Take the word apart and you’ll understand what pyrotechnics is all about. The term is based on the Greek words “pyro” meaning fire and “technics,” a plural noun that means theory, principles, or study of an art or a process. Hence, pyrotechnics can be considered the artistic process of working with fire. Expanding the definition even further, some scientifically explain pyrotechnics as the process of creating chemical reactions to produce heat, light, gas, smoke and sound for the manufacture of fireworks.

Explosions, smoke, flames, fireworks and other pyrotechnic special effects are heavily used in the entertainment industry.  When you work as a pyrotechnician, you help to plan, build and execute these special effects for motion pictures, music concerts, sporting events, stage shows and special celebrations. But, using pyrotechnics isn’t just limited to the professionals; there is a huge market of consumer grade fireworks and pyrotechnic effects available to the general public.

Common categories of consumer pyrotechnics include ground items such as fountains and spinners, airborne items such as aerial shells and roman candles, noisemakers such as fireworks and novelty items.  Fountains and spinners sit on the ground, and according to the design, either spew out streams of sparks upward or use a jet of sparks to force a wild spinning movement on the ground. Aerial fireworks are very popular for good reason – the wide and wonderfully varied range of effects from huge chrysanthemum bursts to trailing comets to parachutes that can be launched in the day. Novelty items are fun little entry-level fireworks that can include sparklers, smoke bombs, confetti poppers and other interesting items that are suited to a wide range of ages.  If you are just looking to make noise, firecrackers are the pyrotechnic effects you want – grab a penny pack or a celebration roll of thousands of firecrackers fused together and have a blast! 

When planning your enjoyment of pyrotechnics, always keep safety as priority number one. Follow the manufacturer’s lighting instructions and safety guidelines for each type of firework, each will have slightly different specifications. Also, it is always important to have a bucket of water on hand to fully extinguish used sparklers, fountains and other fireworks – they can remain deceivingly hot for a long time. Also, educate yourself on the local laws and ordinances governing the purchase and use of fireworks in your jurisdiction – the laws regarding pyrotechnics vary widely from area to area.

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