Tag Archives: Flash powder

How Fireworks Work

How Fireworks Work !

How are fireworks made?

Rubber, plastic, penicillin, Teflon, super glue, Coca-Cola, Cornflakes, fireworks …. What’s the connection?

All these common products were invented accidentally!!

It is believed that around 2000 years ago a Chinese monk named Li Tian was mixing up some commonly used kitchen items. Saltpetre, also known as potassium nitrate (created from purifying poop!!) charcoal or possibly sugar as the fuel and sulphur in very specific quantities were all combined. The Chinese people named “Huo Yao” or fire chemical. This mixture became the basis for gun or black powder and hasn’t changed since and is still used today as a lift or burst charge for the “stars”.

Marco Polo was the first European to witness this new advance and immediately saw its potential passing it onto the crusaders in Europe to bring back over to the UK.

Roger Bacon, another monk and noted 13th-century alchemist first looked into the composition and concluded that the elements had very specific purposes. He concluded that charcoal or sugar was used as the fuel to enable the burn to take place, while saltpetre works as an oxidiser removing electrons from the equation, sulphur sits on the fence as a binder slowing down the nitrates reaction.

Add to this the holy grail for the passionate pyro professional …. FLASH POWDER. Flash powder burns at a much faster rate than black powder and is more common these days being added to the mix in the early 1900s and was used initially in ‘flash’ photography. The rules in relation to flash are simple, the more you use the faster the reaction. This may be a good time to mention that 1.3g fireworks can contain up to 25% flash powder whereas 1.4g only contains up to 5%. Ergo 1.3g is up to five times better. Add to the mix a few chemicals to give you some colour, Barium will give you a nice green starburst, where strontium will produce a vivid cherry red.

The stars (or to the non-pyro-head the effects) are made by combining the black powder with other elements, originally formed as a sort of slurry, they are then heated up to in some cases boiling point, then the additional chemicals to produce the different effects are added. This mix is then dried out and milled into balls or cut it cubes (think of an OXO cube and you are not far off). Pack the stars in a coat of black powder coated rice husks, pack tightly into a tube or shell casing and hey presto you have a firework.

Since the early 1500’s fireworks have been used to celebrate Royal weddings, birthdays, coronations and New Year (in fact any occasion you can possibly imagine has at some point been celebrated with fireworks) all from a relatively simple chemical reaction.


This Is Why We Are Called EPIC FIREWORKS – Black Powder (Gun Powder) Vs Flash Powder

Check the video here that shows the difference in power between black powder and flash powder.

Fireworks come in all shapes and sizes and all manner of packaging. But it is whats inside that counts.

Flash Powder and Black Powder, they may sound similar but there is a big difference. Black powder is your good, old-fashioned, no-nonsense gunpowder that we all know and love, it does the job and is reliable but doesn’t do anything fancy.

Flash powder, on the other hand, is the good stuff. Flash powder is what makes a firework go bang, it’s like the active ingredient. Without flash powder, it is not possible to make a firework bang loudly or explode and send light and colour flying through the air.If you want to see impressive effects get flash powder if you want to see stars just farting and falling go for black powder.

So, how do you tell the difference? Well, you know those fireworks you buy from the supermarket every year that manage to disappoint you time and time again. Those are black powder. You know the fireworks your neighbours use that are always much louder and really explode and look awesome? Those are flash powder. They are not illegal or more expensive, just a little harder to come by. That’s where we come in. We deliver fireworks all over the UK and we guarantee the best quality fireworks available to the general public in this country.

These 2 simple formulae demonstrate just how it works:

Black Powder = Rubbish Burst

Flash Powder = Quality Burst

Ok, they are not formulae as such but you get the idea. Always check what is inside your firework before you buy. If in any doubt, don’t buy it.

Another good rule of thumb is 1.4G and 1.3G, these are forms of classification used by the government to determine the explosiveness of a firework product. Another great and easy to remember the pair of formulae now:

1.4G = So so

1.3G = Awesome

Simples! (click)

Watch this video and it will explain all. If you have any questions leave a comment or call the Epic Team and we will happily talk you through it. Fireworks should be excellent all the time, our mission is to bring you the best fireworks allowed by law in the UK.


UK Fireworks: A Buyers Guide/low noise fireworks

Quiet Fireworks are a common request in a fireworks shop. Many people do not want to frighten animals or young audience members and so prefer low noise fireworks to louder fireworks.

How to choose quiet fireworks:

There are a few things to look out for which will help you buy quiet fireworks for your display. Below are listed Epic Fireworks Top Tips for buying quiet fireworks.

  • Watch the video
  • Check the category
  • Check the Bore Size (size of the tube)
  • Check the classification
  • Ask Ask Ask

This is all a lot simpler than it may first appear. The first one, watch the video, is a no-brainer. If you have seen a video before you buy a firework you have a much better idea of the effect you are likely to see/hear. This is true when you are buying any firework. Always insist on watching the video.

Consumer Fireworks in the UK are split into distinct categories, Cat 2 and Cat 3.

Cat 2 Fireworks (also called garden fireworks) are generally a lot smaller and do not bang. They also have a safety distance of 5 metres so they are great for kids and back gardens – hence the name “garden fireworks”.

Cat 3 fireworks (the good stuff) are larger and can contain bangs (although not necessarily) and much bigger effects. These have a safety distance of 25 metres.

If you like loud bangs, stick to cat 3.

The bore size (the internal diameter of the firework tube) makes a difference. In very general terms the bigger the tube, the bigger the bang. This is not a hard and fast rule but it works for most.

Classification is perhaps the most important thing to look out for here. We have already talked about categories, classification is quite different. Fireworks are split into 2 types, 1.4G and 1.3G. 1.3G Fireworks contain flash powder and can have very loud bangs, up to 120db. 1.4G fireworks contain less than 5% flash powder (the stuff that makes the bang) and so do not bang as much as pop.

If you live in the UK the vast majority of fireworks shops will now only sell 1.4G Fireworks (the quiet ones). In fact without going to a specialist all year round firework retailer it will be very hard for you to find a 1.3G firework. This means it should be easier to know you are buying quiet pyrotechnics. The key thing is to ask the sales assistant. They should know what they are selling and should be able to tell you straight away if they are 1.3 or 1.4G and if they are Cat 3 or Cat 4. If the shop you are in cannot tell you the difference, its time to find another shop.

I hope this has helped you in your quest for low noise barrages and quiet rockets. Please leave any questions in the comments box and happy hunting!