Aerial Bomb - Another term for an aerial shell
Aerial Firework - A device that functions in the air, such as a shell, roman candle, rocket, or repeater
Aerial Shell - A spherical or cylindrical firework fired using a mortar, the shell is propelled into the sky by a lift charge where it detonates igniting the effects contained in it's core.
Air Launching - A method of launching aerial shells using compressed air rather than a black powder lift charge. Shells are placed into a rotating turret that positions each tube into a firing point over an air valve. The resulting blast of air propels the shell into the sky wher timed computer chips built in to the shell trigger the burst charge at the correct altitude.
Assortment - A variety of fireworks sold in a box, coming in many different sizes, and usually including aerial repeaters, fountains, spinners, rockets, and firecrackers.
Atomic Pattern - A shell burst consisting of three circles on three different planes, which resembles the orbits of electrons around a nucleus
Bag Mine - A type of mine lacking a strong casing; consists of lift charge and stars within a sealed plastic bag
Bare Match - black match without any sort of covering or protection
Barrage - rapid-fire repetition of an aerial effect, such as roman candles
Battery - any group of fireworks fused together as one unit so that they will ignite all at once or in a short period of time, such as a missile battery or a roman candle battery.
Battle in the Clouds - a shell that creates several loud reports after bursting
Binder - substance used to hold certain pyrotechnic compositions together, such as stars
Black Body Radiation - when light is given off by a normally dark object. For example, the coals of a burning fire emit orange light, caused by the burning wood charcoal.
Black Match - a common type of fuse that consists of black powder impregnated in cotton string. It burns at about one inch per second, but can burn up to 100 feet per second if encased in a narrow paper tube (quick match)
Black Powder (gunpowder) - most common material used in fireworks; It is a low explosive consisting of potassium nitrate, sulphur, and charcoal (mostly carbon). Used to make sound, propel objects, make fuse, and used in other combinations to make a variety of different effects.
Black Shell (or blind shell) - a shell whose time fuse fails to ignite the bursting charge and falls back to earth without bursting. Sometimes the shell will be ignited by the impact of its landing, particularly if it has shock-sensitive chlorate mixtures inside. It could also be ignited by leftover sparks on the time fuse being thrust into the burst charge upon landing.
“Blown Blind” - when stars in a shell fail to ignite
Bombette - a very small shell that is used in roman candles and occasionally in large shells.
Bottle Rocket - a small rocket about the size of a standard firecracker, attached to a thin, 12" long stick for stabilization. Flies up (sometimes with a whistle) and ends in a firecracker-like report
Bottom-Fused - a method of shell construction where the time fuse enters the shell at the bottom and is ignited by the lift charge. Nearly all spherical shells, as well as most small cylindrical shells, are bottom fused.
Bottom Shot - a multi-break shell whose last shot is a salute.
Bounce - a black powder charge at the end of a fountain that creates a small explosion at the end of the device's performance.
Branching - sparks that split up into smaller sparks, which looks similar to a branch.
Break - a compartment of a shell containing effects. Multi-break shells contain many of these compartments which result in several bursts in the sky.
Brick - many bundled packs of firecrackers which resembles a red brick.
Brocade - a spider-like shell burst pattern. Generally has silver tail effect, and is brighter than willow or tiger tail-style bursts.
Burning - an exothermic oxidation/reduction reaction. Fireworks typically use oxygen-rich salts such as perchlorates, chlorates, or nitrates to rapidly oxidize fuels such as metals, gums, sulphur, or charcoal.
Burst - the release of effects into the air by an aerial device.
Burst Charge - a composition placed inside aerial shells which explodes at the shell's maximum altitude, bursting apart the casing and igniting / propelling the effects in a predisigned pattern. Commonly made of black powder (sometimes with whistle mix), but can also be made with potassium chlorate.
Cake - a repeating aerial firework consisting of many shots, named after its usual short, cake-like appearance. Cakes consist of a single fuse attached to several tubes (sometimes hundreds) which fire in sequence, launching a variety effects into the air, including comets, crossettes, whistles, reports, mines, spinners, and flying fish.
Caliber - refers to the inside diameter of a mortar or the size of a shell.
Candle - short term for roman candle.
Celebration Roll - a chain of hundreds or thousands of firecrackers traditionally used by the Chinese to frighten away bad spirits.
Cherry Bomb - an old cherry-sized salute filled with explosive flash powder and covered in a red sawdust/glue coating. Banned in the US since 1966 but still available in Thailand.
Choke - narrow portion of a fountain/rocket tube, usually made out of clay, that is used to increase internal pressure, which therefore increases the velocity of the products being ejected to create thrust.
Chrysanthemum - a dense, spherical burst of stars that retains its shape before fading. This is the most well-known type of firework shell break.
Comet - basically a large star that emits thick showers of bright sparks on the way up.
Composition - a mixture of pyrotechnic chemicals which contains a fuel, an oxidizer, and various other chemicals to produce colours and effects.
Consumer (1.4G) Fireworks - See Definition And Types Of Consumer Fireworks..
† ATF Definition; Consumer fireworks. Any small firework device designed to produce visible effects by combustion and which must comply with the construction, chemical composition, and labeling regulations of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, as set forth in title 16, Code of Federal Regulations, parts 1500 and 1507.
Some small devices designed to produce audible effects are included, such as whistling devices, ground devices containing 50 mg or less of explosive materials, and aerial devices containing 130 mg or less of explosive materials. Consumer fireworks are classified as fireworks UN0336, and UN0337 by the U.S. Department of Transportation at 49 CFR 172.101. This term does not include fused setpieces containing components which together exceed 50 mg of salute powder.
Continuity test - a test to find whether an electrical circuit works. It involves sending a small current through the igniters to see if the circuit is complete without actually igniting them.
Crackle - clusters of small, sharp reports.
Crossette - a comet that contains an internal burst charge of flash/black powder that causes it to burst into several fragments.
Crossmatch - technique used to ignite time fuse in shells. A piece of black match is threaded through a hole in the time fuse, so fire is transferred from the black match to the black powder core of the time fuse.
Cut Stars - cubical stars cut from damp pyrotechnic composition with a knife
Dahlia - a burst pattern similar to a peony, but with larger and fewer stars.
Dark Fire (dark prime) - a composition that emits almost no light as it burns, which can be applied between different colour layers of stars. The star will burn one colour, "burn out", then appear to ignite again in a different colour.
Daylight Shell - a shell designed to be fired during the day, which contains effects such as reports, smoke, and whistles.
Delay - a pyrotechnic composition that is used for timing between the ignition of firework elements, such as in a roman candle.
Decomposition - a chemical reaction in which a compound or mixture is converted into a more stable form, usually accompanied by the production of heat.
Deflagration - a rapid decomposition reaction which is accompanied by the evolution of light, heat, and large volumes of heated gas. The rapidly expanding gas produces sound waves in the air, which we perceive as an explosion. Fireworks and other low explosives function by deflagration.
Detonation - an exothermic chemical reaction in which the explosive decomposition of a substance forms an energy wave that propagates through the substance at supersonic speeds. High explosives such as TNT and dynamite detonate; fireworks do not.
Detonator - a small explosive used to set off high explosives. Not to be confused with firework electric igniters.
Display Fireworks - fireworks for professional use, also known by the DOT classification 1.3G or UN0335. Formerly known as "Class B" fireworks
† ATF Definition - Display fireworks. Large fireworks designed primarily to produce visible or audible effects by combustion, deflagration, or detonation. This term includes, but is not limited to, salutes containing more than 2 grains (130 mg) of explosive materials, aerial shells containing more than 40 grams of pyrotechnic compositions, and other display pieces which exceed the limits of explosive materials for classification as “consumer fireworks.”
Display fireworks are classified as fireworks UN0333, UN0334 or UN0335 by the U.S. Department of Transportation at 49 CFR 172.101. This term also includes fused setpieces containing components which together exceed 50 mg of salute powder.
Dragon Eggs - clusters of crackling sparks in the air.
Drivers - thrust-producing fountains used to propel devices such as rats and wheels.
Dross - molten waste product of combustion.
Dud - a firework that fails to ignite.
Electrical ignition - the ignition of a fireworks display by electrical means.
Electric Igniter (electric matches) - device used for the electrical ignition of fireworks. Consists of two lead wires connected to each other by a small filament of nickel-chromium (nichrome) wire coated with pyrogen. When current passes through the igniter, the nichrome filament heats up and ignites the pyrogen, which in turn lights the fuse. Often incorrectly called Squibs, which are electrical caps that detonate in order to set off high explosives.
Exothermic - a chemical reaction in which the total energy of the products is less than the total energy of the reactants. In other words, the system loses energy, which is given off in the form of heat and light. Firework reactions are exothermic.
Explosive - a substance that has the potential to undergo rapid chemical decomposition, producing light, heat, and large volumes of gas.
Fallout - debris such as scraps of cardboard, plastic, wood from rocket fins/sticks, ash, and leftover tubes that rain down over the ground after the performance of an aerial firework. Fallout can be a hazard to people and dry materials since the pieces are usually still hot or smoldering.
Fallout zone - a large, clear area where fallout or dud shells are expected to fall. Must be clear of any firing personnel, spectators, animals, buildings, dry grass, gasoline canisters, or any other flammable materials.
Finale - the last portion of a firework display. During a finale, the largest, loudest, and most exotic fireworks are ignited in huge quantities and in a short amount of time, creating an intense and beautiful display.
Fish - a type of aerial effect that looks like a swarm of glowing objects flying around randomly. The effect is created using small chunks of fast-burning fuse that actually propel themselves through the air when lit.
Firecracker - a small rolled paper tube containing flash powder, typically braided by their fuses into long strings. When the fuse is lit, the flame travels to the inside of the firecracker and ignites the powder, causing it to explode. In the United States, firecrackers can only contain 50 mg of flash powder.
Firework - a device that functions by combustion to create visible and audible effects for the purpose of entertainment. Fireworks are divided into two groups: those that can be bought by the public (Consumer Fireworks) and those that can only be used by professionals.
† ATF Definition; Any composition or device designed to produce a visible or an audible effect by combustion, deflagration, or detonation, and which meets the definition of “consumer fire- works” or “display fireworks” as defined by this section.
Firing current - the amount of current required to ignite an electrical igniter.
Flare - a long tube containing a pyrotechnic composition which burns slowly with a bright, coloured flame. Used mainly to warn motorists of a roadway obstruction or broken down car. Also used to ignite fireworks.
Flash Powder - an energetic explosive mixture consisting of an oxidizer (usually potassium perchlorate) and a finely powdered metallic fuel (usually aluminium), used to create firecrackers and reports for shells. Flash powder can be set off by both friction and static, and is very hazardous to manufacture.
Flitter - a type of tail effect consisting of bright flashes of light left behind by a star.
Flowerpot - when a shell explodes prematurely in the mortar, spraying the effects into the air like a mine.
Fountain - firework that produces upward showers of sparks.
Fuel - ingredient in pyrotechnic compositions that burns extremely rapidly in the presence of an oxidizer. Common fuels are red gum, sulphur, aluminium, and charcoal.
Fuse - device used to transfer fire to a firework or to the different parts within a firework.
Gabe Mort (italian: "dead head") - a large sack of flash powder typically suspended from a gallows-type frame at the height of a man's head; explodes to create a deafening blast and earth-shaking concussion.
Garden Firework - in the U. K., a small consumer firework designed to be used in small, confined outdoor areas.
Girandola - a spinning horizontal wheel that lifts off and flies up into the sky, where it usually ends with a report or burst of stars and effects.
Gerb - see fountain.
Glitter - a tail effect consisting of bright flashes of light and small explosive bursts.
Go-getter - a self-propelled star that flies around randomly in the air.
Greek Fire - an ancient, long-burning sticky composition once used in combat. It was put in huge pots with a burning cloth (like a Molotov cocktail) and launched from catapults at enemies. Used by the greeks to defeat the Byzantium navy, the secret of Greek Fire was lost but sought throughout the middle ages as a weapon of mass destruction.
Green Man - nickname for an 1600s pyrotechnician who would wear green leaves and mud to both protect himself from sparks and hide himself from the crowd while igniting fireworks. Also the symbol of the Pyrotechnics Guild International.
Green Mix (green powder) - essentially a raw mixture of black powder ingredients that haven't been properly combined with heat to create real black powder. Green powder is greenish, oily mixture that can burn at a variety of speeds (even that of real black powder), depending on how intimately the ingredients are mixed. Also called polverone or pulverone.
Ground Firework - a consumer firework that functions at ground level, such as fountains, novelties, snaps, snakes, sparklers, and smoke items.
Gunpowder - see Black Powder
Hangfire - when a fuse unexpectedly begins burning at an extremely slow rate (or appears to go out). Hangfires can last anywhere from a few seconds to around half an hour, and the fuse can suddenly resume burning at its normal rate at any time.
HDPE - High Density Polyethylene: strong plastic pipe commonly used for mortars
Helicopter - a spinner with wings that flies into the air. Properly called a tourbillion
High explosive - an an extremely powerful explosive capable of detonating, such as TNT or dynamite. High explosives are not used in the fireworks industry.
Hummer - a small tube filled with pyrotechnic composition and plugged at both ends, with an angled hole in the side. Upon ignition, the device spins around very rapidly. At one point during each revolution, the hole (which is producing the sound) is pointed towards the observer, who perceives it as a "humming" sound.
Hygroscopic - the property of a chemical composition that causes it to absorb and retain moisture from the air, often dissolving itself in a wet, useless mess.
Igniter - short term for Electric Igniter
Illegal Explosives - In the US any salute that contains more than 50 mg of flash powder, such as M-80s, Cherry Bombs, and Silver Salutes. In the UK anything other than garden fireworks, in Thailand at the moment almost all fireworks.
Jeweled Rats - rats that carry effects on the outside, such as stars.
Jumping Jacks - small tubes fused together in packs, which look identical to firecrackers. When lit, they spin around on the ground with red and green flames.
Kraft paper - brown paper commonly used in fireworks construction for things such as tubes and quick match pipe.
Ladyfinger - tiny firecrackers.
Lance - a small tube of pyrotechnic composition that burns with a steady, colourful, flare-like flame for about a minute. Lances are attached to frameworks in patterns and fused together to create set pieces.
Lancework - see the Set Piece page for more info.
Leader - the fuse that transfers fire from the day fuse/electrical igniter/flare to the lift charge of the shell.
Lift Charge - charge beneath a shell (usually attached to the bottom of it) consisting of black powder used to propel the device into the sky
M-80 - a small, powerful explosive created by the military (M = Military) for use as a grenade and gunfire simulator and later sold as a large firecracker. Once very popular in the U.S. they were banned as part of the Child Protection Act in 1966 due to the thousands of serious injuries they caused.
Magnalium - a mixture of aluminium and magnesium; the most common alloy used in fireworks. Not as reactive as magnesium, and not as hard to ignite as aluminium.
Maroon - British term for a salute.
Matching - the process of connecting multiple fireworks or portions of fireworks with quick match.
Mine- A firework similar to a shell that is fired from a mortar, ejecting effects such as stars or sparks directly from the mortar rather than as a delayed aerial effect.
Misfire - whenever the fuse of a shell burns into the device, but it fails to fire - the potentially "live" shell is left in the mortar. It could be due to a hangfire.
Missile - a type of rocket that uses fins rather than a stick for guidance.
Mortar - tube from which aerial fireworks such as shells and mines are ejected. Can be made from cardboard, high density polyethylene, or fiberglass.
Mortar Rack - a wooden or metal frame that contains many mortars.
Multi-break - shell with numerous compartments, each one bursting separately.
Muzzle break - when a shell bursts immediately after leaving the mortar, scattering its effects over the ground.
Nosing paper - thin paper wrapped around and extending off of the nozzle of a pyrotechnic device, used to hold the fuse in place and prevent sparks from prematurely igniting the device.
Novelty - a small firework shaped like a animal, vehicle, or structure. Novelties emit small sprays of sparks, crackle, and whistle, and often move around on little wheels.
Orange Book - nickname for the booklet titled "ATF - Explosives Law and Regulations"
Palm tree - a comet shell that burns with a thick tail of sparks on the way up, then breaks several spreading "branches" of sparks.
Parallel burning - sequence where a piece of burning material ignites the piece next to it, which in turn ignites the piece next to that (such as fuse).
Parallel matching - ignition sequence where one fuse is connected to and simultaneously ignites multiple pyrotechnics devices (such as shells and set pieces).
Pattern shell - shell that breaks in a perfect spherical pattern.
Pearl - single colour star, launched from the ground.
Peony - loosely symmetrical break of stars without trails that fly outward and then begin to droop downward.
PGI - Pyrotechnics Guild International.
Pigeon - device that consists of many rats, designed to fly back and forth, and even spin.
Pinwheel - see Wheel.
Pipe - loose paper tubing fitted over black match to make quick match.
Portfires - see Flare.
Prime - a composition such as black powder that is relatively easy to ignite that is mixed with water and a binder to form a slurry, then applied onto fuse or stars composed of something that is more difficult to ignite.
Professional (1.3G) Fireworks - See Definition And Types Of Professional Fireworks..
PVC (polyvinyl chloride) - plastic pipe that should NEVER be used for mortars since it can shatter into razor sharp pieces. Basically the same as ABS.
Pulverone - see Green Mix.
Pumped stars - stars produced by compressing star composition out of a cylindrical tube like a syringe, and cutting them off at a specific length.
Punk - a stick of compressed sawdust that burns extremely slow, used for igniting consumer fireworks.
Pyro - from the Greek word for "fire", used by itself as nickname for a fireworks enthusiast.
Pyrotechnic compositions. A chemical mixture which, upon burning and without explosion, produces visible, brilliant displays, bright lights, or sounds.
Pyrotechnician - someone who builds or shoots fireworks.
Quick Match - extremely rapidly burning fuse used to ignite multiple fireworks at virtually the same instant.
Rack - a wooden frame used to hold mortars, or a device used for launching rockets.
Ramming Rod - a rod made of non-sparking material, typically a wood dowel, but also brass or aluminium, which is used to compress pyrotechnic compositions within a tube.
Rat - rocket constrained to fly along a line; often emitting sparks and effects.
Repeater - firework which fires multiple aerial effects into the sky.
Report - explosion.
Rising Effect - whistles, stars, crackles, etc. that are released by a shell during its ascent.
Rocket - a firework that is propelled into the air by a fast burning engine, before releasing its effects. Rockets are rarely used in public fireworks displays having been replaced by mines and shells..
Roman candle - tube-shaped device that fires a series of stars into the air.
Round star - spherical stars most commonly used in fireworks. Round stars are created by putting a type of small "core", such as lead bird shot or pasta, inside of a bowl and adding star composition and a solvent mixture while the bowl is swirled around. The star composition accumulates on the cores like snow does when you roll a snowball.
Saltpeter - Older term for potassium nitrate (KNO3), the most common type of oxider used in fireworks and one of the main ingredients in black powder.
Salute - An aerial shell, classified as a display firework, that contains a charge of flash powder and is designed to produce a flash of light and a loud report as the pyrotechnic effect.
Safe and Sane - US consumer fireworks that do not explode or contain aerial effects. Includes fountains, novelties, smoke devices, sparklers, and snaps.
Safety cap - paper cap placed over bare end of quick match fuse to prevent premature ignition.
Safety fuse - a slow-burning fuse (usually green) used to make fireworks. Also known as visco or cannon fuse. > More
Series circuit - An effective way of connecting electrical igniters, whwreby several eMatches are arranged in a series (positive to negative along a single scab line), allowing multiple shots to be triggered from a single circuit. Series wiring is widely used as it is eay to checj for continuity in the circuit. (See also parallel circuit)
Series matching - ignition sequence where devices are fused together using one or more types of pyrotechnic fuse (typically quick match and visco) allowing them to be ignited one after another. The rate of fire can be controlled by length and type of fuse used in the series.
Set Piece - a large number of lances mounted on a frame in a pattern (shapes, letters) and fused together for instantaneous ignition. > More
Shell - short term for Aerial Shell.
Shell of Shells - a large shell that contains smaller shells as well as stars, and upon bursting ignite the smaller shells and create secondary bursts.
Short circuit - ignition failure caused when an electrical circuit is accidentally completed in the wrong place, such as bare wires, shunting the electricity away from the igniter.
Shot - refers to the number of effects in a fireworks device, such as as 10-shot roman candle or a 25-shot aerial repeater.
Side spit - sparks and flame that shoot out from a fuse as it burns.
Silver Salute - an illegal explosive similar to an M-80 (but slightly longer) with a silver tube.
Smoke - a dispersion of fine solid particles in air, typically in the 10-5-10-9 meter range. Smokes are typically produced by the incomplete burning of an organic substance (black carbon smoke) or the vaporization of a volatile ingredient which condenses in air.
Smoke Item - a firework that generates smoke as a primary effect, including smoke balls and smoke canisters.
Snake - a small black pellet that, when lit, burns slowly to produce a long column of brittle ash that resembles a snake coming out of the ground.
Spark - light and heat emitting particle ejected from a burning composition.
Sparkler - a wire coated in a pyrotechnic composition that gives off sparks while burning. Though they are considered "safe", they cause more injuries than any other firework.
Spindle - a spike-shaped piece of metal used for forming the cone-shaped combustion chamber inside of a rocket. The increased surface area provides maximum thrust.
Spiral-wound tube - a type of tube created by winding multiple strips of thin paper at an angle (like a toilet paper tube).
Star - small pellet that emits light and sparks as it burns.
Star gun - small roman candle-like device used for testing stars.
Star pump - syringe-like container through which star composition is pushed out of and cut into individual stars.
Sticky match - quick match type fuse consisting of a trail of black power between two pieces of tape stuck against each other. > More
Strobe - bright stars that each flash repeatedly. Also refers to a consumer fireworks device that emits a series of extremely bright flashes.
Time Fuse - thick, slow burning fused used for time delays in aerial shells.
Titanium Report - loud explosion in the air with white sparks.
Top-fused - a method of shell construction where the time fuse enters the shell at the top and is ignited by the leader fuse.
Tourbillion - see helicopter.
Volley - an intense barrage of shells or rockets.
Visco - see safety fuse.
Waterfall - a long series of fountains suspended upside-down, usually from a bridge, that when ignited produce long-lasting white/blue sparks that resemble a waterfall.
Wheel - device that spins rapidly using drivers, emitting sparks, whistles, and other effects.
Whirlwind - tube that spins in the air giving off showers of sparks.
Whistle - high-pitched shriek caused by air rushing through a partly hollow tube as with bottle rockets..
Whistle Mix - a composition that uses potassium/sodium benzoate as a fuel. Such a composition exhibits "vibrational burning", which causes the characteristic whistling sound. Whistle mix can be used for whistling devices or shell inserts, or as part of the burst charge in small shells.
Willow- falling trails of sparks.