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.

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
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:

Cobra Tail
Black Cat Cobra Tail

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.