If you’ve every heard a person described as a “firecracker,” you know they must be a small yet mighty person who likes to be heard! The namesake firework is also small, only an inch or so, but emits a loud pop when lit. In fact, the main goal of a firecracker is to make a loud bang – and not much else. But, this small explosive effect still offers lots of thrill, from lighting the fuse to smelling the waft of smoke and catching the quick flash of light.
Firecrackers are popular all the world over, but sometimes go by different names such as crackers, noise makers, bungers or bangers. Firecrackers are made by wrapping a pyrotechnic composition in a heavy paper casing and sticking in a fuse. Before 1920, firecrackers got their bang from standard gun powder – also called black powder. This mixture of gunpowder contained sulfur, charcoal and potassium nitrate to give the firecracker a simple flash and report. Over time, manufacturers made improvements to these fireworks by dropping the black powder and substituting flash powder which uses potassium perchlorate, aluminum powder and sometimes sulfur to create a louder pop and brighter light. Some brands of firecrackers are marketing that their items are super-charged with titanium for an even whiter flash and bigger bang.
Fire crackers are sold in a variety of quantities to suit the demand of customers. Usually, the fuses are braided together and the firecrackers are sold in packs or bricks ranging from small sizes of 4 to 6 firecrackers (often called “penny packs”) to larger packs or “bricks” containing up to a 120 or so firecrackers. Belts and rolls are also available for those folks who really want to bang it up with 1,000 through 20,000 or more fireworks. These “celebration rolls” are popular for Chinese New Year, the Fourth of July and other times that you want to make a big bang.
Often considered a rite of passage in a boy’s childhood, lighting off firecrackers isn’t just child’s play. While it is a fun past-time, the lighting needs to be supervised by an adult at all times. The laws about selling, buying and using firecrackers and other fireworks vary widely depending on where you reside. For your personal safety and the well-being of others, use common sense, obey the law and follow the manufacturer’s instructions when lighting off firecrackers and other fireworks.
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