Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Glossary of Firework Names O - Z



Open circuit

An incomplete electrical circuit

Orange book

The United Nations publication for classification and testing of dangerous goods


The component of an explosive that supplies oxygen for the reaction of the product

Palm burst

A colour break with palm tree core

Parallel circuit

An electrical circuit in which the current is divided between several igniters. Less easy to test for breaks.


Commonly used to cover shells to enhance their burst

Pattern shell

A shell of fewer stars that creates a pattern rather than a sphere


See Star

Peony shell

A shell whose stars do not leave any trails


Plastic Igniter cord


A specialised type of firework which travels to and fro along a horizontal rope

Piped match

Raw match enclosed in a paper or plastic tube


The central core of a shell. Often a complimentary or contrasting colour to the main burst


See Bung


A thin walled tube filled with slow burning composition used to light other fireworks


Composition used to produce force e.g. A rocket motor


Slow burning lighter for small fireworks


Generic term for any item which react in a self sustaining chemical reaction and generally produces a light effect. Pyrotechnic articles are different to fireworks and generally are used for stage and theatrical uses


Raw match enclosed in a paper or plastic tube


Apparatus for firing rockets or mortar tubes


Shells containing long burning stars that fall all the way to the ground.

Raw match

Black powder coated thread used for linking fireworks

Repeater shell

Usually a cylinder shell with timed bursts at regular intervals

Ring shell

An aerial shell that produces symmetrical rings of stars often have a rope tail to control orientation of the break

Rising effect

Often a tail effect on a shell but can be external attachments to a shell that break off during the rise to create special effects


Aerial effect propelled by a motor

Rocket cone

A device for firing flight rockets

Rocket motor

The power unit behind a rocket. Typically made by pressing black powder into a choked tube

Roman candle

A cardboard tube with a stack of timed comets or bombette units

Round shell

A shell in the form of a sphere usually containing coloured stars

Safety area

The area around a fireworks display site between the spectators and fireworks. Not including a fall out zone


Report or loud bang

Saturn shell

A chrysanthemum break with an outer ring of a contrasting colour


A bar with centre pivot with drivers at either one or two ends which make the bar spin on a central point.


A whistle unit with a hole through the centre. This increases the burn speed and therefore the sound


The pattern in which fireworks are detonated in a display

Series circuit

A circuit arranged so the current runs through each igniter in turn. This enables and breaks to be detected


A spinning tube used in candles and shells. Usually with a report unit

Set piece

A ground firework. Generally static


The most spectacular of fireworks propelled with a lifting charge from a mortar and a bursting charge that charge to a star composition in the air after a predetermined delay

Shell delay

See Delay fuse

Shell of shells

An aerial shell that contains smaller shells ignited when the main shell bursts and subsequently produces small secondary bursts

Short circuit

The accidental completion of a circuit which causes the current to not flow through the igniter


The single functioning of a roman candle or cake


Air suspension of particles from incomplete combustion of a composition

Smokeless powder

A powder containing nitro-cellulose and nitro-glycerine as it does not produce much smoke


Typical effect caused by incandescent particles ejected form the surface of a burning composition


Wire coated with pyrotechnic composition that gives off small sparks

Spider shell

A shell containing a small number of large stars producing a symmetrical burst. Sometimes called octopus shells

Splitting comet

A comet with an internal charge of flash powder which when ignited splits the comet into several pieces.


Electric igniter


A pressed unit of composition usually spheres or cylinders used in shells, mines, rockets and roman candles


The holding of fireworks prior to their use. Premises must be licensed for amounts above a certain quantity


A pulsing on off star effect fired from candles and shells and ground based effects

Tail effect

A comet star secured to the outside of a shell to give a tail to the rising shell

Tiger tail shell

A shell made up of a solid ball of composition to produce a substantial tail effect. Sometimes with a small shell break


A silver metal used in the production of maroons and gerbes

Top fused

A shell where the shell delay is lit separately from the lifting charge. Often found in large Maltese shells


See Serpent


The process of consigning a load of fireworks. Subject to heavy legislative control

TREM card

Documentation required when transporting fireworks of any quantity. Transport emergency card. Provide information for emergency services


A large tail unit often used on palm and willow shells

UN classification

The assignment of a packaged firework into the UN classes for fireworks

UN compatibility group

The G or S of 1.3G or 1.4S. The compatibility group indicated what a particular item may and not be transported with

UN Hazard code

See UN number

UN Mark

A complicated mark assigned to a particular packing box for dangerous goods

UN Number

A four-digit number assigned to hazardous goods. Explosives always start with a 0 e.g. 1.4G fireworks are UN 0336. Used to identify a dangerous item in the event of an emergency


A mass firing of rockets or shells

Water firework

Aquatic fireworks e.g. shells or water gerb

Water gerb

A floating gerb with a weight and cork float.

Water shell

See Aquatic shell


A curtain of coloured or silver sparks that falls vertically. Composition is made from an aluminium alloy

Weeping willow

See Willow shell


A rotating piece attached to a post in the form of a saxon bar or wheel with driver units


A tube containing composition of potassium benzoate and potassium silicate. On burning the composition creates oscillation in the tube and creates a whistle effect which is amplified in the tube


See Hummer

Willow shell

A shell containing charcoal based stars with a long burn time which often fall to the ground

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Glossary of Firework Names A-N




The UN Classification of Fireworks packaged for transport that poses a mass explosion hazard.


The UN Classification of Fireworks packaged for transport that poses a projectile hazard


The UN Classification of Fireworks packaged for transport that poses a fiery projectile or thermal radiation hazard


The UN Classification of Fireworks packaged for transport that poses a limited hazard


The UN Classification of Fireworks packaged for transport that poses a very limited hazard with minimal effect if ignited.


Regulations covering all drivers of explosives vehicles over a certain net weight of explosives

Aerial Firework

A firework that has its main function above ground level mainly shells, roman candles, mines and cakes

Aerial shells

A shell that is designed to function at altitude

Aquatic shell

A shell that is designed to function on the surface of water

Bag mine

A mine that is fired from a mortar with only a small casing to create minimum debris

Bare match

Blackmatch without a sleeve


A combination of fireworks designed to be fired simultaneously


A group of roman candles grouped and fused together for increased effect or duration


Coloured flare usually made up from loose packed composition


A cotton thread coated with blackpowder in its raw state. Sometimes cased in a paper tube

Black powder

A composition of potassium nitrate, charcoal and sulphur in the proportion of 75:15:10 widely used in fireworks manufacture as a propellant and the basis for compositions containing metal powders. Blackpowder does not detonate on ignition but merely burns very fast

Blind shell

A shell that fails to break. Potentially very dangerous


An effect of periodic burning giving the effect of flashing or strobe


Spanish for little shell. Usually found as part of roman candles or cakes and occasionally in mines or sub components of shells

Bottom fused

The normal method of igniting a shell. The delay is ignited which then lights a delay fuse on the shells. Also used for cakes when the fuse runs round the base of each tube and enters via a small hole


British Pyrotechnic Association. Trade organisation concerned with all areas of firework safety and use in the UK


A burst of a shell or bombette unit. Shells can either be single or multibreak units

British Standard

The standards set for consumer fireworks for labelling and construction. All consumer fireworks must comply with BS 7114 part2 1988


Long burning star that burns bright but not as long as a kimuro


Always used at one end only of a tube or mortar. A composite or solid wooden disk the same size as internal diameter of a tube and usually nailed and glued into the tube to keep secure. Bungs are often made of compressed clay for items including cakes and roman candles.

Bursting Charge

An internal charge of a shell or bombette unit that breaks the shell open at a predetermined height. Made from gunpowder or flashpowder


A burst of a cylindrical tube from a central point which creates an effect that looks like the wings of a butterfly


Colloquial term for a multi shot battery


The inside diameter of a firing tube or mortar


An aerial shell containing several shells that explodes at the same time. Also a battery of reports from china


The tube that contains firework composition

Catherine wheel

The traditional name for a wheel. The name given because of St.Catherine who was martyred on a burning rotating wheel

Chain fusing

A method of fusing several firework elements together e.g. shells

Chinese cracker

A roll of many hundreds of individual cracker units which produces a machinegun report effect when hung up. Traditionally used for Chinese celebrations


The narrowing of a tube usually for fountains or rockets by means of squeezing the tube or the insertion of a clay bung

Chrysanthemum break

A spherical burst in which each star leaves a visible trail

Closed circuit

A completed electrical circuit. i.e. A ready to fire circuit

Coconut break

A shell containing large stars usually gold, silver or crackling to produce a palm tree effect. Usually fitted with a tail to produce the trunk effect


A solid unit of composition usually used in roman candles. The unit is completely self consuming so is useful for site where fallout is a problem


A term used for all pyrotechnic mixtures. More specifically it is a list of ingredients in a particular mix. All compositions contain an oxidant together with colour or effect ingredients.


A specialised fountain in the shape of a cone. A burning cone will increase the height of the spark shower as it burns as the surface area that burns is increased.


Banger unit also see Chinese cracker


An effect containing hundreds of sharp bangs thrown off a low intensity comet. Most crackle compositions contain lead or bismuth oxides


See Screecher

Cross match

A piece of thin raw match used to facilitate the ignition of a shells internal delay fuse. Usually made from splitting or punching the delay fuse


See Splitting comet

Crossing stars

Two stars in a single tube with a central bursting charge


See Kimuro

Crown chrysanthemum

A chrysanthemum break with longer burning stars that fall to the ground. Often produced to have coloured tips at the end.

Crown wheel

A plastic ring with driver units that rotate and flies vertically. Double acting versions are available which ascend drop sand then re ascend

Cylinder shell

Usually European and commonly a stack of shells that are timed to break in a sequence.


A shell with larger and brighter stars than peony breaks


Explosive propagation which is faster than burning but is not detonation


Pyrotechnic composition that burns at a predetermined rate and used for timing within or externally between fireworks

Delay fuse

A pyrotechnic composition designed to delay before functioning the next explosive device. Most commonly used in shell spikes as they rise into the air.

Display area

The are used for rigging and including the safety and fallout area


A specialist gerb with more power whose primary purpose is to rotate a wheel. Often including titanium.


Department of Trade and Industry responsible for aspects of sale of fireworks to the general public


The Explosives Industry Group of the Confederation of British Industry. Its main purpose is liaison with government on safety and legislative matters

Electric firing

The process of firing a displays electrically.

Electric igniter

An electrically ignited match head commonly used on electrically fired displays. These are not to be confused with detonators

Electric match

An electric igniter

European standard

A proposed standard for fireworks across Europe (CEN 212) currently being adopted across Europe.


Any material that is capable of undergoing a self contained 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 component to another.

Fallout zone

A safe area designated for any debris fallout from a display. This must be selected with climatic conditions in mind.

Finale barrage

A rapid firing pre fused sequence fired at the end of a display


See Cracker


An explosive assigned to UN numbers 0333 to 0337.


A pyrotechnic device designed to emit coloured light.

Flash rocket

A rocket containing a flashpowder charge that produces a loud report after its ascent

Flight rocket

A small rocket. Usually fired in large numbers simultaneously from a tube or cone


A spark effect produced by incorporation of coarse metal powders, usually aluminium


A device containing pyrotechnic composition in a tube which is usually choked.


An arrangement of mines, fountains or roman candles arranged parallel with the spectators and fired simultaneously


Means of transferring fire to a firework

Fuse cover

A protective cover for the initial fuse of a firework. Often coloured orange

Garden firework

A firework of limited power for use in restricted outdoor areas. Category 2 fireworks.


A thick walled tube filled with composition and having a choke. Emits shower of sparks


Production of molten composition droplets which react with air to produce a glittery effect. Similar but different to strobe and flitter


Pyrotechnists term for black powder.

Hammer shell

A multibreak shell comprising of colour breaks with timed detonation


Japanese for fireworks translated as 'flowers of fire'

High explosive

An explosive that is capable of exploding when unconfined


The British Health and Safety Executive. Enforcement and legislative body.


A thick walled tube filled with composition with a specific burn rate so as to produce a humming sound


A shortened term for an electric igniter

Igniter cord

Also called pic. This is available in several burning speeds. Often used to time link fireworks


The initiation of burning of a pyrotechnic material

Indoor firework

Devices of very limited power suitable for indoor use

Japanese style shell

A spherical burst shell. Has perfect symmetry and patterned displays.


A long burning star usually silver or gold. Falls for long distances and colour changes at the end of its flight

Kraft paper

A strong brown paper used for finishing shells and capping.


Small thin walled tube containing coloured composition.


A message or logo made from wooden framework and lances fused and positioned in a specific manner


An initial fuse of a shell from its fuse to the lifting charge

Lifting charge

A charge beneath an aerial shell that propels the unit into the air

Line rocket

A rocket designed to travel along a wire or rope


An explosive device that produces a loud report


A generic term for quickmatch or black match


A lifting charge with either comet stars or bombette units fired from a mortar tube.

Mini mine

A roman candle which ejects min mine effects rather than comet or bombette units


A failure of a firework to perform as designed


See Composition


A tube used to fire a shell or mine. Open at one and sealed with a bung at the other

Mortar mine

A mine fired from a mortar

Niagara falls

See Waterfall


A specialised system for firework ignition using a shock tube. High-speed simultaneous ignition can be achieved.