Trafalgar Fireworks' ECO Sparklers
Standard and giant sized ECO wooden sparklers reviewed.
When browsing in Trafalgar Fireworks’ amazing firework shop (it’s full of so many goodies), their new ECO sparklers caught my eyes for two reasons. Firstly, the giant version is ridiculously big at 1m in length! Secondly, the “ECO” claim and green packaging. I was curious to find out how “eco” applies to sparklers but, more importantly, just how long does a 1m sparkler burn for?
Video review of ECO sparklers
If you prefer, you can watch a video version of this review below, from my YouTube channel. Otherwise keep reading for my written review and photos.
The "eco" aspect
Let me delve into the ecological aspect straightaway. Instead of a metal wire core, these sparklers have a wooden core on to which the sparkler composition is dipped.
Whilst this might not be a new thing elsewhere in the world (and I am sure sparklers originally would have been made from wood), it is quite a novelty here in the UK. In fact since 1996 or so I have bought sparklers every year from various sources and they have all been made of metal.
The packet says this is from “a naturally renewable resource” though doesn’t qualify this any further.
On paper then the two obvious advantages of a wooden sparkler should be the lack of a red hot wire core which will still be hot for a while after use, plus the lack of metal at the end to dispose of. Although here in the UK we do have recycling bins for metal items, it’s unclear whether a spent sparkler can actually be recycled given that it ends up coated in a burnt residue. I’ve not been able to get a definitive answer on this so if you know for certain please let me know and I will update my sparkler advice page!
A look around the packets
The green colour and word “ECO” are quite prominent on both sizes of sparkler packet (which is a card sleeve, something else to note since that can be recycled unlike a plastic one). In fact as far as I can see the wording is the same on both sparkler sizes, with safety advice quite typical of this type of product. Feel free to click on the images below to take a tour of the packet:
Do not use over decking warning
One part of the label not typical of sparklers however is the clear warning not to use these over decking or anything which could scorch. This is because, the label says, the sparklers “drop spent ash”.
Whether this is significant or not is something I will be putting to the test later in this review when I take these out and light them.
Some technical details
I realise these are “just” sparklers but I can’t help myself when it comes to getting all anal with any kind of pyro, even sparklers. So on that note here is a summary of the main features of these:
- Giant ECO sparklers are 100cm (40 inches) long and come in packets of 4, currently £4.99 per pack.
- Standard sized ECO sparklers are 36cm (14 inches) long and come in packets of 5, currently £1.50 per pack (RRP £1.99).
- NEC (powder content) per sparkler is 23g for giant and 5g for normal size.
- Prices taken from Trafalgar Fireworks’ website in August 2021 and may obviously change.
Both sizes of sparkler are quite well-endowed when it comes to powder content. As a comparison to start with, Trafalgar’s own 45cm (18 inch) metal sparklers have 4.5g NEC each, less than either of the above.
Worked out per inch of coating, 18″ metal sparklers have 9.5″ (24cm) coated to give an NEC per inch of 0.47g. Compare that to the smaller 14″ ECO sparklers which have a generous 8″ (20cm) coated to give a higher NEC per inch of 0.63g.
But both are dwarfed by the giant sparkler; 25″ (62cm) of these are coated giving an NEC per inch of 0.92g.
I should point out also that the overall NEC of the giant sparkler packets (92g for 4) is more than many smaller supermarket selection boxes. In my video above I give an example of the basic Standard box purchased from Tesco having 11g less (81g total) than a packet of these sparklers!
The sparklers in action
Over now then to my test area (a patio table and a brick!). My first test was to put a standard size ECO sparkler up against a standard metal sparkler. I noted that the ECO sparkler burned much brighter and with thicker sparks. This wasn’t just down to the bigger NEC per inch, it appears that the wooden core also burns, generating additional flame, light and heat:
The 14″ ECO sparkler burned for a total of 1 min 12 secs which is a great duration (18″ metal sparkler was 1 min 40 secs for comparison).
Over now to the giant sparkler. This burned with even more sparks though because for my video I had to be a lot further back (to get the whole sparkler in the shot!), it looks a little weak. In real life I can assure you it burns well:
In total, the giant ECO sparkler lasted for around 4 minutes which is a massive duration for a sparkler!
With both sizes, a solid (but brittle) residue was left behind. In my video you can see this glowing orange from the heat. With the static tests above, this residue remained in place until either the weight of it caused it to drop, or the sparkler was tapped or twirled.
Here is a look at the residue that fell off the giant sparkler:
Whilst twirling both sizes of ECO sparkler I did note that the residue was prone to falling off while still glowing orange. To get a better understanding of this I filmed a sparkler using an infrared camera. As you can see, the very hot ashes are quite clear to see on the ground.
With that in mind, I would concur with the warning label: Don’t use these over decking or anything that can scorch. I would also go further and caution against using these while wearing flip flops, shorts or similar clothing which might be a consideration for summer use of these. Wear boots and trousers.
These wooden ECO sparklers are either better or worse than normal metal ones depending on which aspect you focus on.
From an ecological point of view, not having a scorched metal wire left at the end is a positive point, as is the card packaging. I would like to see the eco credentials expanded on however, for example, with some kind of certification that the wood used is indeed from a renewable source which can be verified. It is also possible (though stress I am not an expert and this is just an opinion) that wood, being lighter than metal, could reduce the environmental costs of transporting them too, bearing in mind these are shipped all the way from China.
From a safety point of view I would declare this a draw. Yes, there’s no metal at the end which could, while still hot, take someone by surprise and burn them. But what these give with one hand they take away with the other: the falling hot ash is a problem in itself. The danger is simply being passed from the metal to the falling embers.
From a performance point of view these clearly win over their metal counterparts. Not just because of more generous powder coating but because the wood itself also burns and adds to the light and heat.
Finally, it cannot be overstated just how important going to a fireworks party with the biggest sparkler is. Forget your 12 inch and 18 inch sparklers; if you want to make an entrance and induce serious sparkler envy, take a pack of these. Just don’t use them over your mate’s decking, as you may not be invited back 🙂