If you're like most of us, when you picture a firework, you're thinking of a mortar blast — those big, colorful sprays that cover the sky and are used in every firework show ever. These fireworks are pretty amazing, but before you go lighting one off, you need to know what to expect, so you get the biggest bang for your buck and stay safe.
Below, we go over everything you need to know about mortar blasts, including what they are, how to use them properly and what makes them so AWESOME.
What Is a Firework Mortar Blast?
In simple terms, a mortar blast tube carries its shell into the air and helps it explode into dazzling colors and designs high in the sky — we're talking hundreds of feet to more than a thousand! These are the kinds of fireworks you see in big displays and shows. That's the simple explanation, but we're pyro nerds here, and we'd be remiss if we didn't tell you about the slick engineering behind a mortar blast.
Inside the tube, you'll find a top and a bottom compartment, both filled with gunpowder. The bottom compartment is the lift charge and is the first one hit by the fuse you light. The lift charge explodes and launches the whole tube into the air. While the tube goes on a nice, long flight, a time fuse continues to burn inside it, moving up through the bottom chamber. It eventually ignites the second chamber, which creates the burst charge.
This is where the fun part happens! The burst charge explodes the shell, which contains stars. Think of stars as sparklers mushed into dime-sized balls. When they burn, they release showers of sparks. Since the burst charge sends them out in all directions, they can be “shaped” into specific patterns to create the beautiful designs we know and love.
Sometimes, it's as simple as arranging the stars in the shell in your desired pattern. There are even multibreak shells, which use different kinds of materials and assemblies to create various colors, effects and sounds.
What's So Cool About a Mortar Blast?
There's a reason mortar blasts are a fan favorite, including:
- They're BIG: Mortar blasts are an excellent way to cover a large area. If you're putting on a big show, mortar blasts are usually your best bet.
- They're LOUD: What would a fireworks show be without the sounds? Mortar blasts are usually pretty loud, and they can feature additional sounds like whistles and crackles to add some variety to a show.
- They're COLORFUL: Fireworks designs can get complicated — in a good way. They can be multi-colored, riddled with effects and totally diverse. They're great for creating versatile shows and building themed displays. Say you're hosting a big homecoming bash for the local high school. You can toss in some school colors and get the crowd super hyped.
Are Mortar Blasts Safe?
OK, so we know mortar blasts are awesome. But that's only if you treat them carefully. Mortar blasts are usually left to professionals, but consumers who know the ins and outs of firework safety can use them, too. You just might need to head out to the country to set them off — they're a bit riskier than run-of-the-mill ground-level fireworks, so most jurisdictions have laws against them.
No, your city officials aren't trying to ruin your fun — they're trying to keep people safe. If your mortar blast has a problem, it could explode on the ground or halfway through the launch, or it could fall to the ground without igniting the burst charge, leaving an explosive somewhere in your community.
With that said, you don't need to be scared of mortar blasts, but you do need a healthy dose of awareness. If you buy from reputable manufacturers and light your fireworks properly, you can expect a smooth experience. However, the unexpected can happen to anyone. That's why professionals spend a lot of time learning how to light them safely and respond if problems appear.
How to Light a Mortar Blast Safely
The safety rules for lighting a mortar blast are pretty similar to the rules for any other firework. They include:
- Reading the instructions: This should be self-explanatory. Even if you think it's as simple as lighting a fuse and running away, READ THE INSTRUCTIONS. Some might have specific requirements for the launch surface or provide information on what to expect, such as a delay between the fuse reaching the firework and the launch.
- Keeping them away from flammable materials: Set your fireworks off on a non-flammable surface, such as pavement, and away from anything that could catch fire, like dry grass or packaging.
- Keeping them away from crowds: Mortar blasts go so high up that there's absolutely no need to be near a crowd. Always point them upward and away from people and keep them far from kids.
- Keeping a hose nearby: If a mortar blast doesn't go off as intended, you'll need to douse it quickly in water. This prevents it from igniting at ground level. Keep a hose or a BIG bucket of water ready to go.
- Staying alert: We know it's hard to resist those drinks at a cookout, but you can't be inebriated while lighting fireworks. This rule applies to other substances, too. Stay sober and alert at all times to ensure the fireworks go off properly and no one wanders too close.
How to Store Mortar Blasts for the Best Booms
If you won't use your mortar blast fireworks for some time, you'll need to store them the right way. Like other fireworks, be sure to:
- Keep them in a cool, dry space: Fireworks don't play nicely with heat and moisture, so make sure you protect them from the elements. A good way to keep them cool and dry is to put them in an airtight plastic tub and store them in a properly ventilated room that won't get too hot.
- Store them away from flammable or explosive materials: Again, don't store your fireworks near anything that could go “boom.” Paper materials, propane tanks and other flammable materials must be far away from your fireworks.
- Make sure children can't access them: All that bright, colorful packaging can be mighty tempting to kids. Keep your fireworks where they can't get to them. Placing a lock on the storage container is a smart option if you have children.
- Buy reputable products: You can cut corners with some purchases, but not when safety is concerned. Always buy your mortar blasts from trustworthy manufacturers who use quality materials and design practices for their products.
Blow Them Away With Red Apple® Mortar-Style Fireworks
Ready to add mortar blasts to your arsenal? Red Apple Fireworks offers a wide range of aerial fireworks and mortar blasts to fit just about any show. We're obsessed with fireworks, so we always source the best materials and manufacturers to help us build fireworks that truly WOW crowds. You can rest easy knowing your fireworks are backed by high-quality materials and craftsmanship.
We've also simplified the process of buying fireworks online. Start by exploring our aerial fireworks, and reach out to our pyro pros if you have any questions on selecting the best mortar blast fireworks for your display!