Fireworks 101
Fireworks 101 is here to help you learn a little more about the terminology used to describe fireworks.

For safety information please visit our fireworks safety page.

The interest in fireworks has exploded over the past few years in large part to technology.  Today information is everywhere and fireworks consumers are taking advantage of it to hone in on a fireworks display that provides them with more of the effects they desire.

Fountain vs Aerial – A fountain releases sparks with different effects and sounds a few feet into the air maintaining a low profile whereas an aerial is actually launching rounds high into the air creating a larger display.  A quick way to determine if the firework you are looking at is a fountain or aerial is to read the warning label.  If it says emits showers of sparks, it is a fountain.  If the label says shoots flaming balls, you are dealing with an aerial.  There are occasions where the label says both and in that case it has a fountain effect while still providing an aerial display.

Mortars – are a type of aerial that you manually load in a launching tube one at a time.

Cakes – are another type of aerial where a single fuse launches multiple aerial rounds.

Aerial Break Descriptive Terms:

Salute – produces a quick flash and loud report without a display break.

Peony – the most commonly seen break, it is spherical in shape without comet tails in the break.

Chrysanthemum – is much like a Peony, but has comet trails in the break.

Willow – like a weeping willow the tails on the break remain visible as they droop towards the ground.

Palm – is similar to a willow, but with fewer and larger comets that give the appearance of a palm frond.


Here are some great links that discuss additional fireworks terms:

The Fireworks Alliance Glossary of Fireworks Terms

American Pyrotechnics Association Fireworks Terms

American Pyrotechnics Association Display Glossary

PBS Name That Firework


Fireworks 101