There are many great fireworks books and videos out there, which contain a wide variety of information.
Fireworks for Everyone! By Bob Weaver.
Published in 1995, this is a Consumer Reports-like buyers guide to more than 1000 consumer fireworks. All items are rated according to quality, and it describes the colors, sounds, and special effects you’ll get from each device. With this book, you’ll never waste your money on crappy fireworks again. Available here.
Fireworks A-Z Buyers Guide By Bob Weaver.
An 2002 updated version of Bob’s 1995 book. No pictures, but a huge list of fireworks reviews, including each devices performance, duration, manufacturer, and item number.
Fireworks: A History and Celebration. By George Plimpton.
Fireworks Tonight! By Martha Brenner
Firecrackers – The Art and History. By Warren Dotz, Jack Mingo and George Moyer
A firecracker pack and label collectors dream. Here is everything you need to know about firecracker history, label design, and how to rate a grade collector quality firecracker pack labels. A big 10″ X10″ table book. 124 pages. 241 full color pictures. Available from AFN. (description from American Fireworks News website)
2005 North American Fireworks Trade Directory
The bible of the fireworks trade. Lists all known US fireworks manufacturers, importers, distributors, wholesalers, supplies vendors, consultants, clubs, and special effects suppliers. Contains companies, contact names, addresses, phones, and locations, cross referenced by state. 200+ pages, spiral bound. (description from Skylighter website) Available from Skylighter.
(scientific and how-to)
Introductory Practical Pyrotechnics. By Tom Perigrin.
A great book to start with if you have never built fireworks before. It teachers the beginner all about the world of fireworks making, and includes a wide variety of projects that get more advanced as they progress. Learn to make black powder, black match, quick match, fountains, lances, stars, mines, shells, and helicopters. Available from Skylighter.
Chemistry of Pyrotechnics. By John Conkling
One of the top modern book that gives you the basic principles and theory. Learn the chemical theories underlying pyrotechnic mixtures and explosives. It reviews chemical principles, offers practical solutions to research problems; It’s an ideal learning aid and hands-on reference. By the former Executive Director of the American Pyrotechnics Assn.. Available from here. (description from American Fireworks News website)
Fireworks Principles and Practice, 3rd Edition. By Rev. Ronald Lancaster
An interesting book that covers the history of fireworks, fireworks legislation, fireworks materials/chemicals, general pyrotechnic principles, mixing and charging, how different types of fireworks work, effects, and a glossary. Also includes a 63- page chapter by Takeo Shimizu on fireworks manufacture. 448 pages, 300 definitions in the glossary, 170 pictures and illustrations.
Technique in Fire, Volume 8, Ignition: Materials, Problems, and Solutions. By Bill Ofca.
A great book that contains lots of information about fuse and fireworks ignition. Learn about quick match, green powder, igniter cord, visco fuse, time delay fuse, pass fire, buckets, lift/burst powder, and blind stars, matching gerbes and lancework, priming, and cross matching.
“PYROvideo” by Bob Weaver
The famous consumer fireworks reviewer and general pyro nut Bob Weaver continues where he left off in 1995 with his book Fireworks for Everyone. Each of these four videos reviews dozens of new consumer fireworks and informational segments. The first issue takes you on a trip with Bob to the Brothers Pyrotechnics plant in China, where you learn how consumer fireworks are built. The second issue shows to how prepare fireworks for your show. The third and fourth ones contain “how to” projects”, footage of other peoples’ consumer firework display setups, in addition to dozens of firework clips. Check out his site for more information. These are videos that no pyro should be without.
Follow an explosive trail through the ages, starting in ninth-century China, where alchemists stir up a concoction meant to provide eternal life. Instead, the strange mix blows up in their faces – and the first pyrotechnics are born. Intrigued by the magical formula, Roger Bacon makes a bigger bang by confining the black powder inside a tube. “When the flame of powder catcheth the soul of man.” notes the medieval friar, “it burneth exceeding deep.” The way is now paved for high explosives, and nineteenth-century industrialist Alfred Nobel – know variously as the ‘merchant of death’ and the founder of the Nobel Pease Prize – in turn pushes nitroglycerin to its dynamite potential. Carrying on this legacy, physicist Robert Oppenheimer will unleash the terrible beauty of the atomic bomb, ironically hoping its awesome power might render war obsolete. What will be our next experiment in search of the ultimate explosion? (description taken from back of video box)
“Join NOVA and travel to Italy, England, and Pennsylvania to discover the chemical secrets that put the bang in the rocket and the fizz in the Roman candle. Meet the Zambelli family, the “First family of fireworks,” and see the spectacular results of secrets passed down through generations. Watch master pyrotechnicians show how intricate fireworks display are created. Discover how elaborate computer controls turn a celebration at Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers Stadium into amazing split-second science. And enjoy some of the world’s most astounding public fireworks displays, including the record-setting millennial celebration at the Eiffel Tower.” (description taken from back of video box)
Publications to AVOID
Unfortunately, there are several books and computer files in existence that contain extremely dangerous information on bomb making on chemical mixing written by moronic James Bond wannabes who have no idea what the hell they’re doing. Following any of the pyrotechnic instructions in these could result in serious injury or death. For example, these “books” contain recipes that involve mixing chlorate (ClO3) compounds with sulfur compounds, which can result in a spontaneous fire or explosion. Once again, NEVER do anything described in these publications.
-The Big Book of Mischief
-The Anarchist’s Cookbook
-The Jolly Roger’s Cookbook
-The Poor Man’s James Bond