Fireworks Guide: Ice Fountains
Low smoke indoor fountains for mounting on cakes and bottles.
- Bright, silver fountains intended for indoor use.
- Can be used on cakes or attached to bottles with a suitable clip.
- Low smoke and no hot sparks.
- Safe for use on food.
- Burn times typically 40 seconds or so.
- By far the most spectacular indoor effect available to consumers.
A closer look at an ice fountain
Ice fountains – called that because their fallout is cold and thus suitable for use indoors and on food – are also known as cake fountains. Virtually all of them are variations on a standard design:
The nozzle and lighting point: You will see the white internal pyrotechnic composition at this end. This is where you light the ice fountain.
Main tube: A card tube usually around five inches long and decorated in a variety of colours or foil designs.
Mounting pin: This is what you insert into the cake or other food to stop the fountain falling over.
Please note that on some ice fountains, the mounting pin is initially placed over the live nozzle end as a safety cap. You’ll know this is the case because the exposed end looks hollow, as shown below. You must first swap the cap to the other end before you attempt to light the fountain or nothing will happen.
Mounting ice fountains on bottles
An optional plastic clip is available which enables you to easily attach the fountains to the neck of champagne or wine bottles. This looks a lot neater than using tape and they can be reused:
Lighting ice fountains
These are very easy to light. Simply touch a flame on the end of the tube – ice fountains do not have fuses – ensuring that you’ve swapped the cap around if it was being used as a safety cap. The best lighters to use are those with an intense flame such as a chef’s torch or BBQ lighter:
What type of effects to expect
Most ice fountains are silver spark effects. Some are marketed as “premium” effects which means they usually burn for a little longer or have slightly less smoke. However, in practice the difference between various brands is minimal and personally I’ve found even the cheaper ones to be perfectly adequate.
The standard size ice fountains burn for around 40 seconds with sparks up to a foot or so.
Some ice fountains are marketed as having a specific colour such as pink or blue. Please note in these cases the fountains burn with a coloured flame rather than sparks. It’s less dramatic than sparks but the colours can be nice and blue and pink are ideal for gender reveal celebrations.
Some ice fountains sold as being coloured are actually referring to the tube’s wrapping paper and not the actual effect. If you need a specific coloured flame be sure to double check when buying; ideally watch a retailer’s video clip of the fountain if available.
How much do they cost?
They vary a lot in price but expect to pay, for a single packet of 4, around £3-£5. Significant discounts are available from most firework shops or ice fountain sellers if you buy in bulk, for example if you are a restaurant or night club.
Novelty ice fountains (see below) usually retail for a little more.
Numbered ice fountains and novelty designs
If you are celebrating a birthday or anniversary, fountains with numbers on the side are available. They work in exactly the same way as the standard fountains above, but are a nice touch for such occasions.
You can also buy ice fountains with other designs on the side, such as Halloween decals.
Also available are musical fountains. Once started, the flame burns through a small wire across the top, activating a built in musical effect, such as happy birthday. These novelty fountains are great fun for birthdays and the likes. I use them a lot myself and find they’re so naff, they’re a great laugh. Particularly as the tune won’t stop playing until you physically destroy the fountain!
Ice fountains FAQ
Ice fountains are small fireworks suitable for indoor use on cakes or attached to bottles. They are low smoke and create a pretty fountain effect, usually silver.
Yes. They have been designed specifically for indoor use and emit very little smoke and no hot fallout.
Yes. You insert them into food (such as a cake) using the supplied plastic pin. This is the only part that is in contact with the food. There is no hot fallout or residue. Some premium brands such as Pyrogiochi further certify the plastic as "food safe" (though for general home use and given the short time the pin is in the food, it's not something I have personally worried about).
Most ice fountains burn for around 40 seconds or so. There is no fuse on ice fountains - you light the top and they begin immediately.
It's best to use a smokeless and strong flamed lighter, such as a chef's torch, turbo lighter, windproof lighter or BBQ lighter. Using old fashioned matches isn't half as easy as using something with a good flame (spoken from experience!).
Yes, it's perfectly safe to use more than one ice fountain on a cake.
It's best to check first, but in general as these are low impact, quiet and virtually smoke free, I've not heard of any issues with using them.
Yes, ice fountains look really nice when attached to a bottle of champagne or similar. You can use sellotape but it looks a bit naff so I recommend buying a purpose-made plastic clip when you purchase your ice fountains (it can be reused).
The card casing gets warm but not burning hot. They are safe to handle and remove from the cake or bottle immediately afterwards.
They cool very quickly; just remove after use and leave to one side, say on the draining board, then throw away in your normal rubbish. You don't need to soak them in water like you might do with a spent sparkler.
Ice fountains are significantly better than sparklers for use on cakes. They not only create a more spectacular effect but they give off little smoke and unlike sparklers don't remain burning hot immediately after use. Another concern with sparklers is residue from the sparks falling on the cake; ice fountains are free from this.
Yes and no. Most ice fountains do not explicitly state this on the warning label, nonetheless the casing does not get too hot to hold. Ice fountains that are labelled as handheld are usually a little bigger but in practice - and I have fired a lot - there doesn't seem to be much difference in how hot the casing gets. So it's a reserved yes with the caveat that you do so at your own risk and perhaps do a test firing outside so you can double check.
Limitations of chemistry mean that coloured sparks are very hard to create, so coloured ice fountains tend to be more of a coloured flame than a fountain. Although less spectacular than silver ones, they can still look nice for a particular colour theme like gender reveals. Note: Some ice fountains sold as coloured are referring to the tube's wrapping paper and not the effect, double-check before buying.
Ice fountains are flammable and classed as explosives (usually 1.4S) so they should not be sent through the normal post. Mail order sellers should be sending them out by a courier who is licensed to carry them.
This is nearly always because the plastic pin is on the wrong end. Some ice fountains swap the pin from the inert end to the live end so it doubles as a safety cap during transport. You need to swap it back over before trying to light it. Don't worry, we've all been there! Not every brand does this: The live end is the one where you can see white powder flush with the top of the tube.
Yes and they are absolutely hilarious - I frequently use Pyrogiochi's "Happy Birthday" candle at every opportunity. The tune starts automatically when the flame burns through an internal wire. This is one of my favourite pyro products ever.
Yes - most firework retailers and ice fountain sellers offer significant discounts for bulk purchasers such as night clubs and restaurants.
Personally I find standard ice fountains to be big enough, last long enough and be smoke-free enough for general use. Premium fountains can last a little longer, have a little less smoke and sometimes more sparks.
No. Ice fountains eject sparks to around 1-2ft and those sparks are cool. I can't imagine any situation where your ceiling might be in danger!
Most ice fountains are all of similar sizes with sparks being ejected to 1-2ft. The only bigger version I know of in consumer fireworks is Pyrogiochi's "Vulcano Moon" which is a small conic fountain (so it won't insert into a cake or attach to a bottle) and this ejects sparks up to around 4-5ft sending everyone into a panic indoors (though seemed perfectly safe in my tests). Bigger effects than this are only available to professionals and include spark machines and stage pyro. Note: Never use outdoor fireworks indoors!
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