AskDefine | Define sparkler

Dictionary Definition



1 diamonds; "look at the ice on that dame!" [syn: ice]
2 a firework that burns slowly and throws out a shower of sparks

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. A hand-held firework that emits sparks.
  2. A gem or ornament that sparkles.

Extensive Definition

A sparkler is a type of hand-held firework that burns slowly while emitting coloured flames, sparks, and many effects.
In the United Kingdom, a sparkler is often used by children at bonfire and fireworks displays on Guy Fawkes Night, the fifth of November each year.


The "classic" type of sparkler consists of a thin metal rod approximately 20 cm (8 inches) long that has been dipped in a thick batter of pyrotechnic composition and allowed to dry. This composition is rich in a metallic fuel such as aluminium or iron, which when burned creates silver or gold coloured sparks, respectively. The fuel typically contains potassium nitrate or sometimes potassium chlorate as an oxidizer, sometimes with sulfur and carbon. Coloured flame can be achieved by addition of nitrates or chlorides of barium (light green), copper (blue/green), or strontium (red).
A more modern type of sparkler, known as the "Morning Glory", consists of a long, thin paper tube filled with composition and attached to a wooden rod using brightly-coloured tissue paper and ribbon. Several different compositions can be packed into a single tube, resulting in a sparkler that changes colour. However, some people take the tubes, break them in half, and spill the powder out in a container, such as a butter container, and throw a match in. These "sparkler bombs", while not bombs, do emit an incredibly bright and high flame, albeit briefly (about 1 second). Sparkler bombs have also been made using classic sparklers by binding many together and lighting them, or crushing the solid pyrotechnic composition into a fine powder. Sparklers that are bound together, when burned will produce a bright flash with an extremely loud report. Sparklers that are either crushed or poorly bound will either flash brightly or travel like a rocket. Due to fire and projectile danger, both are not recommended. The resulting device may also exceed legal limits on firework size, and be illegal to manufacture or possess without a permit; in the U.S., devices with more than 50 milligrams of explosive composition require a permit.

Safety issues

Sparklers are responsible for the vast majority of legal firework-related injuries, but mainly as a result of parents giving sparklers to young children. The devices burn at a high temperature (as hot as 1800 to 3000° F, or 1000 to 1600° C), depending on the fuel and oxidizer used. This can cause devastating burns to hands and faces or ignite clothing. The government recommends adults to ensure children are wearing non-flammable clothing or materials which can not catch fire easily. Sparklers, as with all fireworks, present a fire hazard. This is especially true in drier areas; in Australia, for instance, sparkler-related bushfire accidents have led to their banning at public outdoor events during summer like Australia Day celebrations. It is always wise to wear gloves while handling lit sparklers.

Sparklers in art and pop culture

Art group monochrom ignited 10,000 bound sparklers as a "symbolic liberation", because "sparklers are bound to various monotheistic rituals" and stand as representatives "of all symbols that have been enslaved and abused by the monotheistic world religions."

Sparklers in the U.S.

In 1985, B.J. Alan Co. (Phantom Fireworks) acquired the assets of a Chicago sparkler manufacturer, moved the operations to Youngstown, Ohio and established the Diamond Sparkler Manufacturing Co., Inc. Diamond is the last producing sparkler manufacturing plant in the United States. During its peak manufacturing season, Diamond's production capabilities reach approximately 800,000 sparklers per day ranging in length's from 10 inches all the way up to 36 inches.


sparkler in Danish: Stjernekaster
sparkler in German: Wunderkerze
sparkler in Esperanto: Stelŝprucilo
sparkler in Luxembourgish: Späizmännchen
sparkler in Dutch: Sterretje (vuurwerk)
sparkler in Russian: Бенгальский огонь
sparkler in Finnish: Ilotulitus#T.C3.A4htisadetikku
sparkler in Swedish: Tomtebloss
sparkler in Ukrainian: Бенгальський вогонь
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