Common Fireworks Materials

November 4, 2010

                    Oxidizing Agents

  English Name Molecular Formula
Potassium  Nitrate KNO3
Potassium  permanganate KCIO4
Potassium  Chlorate KCIO3
Potassium  Chlorate Ba(CIO3)2
Barium Nitrate Ba(NO3)2
Strontium Nitrate Sr(NO3)2
Sodium Nitrate NaNO3
Ammonium per chlorate NH4CIO4
Potassium Dichromate K2Cr2O7
Potassium permanganate KMnO4
Barium peroxide BaO2
Iron Oxides Fe3O4
Copper Oxides CuO
Lead Oxides Pb3O4



English Name Molecular Formula
Aluminum Al
Magnesium Mg
Magnalium Mg Al
Sulfur S
Phosphor P
Antimony Trisulphide Sb2s3
Arsenic Sulphide Realgar AsS
Orpiment As2s3
English name Molecular formula
Iron Fe
Hexamine (CH2)6N4
Nitro cotton (C6H7O2(NO2)(OH)3)n
Charcoal C
Lactose (C12H24O12)
Dextrin (C6H10O5)n.H2O
Tungsten W
Nickel Ni
Molybdenum Mo
Manganese Mn
Silicon Si
Vanadium V
Chrome Cr
Zirconium Zr
Boron B
Silicon-iron Fesi
Zinc Zn
Hexachlorobenzene C6CI6


                       Special Effects Materials

English Name Molecular Formula
Potassium Per chlorate KCIO4
Potassium chlorate KCIO3
Potassium picrate C6H2(NO2)3OK
Gallic Acid C7H6O5.H2O
Hexachloroethane C2CI6
sulphur S
Realgar AsS
Authracene C14H10
Naphthalene C10H8


                   Binding Agents

English name Molecular formula
Shell-lac C16H24O5
Phenolic Alde Hyde C48H42O7
Polyvingl chloride (CH2-CHOH)12
Colophony C20H30O2
Starch (C6H10O5)n
Lactose C12H24012
Dextrin (C6H10O5)N.H2O
Glutin (CH2-NH-CO)n


                 Catalytic Agents

English name Molecular formula
Manganese Dioxide MnO2
Boracic Acid H3BO3
Zinc Oxide ZNO
Alcohol C2H5OH
Vegetable Oil C16H26O2
Paraftin Wax  
Stearic Acid C17H35COOH


                        Color Producing Agents

English Name Molecular Formula
Sodium Oxalate Na2C2O4
Ultramarine Na2S2.3NaAISiO4
Cryolite-Greenland Spar Na2SiF6
Cryolite Greenland Spar Na3AIF6
Sodium Carbonate Na2CO3
Baking Soda Na2HCO3
Sodium Chloride NaCI
Sodium Nitrate NaNO3
Barium Carbonate BaCO3
Barium Nitrate Ba(NO3)2
Strontium Nitrate Sr(NO3)2
Strontium Carbonate SrCO3
Strontium Oxalate SrC2O4.H2o
Copper Acetoarsenite

(Paris Green)

Copper Arsenite CuHAsQ3
Bluestone CuSO4.5H2O
Copper Cu
Basic copper carbonate Cu2(OH)2CO3
Calcium carbonate CaCO3

The Fireworks Display for the Wedding Ceremony

November 4, 2010

That night after dinner, there was to be the promised fireworks display. Afei seemed to have made himself the sponsor and exponent of this display. He talked about in the whole day and watched the pyrotechnics set up the high pole on the west of the house near the temple ground. Ti was thought that the orchard at the back was too small and too full of trees which would obstruct the view, and Malan’s father wanted this to be a show for the whole neighborhood. The wedding was well known , and rumors about the special fireworks had gone about, so that at seven o’ clock the alleys all round were jammed with people, and some even sat perched on the temple wall.

   The series of different fireworks were arranged on horizontal bars like sail yards extending from a wooden pole about twenty feet high. The fuses were so timed and connected that once the first spark was set the scenes followed one another automatically. Before the display started, it looked like a number of packages of paper and folded bamboo frames suspended on the yards; yet these had to be so arranged and protected from sparks that they should not catch fire and burn before their time. At the  top of the pole was a fairy stork, which started the show by emitting from its mouth a flame which shot high into the sky and then with an explosion broke into a cascade of falling stars of gold and purple. Then followed nine successive shooting rockets, which were called “nine dragons entering the clouds.”

   “this is not the best,” said A fei. “ there is the rotating monkey to come nest.”

True it was, for suddenly there sprang up from one of the bamboo frames the shape of a red monkey lighted from within and whizzing around by the force of its backfire, spreading from its buttocks a circle of hissing sparks,  so that the faces of the women and children standing near the pole were suddenly lighted.

“that’s the monkey passing urine!” cried Afei triumphantly.

Next a great green watermelon burst open, scattering sparks and making a succession of small explosions. Red jade put her hands over her ears in fear, and Afei said, “that is nothing to be afraid of . Afei seemed to have memorized the whole sequence. When the last cinders from the watermelon were dying out, out dropped indeed a cluster of purple and white grapes, suddenly brightening the scene with a silent glow. Everybody gasped and enjoyed the beauty, watching the resinous stuff gradually burning out and dropping to the ground.

After this came the “dropping peaches” and a rotating wheel turning by its own force on the rocket principle, and then came the most beautiful scene of all. All of a sudden a seven-storied paper pagoda five feet long sprang from its frame and hung down, every story lighted from within. Two or three silent scenes followed, which spread thick clouds of colored smoke. Then came the “quick-opening lotus” and the “slow-opening lotus”. Then “darting mice” were let loose in mid-air in the form of small colored flames which fell to the ground darting and wriggling in all directions and creating great excitement in the inner circle before they died away. After these came various lighted tableaus such as “Eight Fairies Holding the Longevity peach” and “seven saints subduing the demon”, with the red demon burning up in smoke. There were pastoral scenes and scenes of houseboats and vermilion towers with ladies sitting in them. The display ended with “three successive promotions” in the form of a great rocket which gave out three successive explosions high in the air. When this was finished, the crowd went away, regretting that the end came so soon.

Fireworks Safety And Transportation

November 3, 2010

Mush current legislation is based on concepts derived from the United Nations recommendations for the Transport of Dangerous Goods (often referred to as the “orange book”). Although these recommendations are not mandatory, they are widely accepted and fairly widely understood. The fundamental problem with using the recommendations for general legislation is that they address only the hazard of materials in their state for transport. For fireworks theist usually means packaged, and does not (and indeed cannot and should not) address their storage, use or manufacture. It is in these areas that legislation based on the UN scheme of classification of dangerous goods breaks down.

The UN recommendations classify all explosives in one of the following groups:

1 .  Those packages that pose a mass explosion hazard.

2 .  Those packages that pose a projectile hazard.

3 .  Those packages that pose a hazard from fiery projections.

4 .  Those packages that pose only a limited hazard.

5 .  Extremely insensitive substances that pose a mass explosion hazard.

6 .  Articles containing extremely insensitive substances that do not have a mass explosion hazard.

   Furthermore, the united nations assigns a compatibility group to packaged goods, and defines which compatibility groups may be packaged or transported together. The result of testing assigns any item to a particular hazard group, and compatibility group, and the item as presented is then assigned a four digit UN number, which identifies both the hazard of a particular packaged item and its correct shipping name. thus all fireworks are assigned one of the following UN number:

0333 ( 1.1G ) Fireworks that pose a mass explosion risk.

0334 ( 1.2G ) Fireworks that pose a projectile risk.

0335 ( 1.3G ) Fireworks that pose a fiery projectile risk.

0336 ( 1.4G ) Fireworks that pose a low risk.

0337 ( 1.4S ) Fireworks that pose a very limited risk.

    It is essential to understand that the assignment of a particular firework package into one of the five groups above is critically dependent on the packaging of that item.

Table 11.1 shows a hypothetical example on how 75mm maroon (salute) shells could be assigned to any of the five UN numbers if packaged in particular ways.

                   Table 11.1

  UN Hazard   Packaging    Comments
1.1   G (0333) Say 75 X maroons in an extremely strong walled box. There is the possibility of sympathetic

Detonation in this case.

1.2 G (0334) Say 75 X maroons in a metal

“ammunition box”

It is possible that the explosive fragmentation

Of the box will lead to metallic fragments of

Sufficient size and energy to force assignment

Into this hazard class.

1.3 G (0335) Say 75X maroons in a

Fiberboard box.

In this case it is possible that the action of one maroon bursting will project fragments of the other maroons in such a way as to cause assignment into this hazard class.
1.4 G (0336) A single maroon in a

Fiberboard box

In this case the hazard will be very local to

The box.

1.4 S (0337) A single maroon in an

“elephant” sized box.

With a large enough box the effect of the maroon busting will be confined within the box itself, thus leading to assignment into this hazard class.

In general most fireworks fall into either the 1.3G (0335) or 1.4G (0336) classifications.

Table 11.1 shows that it is pointless to try to define which fireworks are suitable for consumer use by using hazard classifications.  Although it is undoubtedly true that more powerful fireworks are likely to have greater classifications (e.g. 1.3G rather than 1.4G), careful packaging can reduce the hazard. Indeed, there are several ongoing trials which attempt to legitimately classify even large shells as 1.4G by using wire-mesh lined fiberboard boxes.

In addition, the UN recommendations define, in the most general terms, the types of packaging that are suitable for the carriage of all dangerous goods, and explosives and fireworks in particular. This leads to the assignment of a UN mark (not to be confused with the UN hazard code) to a particular package that has been tested to be suitable for transport of a particular item of combination of items.

This may appear to be a classic “chicken and egg” paradox. You need to have a suitable package, that is certified to bold a particular hazard type, in which to test the item to assign it that hazard type. Fortunately, most regulatory authorities have agreed methods by which this paradox may be overcome.

The basis of the UN recommendations for fireworks is that if packaged in a suitable way, the hazards arising from accidental ignition of a package are reasonably well defined and understood. Theist is particularly important for the emergency services in case of an accident. They need to be able to assess the frisk of attempting to control the incident.

Fireworks And Liuyang

November 2, 2010

The history of fireworks production in liuyang spans more than 1300 years. It goes like this “the earliest fireworks came into being in the tang dynasty(7th~10th century),and Chinese fireworks manufacture began to flourish during the song dynasty; its birthplace is liuyang” in 1980 liuyang was named the “ home of fireworks” by china’s central government. With its excellent technology and advanced line of production, liuyang fireworks are well-known at home and abroad.

    Liuyang fireworks have received many quality awards in china, as well as in many international product competitions, including the following:

In 1929, the first place in the Chinese national goods exhibition.

In 1933, the Quality Award at the Chicago international fair.

In 1985, the “red lantern” shell got the gold Award in the Chinese products Quality competition.

In 1986, the first place at the 21st Monaco international fireworks display competition.

In 1988, the Chinese manufacturing and Art Flower Award, the Gold A ward at the Chinese light products fair, and the Quality award of the Chinese manufacturing and art flower award.

In 1990, the Chinese Manufacturing and Art Flower Awards.

In 1991, the Quality Award of the Foreign Trade Department.

In 1992, the Gold Medal at the Macao international Fireworks Display Competition.

In 1996, the Gold Medal at the 9th Macao International fireworks display competition.

In the 24 years since 1979, when the policy reformation and the opening up of  china to foreign trade was implemented, liuyang has achieved a great leap forward in industry and trade relations with the international business community. Moreover, china’s entry into the WTO and Beijing’s successful bid to host the 2008 Olympic games have brought still greater prospects to liuyang fireworks.

Looking back upon our past, we feel very proud. In these 24 years of reformation and greater openness, we have made contributions to society not only in material wealth but also in spiritual civilization. In this period, liuyang fireworks enterprises have created an accumulated profits and generated tax yields of 10 billion yuan, nearly 20 times that of the 30 years before 1979. During this time, the liuyang fireworks industry has also won numerous awards in many competitions at national and international level.

Looking to the future, we have tremendous confidence in the continued success of the liuyang fireworks industry. We believe that the brilliant past of liuyang fireworks will usher in an equally bright future. Firstly, we are producing famous fireworks with a long, 1300-year history, which means that we have a built-in advantage in the competitive quality market. Secondly, we are supported by a determined local government working hard to promote our industry abroad, and by a dedicated, motivated, well educated, creative and conscientious workforce. Therefore, we believe with good reason that, despite the intense international competition, the liuyang fireworks industry will continue to successfully ride the huge tide of the global economy into a brilliant future.

We warmly welcome friends from all walks of life, both at home and abroad, to liuyang, the home of fireworks.

Fireworks Business Talk

November 1, 2010

Gao Ming and Mr. Johnson had a lot of phone calls and emails in the past half year. Gao Ming tried his best to introduce Liuyang Fireworks to Mr. Johnson, the executive manager of Flyflower Fireworks company. Now Mr. Johnson has some interest in establishing into business relations with Gao Ming’s company and he makes a decision to come to liuyang and visit the company and see the products. Gao Ming picked Mr. Johnson up at Huanghua Airport and they were on their way to liuyang.

The following is their dialogue;

Johnson:    Gao Ming, I once heard from my friend and read from a book that Chinese fireworks have a long history, but the fact is that I don’t know much about them except that they have the best quality and the longest volume of production in the world. Could you kindly tell me something about them?

Gao Ming:  OK, I do not know much a bout the history of Chinese fireworks, so I can only tell you what I know. The earliest fireworks in china came into being in the period of the tang dynasty. The manufacture of Chinese fireworks began to flourish during the song dynasty. In liuyang, we have honor li tian as the “forerunner of fireworks”.  Because he found a method of making fireworks. Firecrackers were used in early times, just as they are now, to scare a way evil spirits from wedding and birth celebrations and from funerals, and they were also much in evidence at various religious festivals. These firecrackers were often made by packing gunpowder into bamboo cases or rolled tubes, so laying the foundations of modern firework manufacture. They exploded when thrown on to the fire, hence the origin of the name “firecracker”. An encyclopaedia dated around 1630, refers to “fire trees and silver trees” used in the tang dynasty (7th~10th centuries).

Johnson:  thank you so much, Gao Ming! You are really a fireworks specialist.

                                  At the Hotel

         One hour later, they arrived at Grandson city resort (the best botel in liuyang).

Gao Ming:  Here we are! Look over there that’s the liuyang river, a well-known river ,and the subject of a bousehold-song. Let’s take the luggage to room 1108.

Johnson:    OK, let’s go.

Gao Ming:   would you like to take a rest now? we’ll have supper in the dining room. How about at 5:30?

Johnson:   OK, see you later!

Gao Ming:  Aright, bye!

                            At the table

Gao Ming:   Dinner is ready. Shall we go into the dining room? This way, please.

Johnson:     Thank you

Gao Ming:   Mr. Johnson, would you like to take this seat?

Johnson:    OK, thanks.

Gao Ming:   Well, this drink is liuyang he, it is named after our well-known river-the liuyang river.

Johnson:     I believe that’s the way many famous liquors and wines are named.

Gao Ming:   this is roast duck, and this is sweet and sour fish.

Johnson:     Thank you, Gao Ming. What a feast you’re giving me!

Gao Ming:   Listen! (Bang!) The fireworks display is starting. In front of the hotel, you can enjoy different fireworks displays almost every night. There are many fireworks factories in liuyang and they often display their products’ effects. Shall we go out and enjoy it?

Johnson:     OK!

      (6 months later Mr. Johnson returns to liuyang, since the last time he visited he and Gao Ming have negotiated a business deal.)

                         A  Negotiation

Johnson:    Good morning, Gao Ming. Good to see you again.

Gao Ming:  It’s good to see you, too, Mr. Johnson. It’s been several months since we last saw each other. How have you been keeping?

Johnson:    Fine, thanks. And you ? How is Business?

Gao Ming:  Great! We’ve been doing extremely well. In fact America has become one of our best customers. We’ve increased our sales here ten-fold over the last year or so.

Johnson:    I’m pleased to hear it . I hope they keep growing.

Gao Ming:  One can never have too much success!

Johnson:    Now, to come to the point. We would like to increase our original order to 3 inch shells, but we are not sure which kind we want. Here is a list of our requirements.

Gao Ming:  (taking the list and looking at it) I’ve brought a series of catalogues on our latest models with me . all of them meet these requirements. Would you like to look over them?

Johnson:    I certainly would. Helping yourself to tea and cigarettes while I leaf through them.

Gao Ming:   Thank you.

Johnson:    ( A fter several minutes of looking through the catalogues) This is the one we’re interested in. Could you give me an idea of your price?

Gao Ming:  here are our price lists. The quotations are all in US dollars net , FOB. I’m sure you’ll find our prices most competitive.

Johnson:    But these prices are higher than the ones you quoted 6 months ago!

Gao Ming:  I’m sure you’ll appreciate that the costs of production have gone up considerably recently. Our prices still compare very favorably with those offered by other fireworks companies.

Johnson:    I must tell you that your price is higher than some of the quotations we have received elsewhere.

Gao Ming:  that may well be so. But everybody in the fireworks trade knows that our products are of top quality and incorporate the most advanced technology.

Johnson:   I grant that they are of the best quality, but we simply cannot order them at this price.

Gao Ming:  well, considering that you are ordering three thousand cartons, we could reduce our price by say, -2%

Johnson:    When I say your prices are  too high, I don’t mean they are too high merely by 2%.

Gao Ming:  What kind of a reduction did you have in mind then?

Johnson:    If we are to place an order with you I think a discount of about 10% would be sufficient.

Gao Ming:  10%! That’s out of the question! You can’t expect us to make such a large reduction.

Johnson:   in that case there is no need for further discussions. We might as well call the whole deal off.

Gao Ming:  let’s not be hasty, Mr. Johnson. Perhaps it’s unwise for either of us to insist on his own price. How about meeting each other half way?

Johnson:   what exactly do you propose?

Gao Ming:   I propose a reduction of 4%

Johnson:    that is hardly half way, Mr. Gao! Let’s both make a further concession-6%

Gao Ming:  You certainly drive a hard bargain, Dr. Johnson. But I’m afraid 5% is our rock bottom price.

Johnson:    very well, then 5% it is.

Fireworks Standards(British)

October 29, 2010

     British standard

     In 1988 there was published in the UK a British Standard(number 7114(72))which defines the performance and labeling requirements for those items considered safe for use by the general public in the UK.The standard itself is in 3 parts:

     Part 1 – Classification of fireworks

     Part 2 – Specification for fireworks

     Part 3 – Methods of test for fireworks

     Table 8.1 shows the standard 3 categories of fireworks suitable for use by the general public.

                          Table 8.1 British Standard

Category Definition Fireworks General Requirements
1 Fireworks suitable for use

Inside domestic buildings

(generally)known as indoor



Smoke devices,

Party poppers,

Table bomb,

Throw down,

Novelty match,

Non-hand-held sparkler,

Hand-held sparkler,

Cracker snap,


Performance must comply

 With the standard

(diverse-depending on


Correct labeling for each ]


Item specific details are maximum weight.

In general(except sparklers)

No items should be


Batch testing of

Construction, labeling

And performance.

2 Fireworks suitable for

Outdoor use in relatively

Confined areas(generally)

Known as garden




Roman candle,




Non-hand-held sparkler,



No lit debris outside 3m,

Below 3m

(recommended viewing

Distance 5m).

Fuse time between 3 and 13


Correct labeling for each


Item specific details are

Maximum weight, caliber


In general(except sparklers)

No items should be hand-held.

Batch testing of

Construction, labeling and


3 Fireworks suitable for

Outdoor use in large open

Spaces(generally known as

Display fireworks)



Roman candle,




Non-hand-held sparkler,




No lit debris outside 20m

Below 3m(minimum

Viewing distance 25m).

Fuse time between 5 and 15 seconds.

Correct labeling for each item.

Item specific details are

Maximum weight, caliber


Batch testing of

Construction, labeling

And performance.



   In this manner, for instance, fountains without the correct fusing or labeling are deemed Category 4,even though their performance is very limited it is incorrect to assume that all category 4 fireworks are by”definition”larger,more powerful items than would be permitted for sale to the general public.Fireworks that do not conform to the requirements of categories 1,2 or 3 are deemed to be category 4 and thus unsuitable for sale to the public.

   Each”batch”of fireworks needs to be tested for compliance with the standard. A sample(the number is determined according to BS 6001)is tested for both performance and construction criteria.If the sample fails then whole batch in deemed to have failed and must be re-tested prior to sale to the general public.

   The British standard has undergone some modification since 1988.And in 1966 certain items were banned from sale to the general public even though they meet the requirements of the standard as a result of the firework safety regulations.

Fireworks Display

October 28, 2010

The modern display often has to perform to audiences of much greater size than those of the past, which also can restrict choices in the use of some types of firework.

Perhaps the biggest factor in shaping our modern displays has been time. Despite an ever greater increase in facilities designed to make better use of time and cut the length of  time needed to achieve various tasks, it seems to become an ever more precious commodity. The majority of our displays are now rigged and fired on the same day. The majority of the fusing and preparation takes place in the factory, long before the display site is ever reached, leaving only the final assembly and placing of roman barrages and racks of mortars into their positions on the display site itself. Gone are the days when marquees would be erected on site, and great teams of men would spend several days in preparation. Even a relatively large show can now be prepared by just two or three men in a day. Certainly the electrical firing of displays helps, but even now it may come as a surprise to some that we still fire smaller shows by hand.

It is always possible to elevate people’s feelings to great heights in a show, but very difficult to keep them there, which is why this variety in effect is so important.

Perhaps the greatest trend of recent years has been the introduction of the pyromusical, which offers many advantages and adds an extra dimension to the show. When attempting to play with the play with the audiences’ emotions, much can be gained with the addition of music.

Traditionally, firework displays were preformed by the manufacturers of fireworks themselves. Clearly it is not the case today, as by far and away the majority of “firework companies” to be found in the telephone book have never even added a lifting charge to a shell. Since the majority of advancement in the firework world has been in the display side of the business, it can be argued that the displaying of fireworks is now an entirely separate skill.

The majority of firework displays around the world were traditionally linked to religious festivals.

The basic principle of performing a mascleta display has remained unchanged through the years. It is born through a combination of sounds through time, attempting to keep a distinctive rhythm. The show itself can be split into three sections; the beginning, main body and the end.


Traditionally, the beginning consisted of at least ten aerial maroons to mark the start of the display. In modern times smoke whistles and bummers have also been added.

                       Main body

The main body consists principally of ground based elements of the show, the long strings of mascleta held on wires at head height, allowing their sound to reverberate of the floor. The fast tempo gradually increases to the “traca final” or “earthquake.”


Coinciding with the effects of the main body of the show, the display heads to the air again, with a series of explosions which are of greater frequency than those on the ground. The frequency gradually slows, but as it does the power of the explosion increases, until the deafening finale.

The following is fireworks display program for the opening ceremony at the first international forum on fireworks safety and quality and the 5th china liu yang international fireworks festival.

                          Fireworks Display Program

                   Part one : A gun salute to our guests

Five streams of shooting stars flowing in the sky, a series of large Chinese characters “the fifth international firecrackers festival opening ceremony” shown before your eyes. A large colorful fireworks earth moves around slowly to welcome to the guests from the world and brings us joy.

                 Part two: meeting in liu yang

In the sky, accompanied by the cheerful music of liu yang river, we will find a group of golden Chinese characters “welcome to liu yang ,chine, home of fireworks.” Then, followed by “waterfalls” flowing, “fountains” waving up, “tiger tails” dancing, “potted flowers” sprouting. The colorful sky reverberates the laughers of liu yang people whose minds are opening to the world.

                  Part three: A glory sky

Soul-striving thunders strike the instant silence, salute after salute, golden, silver, green, purple, a multitude of shells color the sky.

                Part four: red lantern congratulation

Thousands of red lantern drift with the tide. Thousands of lotus flowers are floating in the sky. The colorful lanterns like stars twinkling in the far sky create a warm and joyous festival atmosphere.

                 Part five: an oasis night song

The oasis gushes out in the sky. Green flowers, green waves, green lights leap up to a vigorous and evergreen life.

                 Part six: golden October

Firing wheels flying and rolling, golden snakes dancing crazily, orchids sprouting red flowers, rice waves fooling on, all these beautify the night sky and spread the harvest of happiness and joy.

                 Part seven: An unforgettable night

Salvoes and fireworks spread happiness. Various fireworks look like flowers in the garden. Time stops, happiness and friendship will linger us forever.

Fireworks Products And Effects (II)

October 27, 2010

                               Flying pigeon

The line rocket or flying pigeon is a very popular item at firework displays and frequently consists of a wooden block with a hole through the center so that it can slide along a tightly stretched rope or wire. Four 16mm rockets are fixed to the block and,in addition,there are four fierce drivers attached to a small hoop fixed on the block.

Smaller pigeon type fireworks,called rats,consist of very fierce drivers which follow each other down the wire.They are charged with a mixture of gunpowder and iron and the tubes are about 12mm in diameter.


The greatest skill of firework maker can be exhibited in the manufacture of star shells,or “bombs”as they frequently called. Shells are produced in huge quantities every year but the quality varies from,at one extreme,the most ordinary types,which literally drop the stars into the sky in a disorderly heap, to the magnificent pattern shells at the other extreme.

The shell maker thus has the choice of three methods of bursting round shells:

  1. Employ a small gunpowder charge and a weak exterior wall to obtain the bouquet effect.
  2. Employ a much fiercer bursting charge and a comparatively weak shell wall in order to obtain an even burst. The use of a fierce bursting charge involves the risk of destroying the stars or causing ignition failures.Flash powder is sometimes used for this purpose but there are many drawbacks and dangers to the technique.
  3. Employ a very strong outside shell wall and use a comparatively slow expanding bursting charge.

Round shells are used in various sizes.The smallest being made to fit a 50mm diameter tube and the largest 100mm.the most common sizes are 75mm,100mm,125mm,150mm and 200mm,these being fairly universal. 300mm and 400mm shells are sometimes manufactured but it is a byword among firework makers that their effect is frequently no better than a 150mm or 200mm shell.

In recent years plastic ball shells have become very common,the molded plastic being made in such a way that the delay and lifting charge are all built into the same unit.They are cheaper and easier to fill,though in some respects paper seems to be superior.

After the shell has been filled with stars and blowing,the fuse is carefully glued into place,but care must be taken to see that the fuse is secure or else it may be forced through into the shell by the lifting charge.


The French word”grebe”,meaning a spray or corn,is still used for firework fountains,particularly for those which produce force in choked tubes.A wide variety of fountains can be found within the firework range but generally speaking there are two basic types;those of the long narrow variety and the short squat fountains.The mixtures naturally vary immensely with the type of tube and method of filling.


Tubes for fountains are usually about 25cm long and from 12-25mm in diameter.There are also other sizes which are smaller or larger than the ones mentioned.The wall thickness is sufficient to prevent the fire bursting the side of the tube.

The old English”flower pot”is produced from a combination of red orpiment and lampblack.

Silver fountains are made with titanium or aluminum.Titanium is uncomplicated,but aluminum powder varies tremendously from one manufacturer to another.

Glitter and flitter garbs are modifications of the corresponding star mixes. Yellow glitter is made with sodium oxalate and white glitter is made barium carbonate or strontium oxalate.


Gold and silver rains consist of long narrow fountains of small bore which are fierce enough to produce a good show of sparks.The tubes are about 6mm to 9mm in diameter and from 7.5cm to 12.5cm long.As they are cheap items they are invariably dry rolled,being merely pasted at the edge of the paper. Tubs are charged with a funnel and wire or other means,but is should be pointed out that dry compositions containing more than a few percent of aluminum should not be used in a funnel and wire apparatus.

                  Flying squibs

In effect these were fierce little drivers,but they are no longer sold to the public because of their erratic and consequently dangerous behavior.Tough little tubes about 9mm diameter with a”pulled in”choke were firmly charged with a fierce driver composition of gun powder and charcoal.When ignited,they scurried along the ground and could be both amusing and irritating.


Cones have been included chapter because they are really fountains,though they are not usually charged very solidly.

Some cones are fitted with a washer inside the cone itself to give a secondary effect,but this is not common.

                        Chip Gerbs

Fountains and cones have always been made with micro stars which were made from either small pieces of colored star composition or silver granules’. These were mixed with a gold charcoal mix and,needless to say,stars made with chlorate were hazardous.There was also a second problem in that the stars often burnt out inside the tube before they reached the outside.

The nature of these micro stars is such that light after a short delay and this gives them time to get out of the tube. However, the compositions need to be lightly charged to avoid breaking the stars and to get fast clean burning.


There are several ways of making pinwheels,but good ones are not easy to manufacture.

Silver wheels can be made with gunpowder mixed with about 12% of bright aluminum powder.If the aluminum is too fast burning, explosion is likely,but if the aluminum is too slow,the wheel will not turn.These wheels are a problem,but the Germans make good ones.


English crackers are made in exactly the same way as pinwheels in that the grain gunpowder is poured over a bundle of pipes and then shaken down.The pipes are made of brow Kraft paper,dry rolled.Manufacturers vary in their tastes as to which type of grain to employ.

When the pipes full of grain they are rolled several times between heavy rollers so that the grain is crushed and the pipes ate flattened.

A rather cheap and less successful method of making crackers is to enclose a length of thick,good quality match in close fitting length of match pipe,and complete it in the usual way.

              Torpedoes,throw down crackers and amerces

These specialist items are outside the normal range of firework manufacture,for they employ impact sensitive materials which are very dangerous to handle.

Fireworks Products And Effects (I)

October 26, 2010

                         Colored Flames

Colored flames are made with almost the same compositions as those used for stars, except fuels which are used to make stars burn rapidly (   charcoal for example) are usually omitted. On the contrary it is usual in these items to add materials which will retard the burning rate. Colored fires. Torches and Bengal illuminations which are sold to the public are usually required to burn quite slowly. And normally have the burning rate reduced by adjusting the fuel. The use of coarsely ground materials, or the cutting down or increasing of the amount of fuel can have this effect, but it is also usual to add retardants such as sawdust, wood flour, starch or flour. The addition of these materials also makes the composition cheaper, of course, but care must be taken with materials such as wood meal since they can contain a good deal of water.

                   Bengal illuminations

This special type of flare candle is used for illuminating public buildings and is extensively used in Europe for castles which particularly lend themselves to this type of illumination. In order to fulfill the necessary conditions, the composition should produce maximum color, burn efficiently but as slowly  as  possible, (i.e.40 to 60 seconds per 25mm), and not emit too much smoke.

The candles are made in various sizes, but the large ones are about 60mm in diameter 30cm long and have a wall thickness of about 1.5mm. the end of the candle is fitted with a wooden plug and a screw eye for attachment to the holder. The candle is fixed so that it burns in a horizontal position, so that the dross will not run down the side of the thin wad accelerate the burning time. Lastly, the candle is placed behind some kind of shield so that the onlookers do not see it burning.


Large quantities of these items are manufactured every year for use in making set pieces, as fire pictures, mottos, all made with these little tubes of colored fire. Lances are usually 8mm or 10mm in diameter and about 10cm long. The paper is usually an 0.004 bond or poster paper cut up into pieces 95mmX125mm,and they are dry-tolled on a former which is countersunk at one end.

A funnel and wire are used to charge the composition, but the base of the funnel has a nozzle which goes about 10mm into the lance tube. In this way, the lances can be filled to within 10mm of the top. The nest operation is to add topping composition in a similar way, to a depth of 8mm.

                          Port fires

Port fires, which are used for lighting fireworks are exactly the same way as lances, except that the tube is usually longer and has a  slightly thicker tube. Port fires are normally 9mm inside diameter and a bout 38cm long. The paper for the 38cm size would be 18cm X 38cm. port fires usually burn three or four minutes, but they must not burn too slowly or they are apt to go out.


The general principle of formulation is to ensure that there is an excess of aluminum present. In order that the burning material will fall to the ground with the appropriate sparks. The tube is usually a wet rolled tube consisting of four or five a  0.010 Kraft paper on a 18mm-24mm former. The tube 15 to 30cm naturally must burn away with the composition or else the essential dross will not fall to the ground.

                     Roman Candles

There can be no doubt that it requires much practice to make really good roman candles, and the best ones are still made by hand. So many factors play a part in the performance of the candle with the inevitable result that there is always something to go wrong.

The best tubes are hand rolled and it is quite essential that the inside lap of paper is completely stuck down or else the powder will creep down the loose paper, cause a “blow-through” and eject stars like machine-gun bullets.

The quality of the paper of the tube is also quite important. A good quality Kraft paper, for example, rolled with good casein glue, provides a tough tube which hardly burns a way during the firing of the candle.

The fuse ideally should produce a good show of golden sparks, but this is not necessary, of course, and there is always a tendency to produce too much smoke as would be expected.


 Comets are single roman candle stars in their simplest form, but they are usually gunpowder type compositions since they are ejected at great speeds. The smaller comets of about 24mm in diameter can be adequately charged with a mallet, but the larger comets should be pressed in order to get greater consistency.

Effective comet bombs can be made by pressing a star in the bottom of a paper tube and then filling the remainder of the tube with stars or other effects. The result is a spiral of fire terminating in a star burst.


The ordinary mines are simply a charge of gunpowder and stars at the base of a strong tube which acts as a gun.

                    Flash and sound

Explosive fireworks more than anything else have been the cause of serious accidents and they have probably done more damage to the firework in dusty than anything else! Flash crackers in their various forms were on sale to the public for far too long and happily have been forbidden in many European countries.

Flash compositions of some types will cause explosions in the lightest of containers-even sometimes in just a few turns of paper-but it also happens that these compositions are extremely breast and sensitive. Horrifying mixtures of potassium chlorate, pyre aluminum, sculpture and barium nitrate have been employed and should be avoided at all costs.

These mixtures in themselves were very sensitive to impact and friction and a quantity of less than 1 gm could be quite devastating.


The oldest whistles were made with potassium pirate. Pirate whistles are very shrill and can be very entertaining in roman candles with their black tails.

Picric whistles are not popular with the firework mainly because no one cares to work with them. The salt stains the fingers and clothing a bright yellow, and the taste is bitter and unpleasant.

It is well known that picric acid and its salts are sensitive to impact and great care needs to be taken when charging potassium pirate.

                   Humming fireworks

Humming fireworks are constructed in a manner which will allow a jet of issue out of a tube at such a speed and at such an angle that the tube will be caused to rotate on its own axis. In the air this causes a humming noise.

The best hummers are made with a long steady stream of gas.


Rockets are one of the oldest pyrotechnic devices. All rockets, the smallest firework to the giant satellite carrying Saturn, have four basic components in common. They are:

A case or rocket motor;

A “choke” or Ventura;

A propellant charge;

A flight stabilizing device.

Rockets are reaction motors. On ignition, the propellant charge produces gas a high temperature and so internal pressure of the gases in the rocket body is raised. Rocket bodies or cases may be made from a variety of materials.

The “choke” or venture is an important part of the rocket. In firework rockets the “choke” is quite crude and is often formed by constricting case whilst it is damp.

The traditional propellant charge for firework rocket is either:


A mixture of mea led gunpowder and charcoal; 

A simple mixture of potassium nitrate, sculpture and charcoal;

A mixture of mea led gunpowder and calcium carbonate.

Charcoal is the most difficult ingredient to control.

Stabilization of firework rockets is achieved by means of a stick.


Wheels and moving fireworks are operated by rockets or more commonly by drivers. Drivers are stout tubes from 12mm to 40mm internal diameter, choked down to about 1/3 of a diameter and charged with a fierce composition containing a high percentage of gunpowder.

Small wheels are turned quite adequately with tubes which are 12mm or 16mm in diameter and a bout 100mm long.

The smaller drivers are used for a variety of different types wheels.

Large drivers are used for the bigger display wheels from 2-5 meters in diameter.


These fireworks are used in combination with a small color case to produce small colored wheels which are usually part of a larger design.

Thick walled tubes are charged with composition, but the tube is closed with clay at both ends, and the fire issues from a hole which is cut into the side of the tube at right angles to the axis of the tube.


The French word “tourbillion” or “whirl wind” is still used to describe these fireworks which have appeared in many forms and sizes. The older and larger forms were in effect a fierce type of Saxon which first of all spun around on the ground and then lifted up into the air by means of two or four boles bored in the underside.

The larger sizes are made with a tube which is approximately 24mm. diameter, 20cm. long and with thickness of 6mm.

Fireworks Materials (Ⅲ)

October 25, 2010

                       Lron, Fe

  There can be little doubt that iron has used in fireworks from the earliest times. Apart from the steel dust for the manufacture of sparklers, the best iron for fireworks is the ordinary iron borings which have been broken down to a rough powder which will pass 20 mesh. The long needle like fragments give the best effects.

                    Lron Oxides

   The black magnetic form, fe3o4 is used the r mite and incendiary compositions and the brown form fe2o3 has been used in first fires and ignition compositions where high temperatures are needed.

                    Lead Oxides

   The  red form,pb3o4 and the chocolate colored dioxide, pbo2 have been used in first fires and ignitions for military purposes, and  are potentially useful for fireworks also. Combined with magnesium, it is used for crackling micro stars.

                    Magnesium . Mg

On the other hand, it is indispensable in situations where it is essential to gain high candle power in signal flares.

                         Magnesium Mg/AL

  Magnesium is used in fireworks for a variety of purposed;

  1 . in coarse powder of about 30-50 mesh the metal produces a sharp crackling noise in colored flame fountains. The presence of  cryol It e seems to enhance this effect.

  2 . Dust free coarse powders produce pleasant sizzling effects in some stars.

  3 . The finer powders from 120 mesh onwards are used to enhance colored flames, produce some silver effects and to produce the newer blinker strobe effects. Come from magnesium burning with the nitrates of barium or strontium where the irrational burning can be varied with catalysts.

                             Paraffin Oil Compounds

Paraffin oil finds some use in fireworks and frequently performs more than one function at a time. When it is added to a colored fore mixture, for instance, not only does it help to reduce the influx of moisture and reduce the sensitivity, but it also makes the mixture easier to press. Normally about 1% used for these purposes.

Paraffin wax is usually used to coat metal powders or to waterproof finished fireworks, which are merely dipped in the molten wax.

              Potassium Chlorate, KCIO3

It is one of the most important chemicals used in the firework industry. This material is prepared by the electrolysis of potassium chloride solution, and is frequently imported into England from Spain and Switzer land. The sensitive nature of potassium chlorate is a problem to the firework manufacturer, particularly in the presence of sulphur , ammonium salts, and phosphorus, and none of these materials should be used with it.

                    Silicon, Si

 The material is only used in fireworks as an igniter in certain types of fireworks which needs a hot slag to initiate the reaction.

                    Sodium Nitrate, NaNO3

The crystals are readily soluble in water and melt at 308C. in combination with magnesium, it is useful for illuminating flares, but the stores have to be sealed so that they do not come into contact with the air.

                      Sodium Oxalate, Na2c2o4

There are two main uses for this substance. The first use is for the production of yellow colors in combination with potassium per chlorate and suitable fuels. The second use is the production of yellow glitter effects, with gunpowder, aluminum and antimony.

                   Stear Ine-Stear Ic Acid

The main use for this material is for adding it to some compositions which are somewhat sensitive to friction. It can also be used in those fireworks where  it is desirable to have along flame.


 Lactose,c12h11o11.h20 is sometimes used as a fuel in firework manufacture. Used in compositions which are required to react at low temperatures, it is of use in the manufacture of some blue colors. It also replaces sucrose, which is more sensitive with chlorates. Perhaps the most extensive use is in the manufacture of smokes using organic dyes.


It’s one of the most important fuels of the firework industry. It is a pale yellow, fairly dense powder, all of which should pass 120 mesh.

                     Titanium. Ti

The metal is easily ignited to produce brilliant silver sparks. It can be used in just the same way as iron powder, and has the advantage of not needing to be coated . like all new things it may have been overused, but no one regrets the absence of the dirtier old aluminum powders.

                 Titanium Dioxide. TiO2

This oxide is not much used by the firework industry, but occasionally features in some smoke compositions and is sometimes added to waterproof paints.

                 Zinc , Zn

Certain recipes in the old firework books included zinc, but little use is made of the finely powdered variety except in the manufacture of certain types of smokes. Zinc smokes are very efficient and very good, but they are somewhat sensitive to moisture and have been known to react and ignite themselves. Most schoolboys know that a mixture of zinc, ammonium nitrate and ammonium chloride will catch fire when a small amount of water is added to the powder.

                Zinc Oxide Z n O

The principal use for this material is also in the manufacture of smokes.