Are you setting off fireworks this year? Behind the dazzling displays of fireworks, there are many hidden principles of chemistry and physics. Here are the five most common types of fireworks in Taiwan:



Firecrackers are just some gunpowder sealed tightly in a thick paper roll. After the gunpowder ignites, it generates heat and quickly explodes into a ball of gas. Because the paper roll is tightly sealed, the gas breaks the paper roll and creates a loud sound.

In recent years, due to environmental considerations, there have been improvements to firecrackers so that they produce fewer sparks and scraps of paper.

Bottle rockets


The essential difference between a bottle rocket (or skyrocket) and a firecracker is that one end is not sealed off. The gas discharged by the gunpowder is expelled through a small hole, allowing the firework to take off into the sky. A second charge is usually inserted into the top to produce a loud bang and bright flash.



Butterfly fireworks, also known as Catherine wheels or trompillos, work similarly to bottle rockets, but have their center of thrust offset such that they spin into the sky.

In Thailand, sometimes huge butterflies are constructed, like in this video:



Sparklers, also called fairy sticks, are probably the safest firework you can set off. They are simply sticks covered in various chemicals that emit colorful sparks when lit.

The main danger produced by sparklers is the temperature of the stick itself, so it is a good idea to have a bucket of water ready to douse the sparklers.

Snake fireworks


One type of firework is expected to be especially popular this year. It won't produce bright colors or fly around, only a long stream of simulated sugary fecal matter.

When lit, the device will combust some type of simple sugar and produce a long stream of charred carbon.

Be careful out there

  • When setting off fireworks, check for the following:
  • Ensure fireworks were bought from a legitimate vendor and have safety marks.
  • Only discharge fireworks in an open place
  • Avoid setting fireworks off in locations where flammable materials are stored, such as gas stations.
  • Do not fire them in the direction of people, cars or buildings
  • Make sure that embers are fully extinguished, and ensure that you have the tools to do so.

Read next: ‘Don’t Blame China’ — Education Needed on Air Pollution in Taiwan

Editor: Morley J Weston