Fireworks Guide: Chinese Crackers

Strings of loud bangers (now a professional-only firework) or an imitation effect (consumer firework).

Key information

  • Ground effect firework: A string of hundreds or thousands of individual bangers detonate in quick succession.
  • Banned in the UK as a consumer firework; still available to professionals.
  • The imitation and significantly weaker Chinese crackers available to consumers are in fact a crackling powder effect contained in a long tube (classed as a fountain or tube of crackling granules) rather than a string of bangers; see below.
  • Guides to other types of fireworks can be found in the Firework Guides main menu.

Another casualty of UK-specific legislation brought in during the late 90s, Chinese crackers comprise of a coil with hundreds or thousands of bangers each connected by a quick burning fuse. Popular before their ban as a noise-making ground effect, these produced quite a racket. And a considerable amount of red paper litter all over the place!

Chinese crackers at a daylight professional display.

Having been banned for sale to the public these are now a Category F4 firework meaning they can only be sold to and used by professional display companies. So whilst it’s perfectly possible if you’re hiring a pro fireworks team to help you celebrate that they might be able to source and fire Chinese crackers for you, you won’t be able to buy them yourself as a UK consumer.

More Chinese Crackers
More Chinese crackers, again at a professional display.

Imitation Chinese crackers

Please note that any firework currently sold to consumers as a “Chinese cracker-like effect” is not in fact a string of bangers, but a long tube of crackling powder. Technically these are usually classed as either fountains or “batteries of crackling granules”. You uncoil these and place them on the ground or hang from a post. The resulting effect is a lot of intense crackles. It doesn’t do a bad job of imitating a real Chinese cracker but it’s not quite the same thing.

This type of firework has become somewhat harder to source since we changed from British Standards over to the EU’s CE regulations as fewer importers are making them, but they are still available with an example shown below:

Black Cat Cobra Tail

Chinese crackers FAQ

You can't. They were banned in the late 90s in the UK and are only available now to professionals. You can however buy an imitation effect which contains a long string of crackling granules rather than bangers, such as Black Cat's Cobra Tail.

They were banned in the late 90s in the UK along with bangers, air bombs, aerial shells and other items. Only professionals can still buy and use them.

Be warned: EU-based web shops selling items that are banned in the UK are operating illegally in supplying these goods to the UK (several have been raided and shut down). Buying illegal fireworks and having them shipped illegally is a bad idea for so many hopefully obvious reasons.

Although the UK adopted the CE certification for fireworks when part of the EU, additional UK-specific laws on top of this legislation continued to ban Chinese crackers for UK consumers even though they may be perfectly legal in other European countries.

The closest you can get in consumer fireworks is an imitation cracker that consists of a long tube of crackling granules, such as Black Cat's Cobra Tail. You uncoil it like a roll of crackers. It's not as loud as proper crackers but doesn't do a bad job. That really is the only alternative product I can recommend.

In the UK, Chinese crackers are Category F4: Professional use only.

Further information and next steps

If you are following the Beginner’s Guides then you can click here to return to that page. Alternatively you can click here to see the main menu of each firework type in this section if you want to read more (or click on the menu at the top of this page to access all of my guides).

If you have any questions then please feel free to join my Fireworks Forum and ask away. Members are always here to help beginners and no question is too silly.

If you’re ready to buy fireworks for your display then the Buying Fireworks section will guide you further.