May 17, 2005

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This page contains some of the common words you'll read on this website.

Fireworks CLipartThere are more specific words associated with fireworks. You can find them at these websites: a good glossary with pictures

aerial firework a device that functions in the air, such as a shell, roman candle, rocket, or repeater
aerial shells

a shell that explodes overhead, in the air. Aerial shells are loaded and fired from mortars and can travel up to 200 to 3,000 feet into the sky.

black powder

the most common material used in fireworks. Black powder was invented by the Chinese around a 1000 years ago. It is a low explosive consisting of 75 % potassium nitrate (KNO3), 10% sulfur (S), and 15% charcoal (fuel). It is used to make sound, lift objects, make fuses, and used in other combinations to make a variety of different effects.

the release of effects into the air by an aerial firework
bursting charge an explosive charge at the center of the shell that causes the shell to burst open, with a flash and explosion
chemical reaction

a chemical process in which one or more substances are changed into others


a chemical process in which a substance reacts vigorously with oxygen to produce heat and light


Fireworks Clipartto explode or cause to explode...a heat releasing chemical reaction in which the explosive decomposition of a substance forms an energy wave that travels through the substance at supersonic speeds. High explosives such as TNT and dynamite detonate; fireworks do not.


a substance that has the potential to undergo rapid chemical decomposition, producing light, heat, and large volumes of gas. The dry chemical ingredients that are inside of fireworks are explosives. They create the sounds and visible effects or provide the energy for them to work. Blackpowder and flash powder are examples.

firework any composition or device that functions by combustion or detonation and creates an sights and sounds and is used primarily for entertainment. In the United States, fireworks are divided into two groups: those that can be bought by the public (Consumer Fireworks) and those that can only be used by professionals (Display/Professional Fireworks)
flash powder

an energetic explosive mixture, used to create firecrackers and reports for shells.

a short piece of string or twine treated with a pyrotechnic composition or blackpowder.
A firework is ignited by lighting the main fuse. When this is lit it starts one fuse, which quickly carries the flame down to the lift charge, and a time delay fuse, which continues to burn toward the cardboard compartments containing the stars, as the firework is hurtling skyward. The time delay fuse is arranged so that the shell explodes at the right altitude. 

ground device
fireworks that ignite on the ground, such as, fountains, spinners 

the transfer of fire from one source to another 

lift charge

an explosive charge, made of black powder, beneath a shell used to lift the shell into the sky.



long tubes made of cardboard, fiberglass, plastic or metal from which shells are launched, are numbered for their firing sequence.


periodic table an organized arrangement of chemical elements based upon similar properties

a slow burning wooden stick, about 12" long, used for lighting fireworks. Punk is made of compressed sawdust and is ignited at the tip using a match or lighter and is then used to ignite the fuse on fireworks.

the art of making and setting off fireworks
report explosion; the noise of the loud bang or boom produced by the pyrotechnic device.
loud report without stars or colors 
shell A Round Shella circular or cylindrical shaped paper casing shot into the air from a mortar. Shells produce a burst with different colors, shapes, and noise. The Chinese designed circular shells and Europeans designed shells shaped like a cylinder.

a thin wood stick or wire, usually 12" long or less, that gives off sparks while burning. About ¾ of the length is coated with a pyrotechnic composition. One quarter of the wire or stick is bare and used as the handle, the tip is ignited by a match or other open flame or another sparkler, and upon ignition, a shower of colored sparks, usually less than 10" in diameter is produced. Though they seem harmless and are considered "safe", they cause more injuries than any other firework

a pellet or small ball of flameStars

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