised coding standard usually used for composing music.
Mine Typically a complete with firing tube, but generally the firework itself.
Mini mine A Roman candle in which each shot produces a mine effect many stars, rather than the more typical single star per shot.
Misfire In general any failure of a firework to function as predicted. Modern usage restricts the term to the failure of a firework fuse.
Mixture Usually synonymous with "composition", but may mean the list of ingredients of a composition.
Mortar The tube used to fire an aerial shell, or mine. Mortars can be constructed from paper, plastic, GRP or metal.
Mortar mine A mine fired from a mortar.
Mosaic The French term for splitting comet
Multibreak shell An aerial shell comprising more than one section producing a separate effect in sequence and ignited by the bursting of the preceding section. The public may incorrectly refer to a "shell of shells" as a multibreak effect.
Multishot battery The generic term for a collection of pyrotechnic pieces lit at a single ignition point, but often used exclusively for items referred to as "cakes"
Muzzle break A malfunction of a shell where the bursting charge operates just as the shell leaves the mortar. This is a common point of shell failure as the pressure changes that act on the shell are great at this point.
Niagara falls Brocks often fitted Niagara falls with a loud whistle accompanying the visual effect.
No-fire current The upper limit for a current that will not fire an igniter, and thus the upper limit for a test current for electrical circuits.
Noise mine A mine in which the principle effect is ejection of pyrotechnic noise units (e.g crackers or whistles)
Nomatch A specialised system for igniting fireworks using a shock tube. The advantage of Nomatch is the extremely high speed of propagation leading to almost simultaneous ignition of several pieces at great distances.
Ohm meter A device for measuring the resistance of a circuit, and typically build into electrical firing panels. The current applied by the Ohm meter must be less that the no-fire current!
Open circuit An electric circuit that is not complete - i.e will not fire when a current is applied.
Orange book The United Nations book on the Classification and Testing of Dangerous Goods UN classification
Organic In our terms a solvent that is not based on water (e.g Acetone or Cyclohexanone)
Oxidant The component of a firework composition that supplies the oxygen to the reaction (e.g Potassium Nitrate)
Palm burst The central bust, similar to a coconut shell, of a colour shell. For instance a "Red peony with palm core"
Parallel circuit An electrical circuit in which the current is divided to pass through several igniters. Parallel circuits are less easy to test for line breaks and short circuits than series circuits.
Paste The most common usage is that referring to the pasting of aerial shells to enhance the burst of the shells.
Pattern shell A shell, usually with many fewer stars than a chrysanthemum shell of the same calibre, whose burst patter in such that a pattern rather than a sphere of stars is produces. Pattern shells come in many levels of complexity, but perhaps the most pleasing is the simple single circle.
Pellet An alternative term for a star, usually restricted to pumped, cylindrical form, stars.
Peony shell A typical Japanese style of shell in which the stars do not leave a trail of sparks.
PGI The American "Pyrotechnics Guild International"
PIC Plastic Igniter Cord
Pigeon A specialised type of novelty firework in which a rocket motor is forced to run horizontally along a wire or rope, usually accompanied by a whistling effect. Often, the pigeon will make the journey several times, first in one direction, then the other.
Pillbox star A star made from pressing (usually by hand) composition into a small thin-walled cardboard tube. Pill box stars are rarely made nowadays, but their effect can be dramatically different to round or pumped stars. Pill box stars usually have a longer burning duration that pumped or round stars.
Piped match Raw match enclosed in, usually, a paper tube used for transferring fire from one firework to another. Piped match also forms the leader of a shell.
>Pistil In typical Japanese shells a central core to the burst of a contrasting or complementary colour to the main burst.
Plug Typically the closure of a mortar tube, but more generally the closure of any tube (e.g a Roman candle tube)
Poka shell A weak busting shell of Japanese design commonly used for deploying parachutes or tissue-paper flags.
Portfires Usually a thin-walled tube filled with slow burning composition used to ignite other fireworks. It is similar to a fusee, but its flame is usually less fierce and usually burns white. A test for a good portfire is that it should continue to burn after being dropped vertically onto its lit end at arm's length!
Post A geographical position on a firing site used to identify the layout of the site. For in