We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What are the Different Types of Illegal Fireworks?

By Pablo Garcia
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
MyLawQuestions is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At MyLawQuestions, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

In the US, the guidelines of the Federal Hazardous Substances Act (FHSA) determine the different types of illegal fireworks. Whether a particular item is illegal generally depends on the amount of gunpowder it contains. However, states and municipalities may enact more restrictive definitions of illegal fireworks than those found in the FHSA. Some may ban any fireworks except those used for public displays by professional pyrotechnicians.

Consumer fireworks, those classified by FHSA as class “C” fireworks, must contain less than 50 milligrams of gunpowder to be legal. This is about the amount of ground powder from one-half an aspirin. Some of the specific types of fireworks considered illegal are silver salutes, cherry bombs and M 80s. The “M” class of fireworks consists of large firecrackers that can measure from one to six inches (2.5 - 15.4 cm) long.

Fuses on fireworks must burn for at least three but not more than nine seconds. Otherwise, under FHSA guidelines, they are illegal. All fireworks must have safety labels and contain safety instructions for their use. If fireworks without these warning labels and instructions are illegal. Aerial devices, which explode after launch, cannot have a noise effect that is more than what could be made by one hundred thirty milligrams of gunpowder.

Kits and components for making illegal fireworks are themselves considered illegal. Fireworks are illegal if they look like candy or food. Examples are “Dragon eggs,” which look like chocolate candy kisses wrapped in shiny foil, and “cracker balls,” which resemble cereal. The prohibition against these types of fireworks is for the protection of small children.

Class “B” fireworks are intended for public display use by professionals under strict safety guidelines and not for use by the public. Consumer use of display fireworks is illegal and extremely dangerous — only licensed pyrotechnicians should handle display fireworks.

Depending on the state, laws governing fireworks may be more restrictive than FHSA prohibitions. The Consumer Public Safety Commission (CPSC) has a list of all the states that allow consumer use of class B fireworks. The majority of states do. The CPSC also has information available on the safe use of legal fireworks.

The use of illegal fireworks is widespread and difficult to prevent. Estimates put the number of fireworks injuries each year in the thousands. However, fireworks safety advocates believe that public safety campaigns have begun to reduce the number of yearly injuries. Safety groups recommend that very young children not play with any type of fireworks.

MyLawQuestions is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By anon1005098 — On Jun 22, 2021

I always thought they used magnesium and potassium permanganate as an explosive. News to me that they are using actual gunpowder. I thought real gunpowder was black not gray.

By anon956256 — On Jun 12, 2014

Yeah, I had cracker balls and cap sticks too. The cracker balls had some kind of sand in them that would sting your legs if you had shorts on. After a couple of those, I would run inside for jeans. Nowadays, the little darlings' mommies would sue.

By anon246715 — On Feb 10, 2012

Loved those smoking cap sticks when I was a little kid. I would like to find those again. After the smoking cap stick blew up, there would still be an intact end that you could unroll to see that they were made from rolled Chinese newspaper.

By anon192272 — On Jun 30, 2011

In my day crackerballs, also called torpedoes, were colored paper balls about 1/4 inch in diameter. These came in triangular shaped packages of 10.

When thrown on a hard surface, like a sidewalk, they didn't just crackle, they exploded with enough powder and report to leave a black mark on the concrete.

Another toy was the smoking cap stick. A paper tube with a red tip which was lit by striking it on a matchbook. The tip would flare and begin to smoke. You'd toss it away and about 15 seconds later, the thing would explode with the force of an inch and a half firecracker.

Stuff from the good old days, when kids were taught to have common sense and not worshiped as little dummies made of cut glass.

MyLawQuestions, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

MyLawQuestions, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.