On this page you'll find descriptions and images of all the
different types of consumer fireworks, what they do, and what the typical prices
are. Please be aware that the prices listed are what the different items
sell for at my firework stand, and may differ depending on where you live and
which dealer you buy from.
|Assortments are packages of fireworks that come in all
sizes, prices, and types. They can range from $10 to $300 in
price. Because all the fireworks come together in one box, they are
much cheaper - for example, a $50 assortment might contain fireworks
that would cost $80 if bought separately. If you're new to consumer
fireworks and not quite sure what to get, or you're planning to do your
own display, an assortment will provide you with a nice variety of items
that will save you time and money that you'd otherwise spend getting
Assortments can always be selected according to your specific tastes -
if you're doing a small backyard show for children and don't want much
noise, you can buy a small family assortment which contains items such as
fountains, sparklers, poppers, and smokes (which usually costs about $10-$30).
Even if you're experienced with consumer fireworks and plan to do a
full-scale neighborhood display, you can't go wrong with an assortment -
larger ones contain a nice variety of shells, repeating aerial displays,
rockets, and more.
repeaters, also known as "cakes", are one of the most
popular types of fireworks next along with aerial shells. They are
basically a little firework show all in one piece, so all you have to do
is light the fuse, then sit back and enjoy the show. Their long
duration and variety of effects make them great crowd pleasers. Repeaters usually consist of many tubes attached together, ranging
anywhere from half a dozen to over 200. Repeaters can be
distinguished from fountains because a repeater always has a fuse on the
lower side, rather than on the top like a fountain. Each tube of a
repeater is a tiny aerial shell- type devices. A single fuse burns
between the tubes. When it reaches one, the lifting powder inside
ignites and shoots the effects high into the air.
shot repeaters usually cost around $8, while devices like the one pictured
usually sell for around $15. In the last few years a new type of
repeater has been produced, which contains 500 grams of pyrotechnic content (the
legal limit). Such devices are often over a cubic foot in volume,
and cost around $40 and up.
kits have become one of the most popular types of consumer fireworks
available today. When ignited, the shell is propelled high into
the air, where it bursts into a beautiful pattern of colors, much like
the fireworks seen at professional displays. These assortments
contain one or two tubes (mortars) and anywhere from 6 to nearly 100
shells. The mortar can be made out of either High-Density
Polyethylene (HDPE), fiberglass or heavy cardboard. Small kits, like the one
pictured on the left, typically contain a single 12" long cardboard
mortar and 6-18 standard single-break shells. The price for such
assortments typically ranges from $8-$15, depending on the quality of
the shells. "Artillery Shells", which come in different
color boxes, are always a good choice because they have fairly decent
bursts and are reasonably priced. I personally recommend that you
stay away from "Festival Balls" - although they're cheaper
than any other shells, their performance is weak and fairly
shell assortments usually contain one or more 18" long HDPE mortars
and 24+ shells that may have multiple breaks and effects. These kits
can range from $30 to nearly $200 in price, depending on what type of
shells are in the assortment.
Pictured on the right is a triple-break shell assortment. Each
"shell" is actually three shells attached to each other that burst
in quick succession in the sky. Double, quadruple, and quintuple shells also
Almost all consumer
firework shells are 1.75" in diameter. If you have the money, I recommend you buy
the kits with HDPE mortars - they're safer, stronger, and can withstand much
more shots than cardboard ones. If you plan on launching a lot of
shells, you may want to consider buying
mortar tubes and building your own mortar
tubes come in two
types - single and multiple tubes. Single tubes are pretty much a pre-loaded aerial shell
with some beautiful, exotic effect not found in most shells - for example,
comet, and green palm tree, a thick gold comet, or a giant red chrysanthemum
burst. They cost about $10-15. The multiple-tube types
contain several tubes with a single shell each, and are fused to fire a few seconds
apart. They can cost upwards of $50.
Most display tubes contain a number in
their name (such as "#200 Giant" Comet or "#900 Mad
Dog"), but no one seems to know exactly what the number indicates.
are the earliest form of fireworks; invented by the Chinese and believed to drive away evil spirits.
They come in various
sized packages - from strings of as little as 12 to gigantic celebration
rolls of up to 20,000. Firecrackers are packaged in
different sized cases that indicate the total number of crackers by a
special code printed on the label, such as 6/80/16. This means that the case contains 6
units of 80 packs of crackers each, and each pack contains 16 crackers
fused together on one string. Thus, the total number of crackers
can be determined by multiplying the number. Sometimes the
packaging gives a number of "tau", which is not the
total number of firecrackers. Prices can range from $.25 for a string of a dozen to around
$2 for a string of 200, and at
the extreme end, $100 for a celebration roll of anywhere from
spinners are basically ground spinners with slanted wings. As the
device spins, the wings direct the air flow downward and lift it
into the air, much like a helicopter. At the end of its flight, a small
burst charge ignites and ejects the colored stars inside. Sometimes the whole thing explodes.
Helicopters can range
in price from about $.50 for small ones and around $1-$2 for the device
pictured at the right.
are devices that sit on the ground and emit showers of colored sparks
upwards. Unlike repeaters, they don't
shoot effects high into the air - only about ten feet. They
provide wide displays of beautiful colors, and can greatly
enhance and complement aerial displays (like repeaters and shells).
Nowadays, many fountains come in packs of 4 or more, but single
fountains can usually be bought for $2-$10.
Larger fountains consist of multiple
tubes fused to go off in sequence.
As mentioned before, they can easily be confused with repeaters by their
shape, but your clue that they are fountains is that the fuse is on the
top, not the side. Like smaller fountains, they
never shoot their effects over 10 feet in the air, but they provide much
displays (from 2-3 minutes!) and can greatly enhance your show, especially when used in combination
with shells or other aerial items. Such fountains can cost up to
spinners spin around randomly at ground level, shooting out colored
sparks and flames. The most common type are "Ground Bloom
Flowers", which spin furiously all over the place. The flame
changes color several times, and the unbalanced spin makes the device
looks like a bright flower as it rotates. Packs of 4 sell for
Another type of
spinner is the circular type, where a tube of composition (or small
drivers) burns to make the device spin around in a circle.
|Not to be
confused with the military device of the same name, firework mines produce upward, fan-shaped blasts of color and
effects (look at the side of the box in the picture to get an idea).
They come in kits containing a tube and several mines (just like
reloadable shells). There are very few mine kits on the consumer
market, but more and more have begun to emerge as the "mine"
effect gains popularity. A popular and excellent mine kit is the
are small fireworks that usually look like some " real life" object (tanks,
ships, cars, or animals) and often scoot across the ground. They
generally don't do much and aren't that impressive, but children always
get a big kick out of them. Kids
also like these because they can use what's left over as a toy (or something
to stomp on). Novelties are fairly cheap: they cost about $.75 for
a simple tank to no more than $2 or so for a more "elaborate"
device such as ships and monster trucks.
come in two different types - day and night. Each type can be
further broken down into single or multiple shots.
"Single" daytime parachutes launch a canister high into the air,
where it bursts into one or two parachutes. Sometimes the
"paratrooper" is actually a little colored smoke canister which
ignites on the way down and makes it easier to track. These cost
about $.50 to $2.00 each. Multiple shot daytime parachutes look more
like a tall, thin repeater consisting of many tubes just like those
pictured on the left. These devices can fill the air with nearly 100
different colored parachutes, which rain down everywhere. They cost
are the same as daytime ones, except that the paratrooper has a strobe or
colored star composition in it, which burns brightly as it slowly falls
down. They cost about the same as daytime parachutes.
||These devices aren't actually
considered to be fireworks by most states and are sold year round in toy
shops. They are relatively safe and fun for children to use, so they
are often sold along with fireworks.
Impact-ignited snappers go by about a
thousand different names and come in small boxes of 50 for about $.50.
Bottle shaped, pull string "party poppers" shoot confetti and cost
about $.50 for half a dozen
devices blast up into the sky and eject some kind of effect; such as a
report, crackle, or stars. Rockets are stabilized
by a long stick, and can be broken down into two subcategories: bottle
rockets and skyrockets. Bottle rockets are small, 1 foot long
rockets that whistle/explode, and obviously can be launched from a
bottle. They come in packs of a dozen, which usually sells for less
than $1. Skyrockets are rockets that are greater than 1 foot
in length (too big to be launched from a bottle) and contain more
impressive effects such as stars, crackles, strobes, and even
parachutes. Huge skyrockets, which can be anywhere from 3-5 feet
long (including stick), have
large payload sections that actually contain aerial shells.
They usually come in packages and assortments, and range in price from
$1.50 to $5.00 apiece, depending on the size.
candles are a single tubes that fire many shots, unlike repeaters and
shells that only fire one shot per tube. The shots fire one at a time
out of a tube. The type of shots
can range from a simple color star to more complex stars that flash,
explode, whistle, and crackle. Larger bore (diameter) roman
candles even have shots the shoot out and burst like miniature aerial
star-shooting roman candles cost about $.75-$1; those with more elaborate effects
cost $1.50-$2, and the thicker "shell" type candles cost about $5.
Smoke items are a good daytime
item that are fun to play around with. They most commonly come in the form of smoke balls, which cost
about $1.00 for a 6-pack. The smoke comes in orange, blue, yellow, green,
blue, and purple - though the purple ones almost always make white
"smoke grenades" are also available, which create thick clouds of
smoke for up to 2 minutes. They cost about $1-$2
SNAKES & STROBES
Most strobe devices (pictured at left) come in boxes of a half
dozen, and they emit bright,
disorienting flashing of light. A box of strobes typically costs about
come in the form of small black pellets. When they burn, they emit a long, brittle carbon ash, which looks like a snake coming
out of the ground. A box of 6 snake pellets costs
Sparklers are tiny hand held fountains
that give off colored sparks from the burning tip. They are the
only firework meant to be held.
There are two types - metal rod (pictured at left), and "Morning Glory". Metal rod sparklers are typically single-color
(usually gold or silver). They are fairly difficult to ignite, and
cost around $.75 for a box of 6. Morning Glories are attached
to wooden rods and have 3 distinct burning phases - usually a red flame
for about 20 seconds, then a crackle/snapping phase for 20 seconds, and
finishing off with 20 seconds of a green/white flame. They cost a
bit extra ($1 per pack of 6), but are much safer than metal sparklers
because they don't leave a hot wire behind. Some
companies manufacture very large sparklers known as "California
Candles", which are basically a roman-candle sized fountain.
|Wheels are fireworks that are designed to be attached to some sort
of vertical support, usually by a nail. When lit, they spin around
their center emitting showers of sparks, crackle, and whistles.
They spin at incredible speeds, looking like a circle of blazing fire
floating in midair. Most wheels are powered by several engines
(called drivers) which fire in sequence.