Any fireworks item that shoots flaming balls into the air, such as a cake or mortar. AHJ
Acronym for “the authority having jurisdiction.” Generally refers to the fire marshal, local police department, local fire department, or whoever is responsible for regulating and monitoring fireworks in your area.Ash Can
Ash can is another name for a silver salute. True ash cans became illegal in 1966. Legal ash cans today contain only 50 milligrams of flash powder.Assortment
Collection of fireworks items, generally consisting of fountains, sparklers, rockets, and firecrackers.
A group of items fired all at once.Battery
A battery is a group of similar items that is constructed as a single bundle, such as a missile battery of a roman candle battery.Black Match
Used in the manufacture of fireworks, black match is a type of cotton string fuse saturated in black powder. Unconfined, black match burns at an approximate rate of one inch per second. See also quick match (below).Black Powder
Also known as gunpowder, black powder is a mixture of potassium nitrate, charcoal, and sulfur. It is the principal ingredient in most fireworks because it is not sensitive to shock and its burning properties are predictable and slow. Generally it’s used as a propellant to shoot flaming balls, and in the manufacture of stars for aerial effects.
Sometimes referred to as “repeaters” or “multi-shot aerials”, a cake is an item that has a single fuse which is used to light several tubes in sequence. Cakes can have a variety of intricate aerial effects, including spinners, fish, flower bouquets, comets, crossettes, and other elements. Cakes are the most popular consumer fireworks item outside of sparklers and firecrackers.Candle
Another name for roman candle (see definition below).Cherry Bomb
A cherry bomb is a round firecracker, red in color, and approximately one-inch in diameter, with a green water proof fuse sticking out the side. The original cherry bomb contained more than one gram of flash powder and was very powerful. These were declared illegal in 1966 by the federal government. Legal cherry bombs today are restricted to 50 milligrams of flash powder.Chlorates
A powerful form of chemical oxidizer, including potassium chlorate and barium chlorate. Because these items can form compounds that are sensitive to shock, especially when they come in contact with sulfur, they are banned from all consumer fireworks, but may be present in some commercial fireworks.
A shell that produces a starfish like shape.Day Time Effect
A type of fireworks that can be enjoyed better during the day time than the night time. Includes smoke items and parachute items.Decomposition
The chemical process of converting a compound or mixture into another chemically stable form. Decomposition is usually accompanied by the production of heat.Deflagrate
To burn or vaporize suddenly, usually accompanied by a considerable amount of heat and large volumes of gas. When the speed of the burn or the escaping gas exceeds the speed of sound, the result is a loud boom. Deflagration is the scientific term for how fireworks explode.
An electric match is a device that is used to ignite fireworks using electrical current. Approximately one inch in length and ¼ inch round, these items usually consist of a small nickel-chromium wire with a pyrogen coating. An electrical current causes the nickel-chromium wire to heat up, igniting the pyrogen and starting the fuse. Typical manufacturers of these devices include Oxral and Davey Fire.Explosive
A substance or mixture which, when submitted to shock, friction, sparks, or flame, can undergo rapid decomposition with the production of a considerable quantity of heat and large volumes of gas.
A beautiful aerial effect that consists of glowing embers that tumble slowly in the air, flickering back and forth as they fall back to earth.Firecracker
A fireworks item containing flash powder and wrapped in paper with a fuse attached. When the fuse is lit, it burns down inside the paper until it reaches the flash powder. The deflagration of the flash powder results in a loud bang. Legal consumer firecrackers are limited to a maximum of 50 milligrams of flash powder.Firefly
A stroboscopic tail effect that consists of many distinct bright flashes of light.Fireworks
Devices designed to be burned or ignited in order to yield a visible and/or audio effect.
A large horizontal wheel that rotates quickly enough to rise into the air. Once it reaches its peak, it usually explodes or shoots flaming stars. Girandolas are rare, and are not considered consumer fireworks items. These are sometimes referred to as “flying saucers”. Girandolas are popular in Mexico and Malta.Glitter
A tail effect that contains flashes of light and small explosive bursts lasting several seconds.Go Getter
A self-propelled star that “swims” in the sky link a rocket without fins.Ground Item
Ground items are any item that is lit on the ground and does not shoot objects into the sky. This includes fountains, sparklers, snaps, snakes, pops, smoke balls, and other items.
A term for a device that spins very fast and lifts high into the sky, only to explode or burst into a special aerial effect. These are also called planes, sky flyers or UFOs.High Explosives
High explosives are extraordinarily powerful substances that can release large amounts of energy and heat. They can be detonated by a sufficiently large mechanical or explosive shock, and generally require the use of an initiator to start the detonation. Examples of high explosives include TNT, nitroglycerine, RDX and PETN. High explosives are not used in fireworks
Illegal fireworks include any firecracker with more than 50 milligrams of flash powder, such as the original 1960’s version of the M80, cherry bomb, silver salute, or quarter stick. Consumer fireworks also may not contain any chlorates, red phosphorus, high explosives, more than 130 milligrams of flash powder in an aerial report, or more than 500 grams of total composition.Initiator
A device containing primary explosives that is used to initiate quantities of high explosives. These are not fireworks.
Similar in appearance to a firecracker, jumping jacks spin rapidly and emit red and green sparks.
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A tube of pyrotechnic composition, usually five inches long, that burns for one minute. Lances come in various colors are used in set pieces for fireworks events. See the definition of set piece below.Low Explosives
These are explosives that burn at a steady speed and can only be detonated under extreme circumstances (if at all). Low explosives are generally used as propellants, and are seldom used in demolition work. Examples of low explosives are black powder and fireworks.
The original M80 was a military simulator that was sold as a firecracker. M80s are red in color, one and one-half inches long, 5/8 of an inch in diameter, with a green waterproof fuse sticking out the side. It contained two grams of flash powder and was responsible for hundreds of serious injuries due to its powerful blast. These items were banned by the CPSC in 1966, and made illegal by the BATF (now ATFE) in the 1970’s. Legal M80’s today contain 50 milligrams of flash powder, which is about 1/40th of the original M80. Illegal M80’s sometimes contain compositions that are sensitive to shock and can injure of kill people. If you like having full use of your fingers, hands, and eyes, don’t mess with illegal M80’s.Mine
An aerial device that shoot stars into the sky in an upward spray pattern.Missile
In fireworks, a missile is a sky rocket that does not have a stick for guidance. Instead, it may rotate to give it some stability as it lifts off, or may be shot from a tube (like Saturn Missile Batteries).Mortar
A mortar is a paper or HDPE tube containing a shell with a long fuse. The shell has a lift charge on the bottom that helps propel it into the air. Once in the air, the shell explodes open and release stars and other effects that streak the sky with various designs. Most display fireworks are shot from mortars.
An abbreviation for the National Fire Protection Association. The NFPA is responsible for setting uniform national standards for fireworks use, manufacture transportation, and storage. NFPA 1122 sets standards for Model Rocketry. NFPA 1123 sets standards for using display fireworks. NFPA 1124 sets standards for manufacturing and transporting fireworks. NFPA 1125 sets standards for manufacturing model rockets. NFPA 1126 sets standards for the use of proximate (indoor) fireworks. NFPA 1127 sets standards for the hobby of high-power rocketry.Novelty
Fireworks items that are limited in their potential to harm people and property, such as snaps, snakes, poppers, and sometimes sparklers.
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Aerial effect that produces a gold or silver stem as the shell rises into the sky (known as a rising tail), followed by a brocade or willow effect that creates palm fronds. It resembles a gold or silver palm tree in the sky.Parachute
Paper projectile that is expelled from a mortar tube either as a single-shot item, or as a multi-shot effect in a cake.Peony
Aerial effect that looks like a spherical ball of colored lights in the sky. A very common aerial effect on most fireworks displays.Perchlorates
A common oxidizer used in fireworks manufacture. With a few exceptions, perchlorates are preferred over chlorates because their compounds are generally less sensitive to shock.
The original quarter sticks were similar to M80’s, but were larger in size and contained 10 grams or more of flash powder. Quarter sticks were silver in color, four inches long, one inch in diameter, with a four inch green waterproof fuse sticking out the side. These items were so powerful that they could dismember and kill people who misused them. Quarter sticks were banned by the CPSC in 1966, and made illegal by the BATF (now ATFE) in the 1970’s. Legal quarter sticks today contain 50 milligrams of flash powder, which is about 1/200th of the original quarter stick. Illegal quarter sticks can contain compositions that are extremely sensitive to shock and can injure of kill without warning. The ATFE imprisons people that are caught with illegal quarter sticks.Quick Match
Quick match is a type of fuse that is used to light commercial fireworks. It consists of black match that is wrapped loosely in a paper pipe, approximately 3/8 on an inch in diameter. While black match burns at a rate of one inch per second in the open air, quick match burns at a rate of approximately sixty feet per second (very fast). See the definition of black match (above) for more information.
A reloadable aerial is an aerial mortar that includes one or more mortar tubes and several reloadable aerial shells. The shells are placed inside the mortar tube, a long quick-burning fuse is lit, and the item is fired into the sky. These items are consumer versions of the mortar-based fireworks used in commercial fireworks displays.Repeater
Sometimes referred to as “cakes” or “multi-shot aerials”, a repeater is a cluster of aerial tubes with a single fuse. The name “cake” was attributed to these because the cluster of tubes looks similar to a cake in size and shape. Once the fuse is lit, each of the tubes is fired in sequence. Cakes can have a variety of intricate aerial effects, including spinners, fish, flower bouquets, comets, crossettes, reports, and other aerial effects. Cakes are the most popular consumer fireworks items outside of sparklers and firecrackers.Report
A report is another name for a loud noise or bang. Items with reports explode with a bang. This term is most often used with rockets and cakes.Ring Shell
A shell that produces a ring as its aerial pattern. See also Saturn shell.
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This is a term for fireworks that do not have aerial effects or explode. Items that are classified as Safe and Sane include sparklers, snaps, smoke balls, fountains, snakes, and in some cases wheels. Items that are not classified as Safe and Sane include firecrackers, rockets, and cakes. Some states restrict legal fireworks to Safe and Sane items only.Salute
A salute is an item that explodes. This term is most frequently used in regard to aerial items, although some people refer to firecrackers as “ground salutes.” When a salute explodes, it is referred to as a report.Saturn Shell
A shell that produces a ring around an inside ball of stars. The Saturn shell is a combination of a peony with a ring around it.Serpent
Another name for a tourbillion. A serpent is a type of star that spins in the sky and gives off large quantities of gold, silver, or white light. These are generally constructed as a small paper tube with holes on each end that allow it to spin.
A burning trail that follows a star in the sky. Most comets have tails, and so do willow and brocade effects.Titanium Salute
An aerial salute that produces white sparks along with a loud report. Titanium is frequently used in fireworks to produce bright silver-white sparks.Tourbillion
Also known as a serpent, a tourbillion is a type of star that spins in the sky and gives off large quantities of gold, silver, or white light. These are generally constructed as a small paper tube with holes on each end that allow it to spin.Tube
A tube is another name for a mortar.
A term for a device that spins very fast and lifts high into the sky, bursting into a special aerial effect. These are also called helicopters, planes, or sky flyers.
Visco is a type of rugged waterproof fuse that is used to light fireworks. Most visco fuse is green in color, but is available in almost any color. Because visco fuse is known to spit fire when it is lit, you should never light visco directly with a match or anything that would put your fingers in close proximity to the fuse. Instead, visco should be lit with a propane torch, a road flare, or a long punk.
A wheel is a stationary device that spins and creates a circular ring of fire and sparks. These are generally nailed to a pole or a tree before they are lit. You should always be careful to make sure the area is free from flammable debris before you light a wheel, as the sparks can carry ten feet or more.Whistle
Whistles are generally small paper tubes filled with a composition that makes a sharp howling sound. Whistles can be found in rockets, fountains, cakes.Wholesale Fireworks
Fireworks that are sold by the case. You can generally save 20 percent or more by purchasing fireworks by the case.Willow
An aerial effect that looks like a giant gold willow tree in the sky. A true willow effect has delicate golden trails that hang in the sky ten seconds or more.
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