Relying on smoke, noise, light and the “hanging” effect fireworks are little more than low explosive pyrotechnic devices that are used for entertainment purposes during firework displays. Firework displays are used for a whole host of events including celebrating Independence Day, celebrating the end of the old year, celebrating religious festivals and to mark the end of music concerts and gigs amongst much more. Firework displays are always a crowd pleaser and some displays are more like a work of art and exceptionally impressive. Firework displays aren’t limited to the United States, or even the Western world since they are used worldwide by all races and all religions.
Fireworks were, in fact, invented by the Chinese centuries ago and were initially used to scare away evils spirits and ghosts by virtue of the loud noises they gave off. As time passed the use of fireworks increased to what they are used for today. As well as entertainment purposes fireworks have other uses including being used for mayday signals and flares and as bird scarers.
Fireworks can be classified in to ground fireworks, i.e. those that are set off and perform at ground level, or aerial fireworks, i.e. those that are fired in to the air and perform in the sky. Some fireworks perform suspended above ground level, such as Catherine Wheels, but these are still classified as ground fireworks as they are not propelled in to the air.
Fireworks can be categorised further in to the noises they make once ignited. The most common noise made by a firework is the bang or report, which sounds like a gunshot. Other fireworks may be classified as hummers. These fireworks spin whilst in the air and shred their cardboard tubes, making a whizzing and humming noise as they do so. Other fireworks crackle and pop. Other fireworks whistle in a loud and high pitched fashion. Some fireworks use a combination of some or all of these noises.
There are many different types of firework and the most popular and well known include:
i) Roman candles - A long tube containing several large stars which fire at a regular intervals. Roman candles are commonly arranged in crisscrossing shapes, or close to the audience.
ii) Fish – These are stars that are fired up in to the air away from the shell, which look like fish swimming away, hence the name.
iii) Peony – These are shot up in to the air where there will be a spherical break of colored stars, without a tail, that burn brightly before fizzling out. The peony is one of the most common of the shell types.
iv) Ring – This is a shell with stars that are specifically arranged to make a ring pattern once ignited. There are many variations of this firework which includes hearts or faces.
v) Dahlia – These are like the peony but there are fewer stars but these are much bigger and appear to burn brighter.
vi) Chrysanthemum – These are like the peony but the stars burn and leave a tail as they fizzle out.
vii) Willow – These are like the chrysanthemum in that they have a tail but the tails are much longer and leave a weeping willow pattern in the air.
viii) Diadem – These are a variation of the peony or chrysanthemum whereby there is a cluster of stars that don’t move, and fizzle out whilst hanging in the air.
ix) Crossette – These are shells that contain large stars that travel a short distance before breaking up in to smaller stars and make a grid effect. Traditionally, crossettes were gold or silver however, colored varieties are now much more common.
x) Spider – These are shot in to the air and will then fall down, whilst burning, leaving a series of lines which are considered to look like spiders legs.
xi) Time rain – These are large burning stars that leave a trail behind it. As the sparks fizzle out they make a crackling noise made.
xii) Salute – These are known for their audio effect rather than the visual effects. Salutes will give off a quick glimpse of light followed by an extremely loud bang or report.
xiii) Catherine wheel – These are a number of fireworks that are attached to a metal frame that rotates around a pivot and is suspended on a post above the ground. As the fireworks burn the metal frame rapidly rotates around the pivot and the fireworks emit a trail of burning stars.
xiv) Sparklers – These are metal sticks that contain small amounts of firework chemicals. The ends of the sparklers are lit and a colorful flame is given off. These are commonly used by children at displays. Despite being weak fireworks sparklers can still cause injury therefore care should always be taken when using sparklers and children should be supervised at all times.
Laws regarding fireworks vary from Continent to continent, country to country and state to state. Some areas are very strict on the sale and use of fireworks, whereby it is only licensed and trained pyrotechnic specialists that can buy and use them, whereas some areas are a lot more relaxed and general members of the public can buy and use fireworks. In the wrong hands fireworks can be extremely dangerous, therefore it is recommended that you never buy and use them, instead leaving the displays to the trained professionals hence allowing you to really enjoy the show.