How Fireworks Work has a fabulous article about how fireworks work, complete with diagrams and animations. I strongly recommend that you try this at home, kids!

Shell Name
Contains large comets, or charges in the shape of a solid cylinder, that travel outward, explode and then curve downward like the limbs of a palm tree
Round shell
Explodes in a spherical shape, usually of colored stars
Ring shell
Explodes to produce a symmetrical ring of stars
Contains stars (high charcoal composition makes them long-burning) that fall in the shape of willow branches and may even stay visible until they hit the ground
Bursts into a circle of maroon shells that explode in sequence
Bursts into a spherical pattern of stars that leave a visible trail, with an effect somewhat suggestive of the flower
Like a chrysanthemum shell, but has a core that is a different color from the outer stars
Maroon shell
Makes a loud bang
Bursts to send small tubes of incendiaries skittering outward in random paths, which may culminate in exploding stars


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