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types and definitions related to fireworks


Aerial - Type of fireworks that shoots flaming balls into the air; many different types of effects and sizes

Assortment - pre-packaged collection of items

Artillery Shell - cylindrical or shell style device loaded with powder and fuse that is launched into the air from a mortar tube and creates a fireworks display


Barrage - group of fireworks fired at once


Battery - group of similar items constructed as a single bundle


Black Powder - (gun powder) the main ingredient of most fireworks due to predictability and slow-burn time  


Bombette - exploding star


Bottle rocket - small rocket with a thin stick attached

Bouquet pattern - (peony) floral-shaped aerial pattern of stars, usually in a spherical shape 

Break - when the shell bursts or opens up and makes the effects and colors

Brocade - large spherical break of stars that trail down, typically a silver or gold effect, uses glitter, and brighter than willow or tiger tails


Cake - (repeaters or multi-shot aerials) one fuse lights many tubes, up to 3" wide, in sequence; expect a wide variety of effects from 8 to 1,000 tubes

Chrysanthemum - spherical burst of stars shaped like a flower

Comet - star that leaves a thick trail of sparks on the way up

Cone - type of fountain shaped like a cone


Confetti - propelled paper streamers


Crackle Effect - sounds like hundreds of pops occurring rapidly together

Crossette - break that splits in the shape of a plus sign or cross moving outward


Dahlia - starfish-like or floral break; bigger and longer-lasting than peony

Day Time Effect - meant to be enjoyed during day, rather than night; smoke items and parachute items


Diadem - large chrysanthemum with willow effect

Dragon Eggs - group of aerial crackling sparks


Falling Leaves - glowing embers that float back and forth as they fall to earth

Finale - end of a fireworks show; typically quick-paced

Firecracker - produces a loud bang; sold as strips, rolls or bricks 

Firefly - tail effect made of numerous bright flashes

Fish - embers that swim in the air, looking like a school of fish that is startled and scatters frantically in many directions


Flare - very bright light that burns for a length of time

Floral Pattern - breaks outward from the center of the break

Fountain - creates a variety of effects, colors, sounds, shapes and sizes as a shower of sparks into the air

Fuse - used to light fireworks; looks like string or wire













Glitter - bursts of small light and noise that lasts a few seconds


Girandola - wheel that spins, spraying sparks; may contain breaks, effects or whistles

Ground Item - items that are lit and stay on the ground; fountains, sparklers, snaps, snakes, pops, smoke balls, and all other safe & sane items

Helicopter - (UFO, sky flyer or plane) spins quickly and takes off into the sky where it bursts with an effect 

Horsetail - (waterfall) long-lasting, short tail that resembles a horse tail 

Jumping Jacks - spin on the ground and spray red and green sparks

Mine - stars sprayed up into sky

Missile - rocket that may rotate as it lifts off or shot from a tube

Mortar - tube used to launch single shells or canisters with long fuse;  the launched shell or canister will burst in the air, producing effects and noise

Mortar Rack - frame that holds multiple mortar tubes in a variety of quantity and positions

Multi-Shot Aerial - see cake

Layer Effect - fireworks displaying at different levels

Novelty - small fireworks that are generally considered safe for most users; snaps, snakes, poppers, and sparklers

Palm Tree - a gold or silver rising tail then a brocade or willow effect; looks like a palm tree

Parachute - launched into air in a mortar tube or cake and returns to earth with a parachute

Peony - spherical ball of colored lights in the sky that looks like a flower 

Pistil - small burst of light within a bigger burst of light; peony within peony

Plane - see helicopter

Punk - bamboo stick with a slow-burn coating used to light fireworks; looks like incense but have no smell

Reloadable Aerial - mortar with multiple shells meant to be loaded individually into tube

Repeater - see cake


Report - the bang of a firework 

Ring Shell - bursts as a ring or circle

Rising Tail - gold or silver stream that shoots up into sky with shell

Rocket - tube that shoots into sky; typically has a stick attached

Roman Candle - tube designed to shoot flaming balls

Safe and Sane - fireworks with no explosions or aerial effects and legal to use without permit in Wisconsin; sparklers, snaps, smoke balls, fountains, snakes,  wheels


Salute - item that creates a very loud explosion; these are considered professional fireworks

Saturn Shell - bursts as a ring around a ball of stars; peony and ring combo

Serpent - (spinner, tourbillion) bursts and spins into sky like a coiling snake

Shell - made to be launched into sky from a mortar tube to produce an aerial effect

Single Shot Aerial - mortar tube with a single, pre-loaded shell

Smoke Item - produces smoke effect; typically used during the day

Snakes - hard pellets that produce a long carbon snake

Snaps - paper balls filled with ingredients that create a "snap" when thrown 

Sparkler - bamboo or wire stick coated with substance that burns and creates sparks

Spider - burst with stars that travel quickly in a straight and flat line; looks like spider legs

Spinner - see Serpent

Star - powder used to produce the light effects in aerial fireworks

Strobe - blinking effect

Tail - trail that follows a star


Time Rain - trail of large, slow-burning glitter with a sizzling noise

Tourbillion - see Serpent

Tube - see Mortar

UFO - see helicopter

Wheel - typically nailed down and spins to make circle of fire and sparks

Whistle - sharp howling sound

Willow - bursts with small golden trails that hang in the sky, typically 10 seconds or longer; looks like giant willow tree

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