Commonly Used Terms 

Aerial Repeater


A device that propels multiple, repetitive pyrotechnic charges into the air. The charges produce various colors, noises and effects; some break into color bursts in the air and some display colors going up. Aerial repeaters, among the most beautiful "show pieces" of the consumer fireworks, are also called cakes or repeaters.




A rapid fire, successive pyrotechnic effect.


Beehive Effect


A visual effect appearing as if the color stars are very actively "swarming" around. A unique effect.


Bottle Rocket


A small tube (generally no larger than 1/4 inch in diameter) attached to a thin bamboo stick. The smallest rocket available.




The aerial burst of a shell that produces the color and other effects.


Bursting Charge


The internal pyrotechnic load in a shell designed to break or burst the shell at a predetermined time and height, igniting and spreading the contents of the shell.




See Aerial Repeater.


Chrysanthemum Effect


The round effect created when the stars of an aerial break burst out from a center leaving trails or spokes as it bursts out from a center. This is compared to the Peony effect of an aerial shell that does not produce trails as the shell bursts out.




A star or fiery ball whose pyrotechnic performance starts from the point of launch on the ground as it is propelled upward.




See Fountain.




The audible effect of many small, sharp bangs or cracks.




Glitter effect that simulates rain falling. Also the same as a shower effect.




A small paper cylinder (usually no more than 1½" in length) containing pyrotechnic composition that produces a bang or report. Firecrackers generally are purchased by the roll, brick or partial brick. Usually firecrackers today are strung together and fused consecutively.




A device containing pyrotechnic composition that produces audible and visual effects through combustion. All fireworks devices work by combustion, which make all fireworks potentially dangerous if mishandled. Fireworks should only be handled by responsible adults who follow all suggested fireworks safety guidelines.





A shell that produces an aerial color break or burst.




A stationary device from which a shower of sparks erupts upward from the device into a spring or fountain-like effect. The fountains may vary in color of sparks, noise and effects. A cone or cone fountain is a fountain in a conical shape.




A sparkling or multiple small flashing effect; much less distinct than a strobe.




Color stars that expand outward and appear self-propelled.


Ground Spinner


A small device that spins on the ground producing a color effect. Some may have other effects.


Jumping Jacks


A connected string of small firecrackers that "bounce" and move on the ground when ignited.


Lady Finger


A small (usually 3/4 inch) firecracker.




A very attractive device that is suspended from a tree or pole. Upon ignition the device is driven into a spin by a spray of sparks that often change color. At the end the device drops open into a tasseled, rice paper Japanese or Chinese lantern. Also called Happy Lantern and Chinese Lantern.


Lifting Charge


The pyrotechnic load designed to lift the shell into the sky to the desired height for the break or burst to occur.




Another type of tube device that propels single or multiple shells into the air that break into varying colors, effects and noises.




A tube containing a propelling pyrotechnic charge with fins attached to one end. When ignited, the expelling combustion from the tube propels the missile into the air. Some missiles have colored stars, reports or whistles.


Morning Glory


A sparkler variation of looser pyrotechnic composition on a wooden stick covered with paper. Also known as a flitter sparkler.




A tube loaded with a shell that is propelled from the tube into the air that produces a break with varying colors, effects and noises. Also called tube, mine or gun.





High illuminated visual effect.


Palm Tree Effect


A floral (aerial) pattern that forms in the shape of a palm tree.




An aerial tube device that propels a charge into the air that spreads one or more parachutes that float to the ground. The parachutes may contain flares, firecrackers, reports or other effects.


Party Popper


A hand held device loaded with a cap that produces a small report and propels confetti or crepe streamers into the air. The party popper has traditionally been associated with New Year's Eve parties.




Star that burns with a color as it is propelled into the air.


Peony effect


The round effect created when the stars of an aerial break burst out from a center without leaving trails. This is compared to the Chrysanthemum effect of an aerial shell that does leave trails or spokes as it bursts out from a center to a round effect.




A slow burning wick for lighting the fireworks.


Pyro Torch


A pencil sized lighting device that burns like a small flare for approximately five minutes. To be used to light the fireworks items like a punk.




Two or more tubes attached to a wooden base, fused together to operate sequentially.


Re-loadable Shells


A kit containing a mortar tube and 6 or more separate shells. The device is designed to fire one shell at a time. After a shell is fired, a new shot can be loaded, hence the name "re-loadable".




See Aerial Repeater




The noise of the loud bang or boom produced by the firecracker or other pyrotechnic device.




A tube or cylinder, with a cone-shaped front, containing a propelling pyrotechnic charge attached to a rigid, guiding stick. When ignited, the expelling combustion from the tube propels the tube and attached stick into the air. Some rockets are designed to produce some color, whistle, report or other minor effect at the highest point of the flight path.


Roman Candle


A narrow cardboard tube or cylinder that propels intermittent single flaming balls or stars 15-50 feet into the air. Colors, effects and noise vary.




A circular or cylindrical shaped paper casing propelled into the air from a mortar or tube that produces a color break with varying colors, effects and noise. Traditionally, circular shells are of Oriental design and cylindrical shells are of European or American design.




The pyrotechnic performance of a single tube; the propelling of a shell into the air, that then breaks into a visual and/or audible effect. The launch can be individual or with others as a flight.




A pellet that when lit produces an ash in a long, snake-like effect. These are the items that leave dark spots on the driveway.




Also called snappers and bang snaps. Small pellets are thrown on a hard surface producing a cap-like popping report.




A wire (sometimes wooden) stick coated with pyrotechnic composition that burns down from the top emitting showers of small sparks. Sparklers burn very hot and can easily burn the user if not handled carefully.




A pellet or small ball of flame.




A sharp pulsing, flashing visual effect; mostly white or silver.




Pyrotechnic chemical that produces a brilliant white flash.




A cardboard cylinder pre-loaded with a pyrotechnic charge that propels a shell into the air that breaks into a color effect. Tubes can be loaded with multiple charges with varying visual and audible effects.




A device attached to a pole or tree with a nail that propels itself via small jets in a circular motion. Colors, effects and noise vary.




A mild high pitched, shrieking noise.


Willow Effect


The effect created when the stars of an aerial burst burn longer, producing the graceful, drooping form of weeping willow branches.