Fireworks Guide: Screech, Bottle & Mini-Rockets

Small rockets but now banned in the UK.

Key information

  • Tiny rockets usually sold in packets of 5 or 10.
  • Many also screech in flight.
  • Banned in the UK as part of legislation to remove items “of erratic flight”.
  • Commonly called bottle rockets as often launched from milk bottles or similar in the old days.
  • Larger rockets with stable flights are still perfectly legal in the UK.
  • Guides to other types of fireworks can be found in the Firework Guides main menu.

Why where screech and bottle rockets banned in the UK?

On the face of it, mini-rockets like these didn’t do a lot of harm. In fact they were great fun, especially the ones that screeched and then banged. However, the powers that be decided that small rockets, like bangers and airbombs, were too much of a nuisance firework and also in the pocket money price range, so too appealing to youth! Thus they were banned with legislation targeting their apparent “erratic flight”.

A selection of screech rockets from the noughties.

These tiny rockets were often launched from milk bottles or similar, giving them the informal description of “bottle rockets”.

Note that larger rockets – deemed to be stable in flight – are still fully legal in the UK. And although it has become a rare effect in rockets, some are available that screech too, just a bit bigger than mini-rockets! You can read more in my Rockets section.

The images above used with thanks to Air Bomb King.

Readers over a certain age who remember bottle rockets should be advised that modern rockets on sale to consumers in the UK should never be fired from a bottle. They are simply too big and you risk the bottle tipping over before the rocket takes off. Use the supplied launch tube.

Screech and bottle rocket FAQ

The small screech rockets that simply screeched then banged - usually sold in packets of 5 or 10 for a few pounds - are no longer legal in the UK. They were banned under "erratic flight" legislation. Larger rockets are still perfectly legal in the UK.

Screech effects in larger rockets than the banned mini-rockets are quite rare, but occasionally they do come to market. The problem is cost, compared to the old screech rockets which were quite cheap. If you like screeching sounds you are far better to look at cakes and barrages instead, as there are dozens of barrages on the market that produce multiple whistles and screeches. Ask your local fireworks shop for help finding them.

The name "bottle rocket" comes from the fact that in the old days most were launched from a milk bottle or similar. Be warned that no current rocket on sale in the UK today should be fired from a bottle - they are too top-heavy and can fall over before they lift off. Always use the supplied launching tube instead.

Although screech and mini rockets have been banned, you can still buy good quality rocket packs for under £10, usually with 5 or so rockets included. However for the best performance look for 1.3G classed rockets which will bang better than 1.4G rockets. Cheap 14G rocket packs are quite tame.

They were banned because new legislation outlawed items of "erratic flight" amongst other things that also banned bangers, airbombs, screech rockets and other pocket money fireworks deemed to be a nuisance. 

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