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

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