How to Make Firework Wicks

Written by john albers
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How to Make Firework Wicks
Several feet of coiled commercially made fuse. (

Anybody who has used fireworks knows you don't stand around once the wick or fuse has been lit. Commercially sold fireworks can be tricky that way. Sometimes the wicks are too short to light safely. Other times, they can be too old and only spark fitfully rather than burn. Professional pyrotechnicians, people who make fireworks for light shows at concerts or amusement parks, prefer to use their own fuse they make themselves. In this way, they can depend upon their fuses to light successfully every time. Keep in mind that even professionals can end up getting hurt when working with explosives, so children or the accident prone should never even consider attempting to make their own fuse.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Paraffin wax or unscented candle
  • Several large disposable bowls
  • Several feet of cotton string
  • Gunpowder
  • Water
  • Table salt
  • Borax powder
  • Lighter
  • Latex gloves

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  1. 1

    Take 3 cups of warm water and dissolve in 4 tbsp of table salt and 8 tbsp of borax powder. Borax powder is toxic, so make sure that you are wearing latex gloves when handling it, the bowl of water containing it, or the fuse while it is still wet.

  2. 2

    Soak several feet of cotton string in the bowl for over 15 minutes. Remove the string and hang it up to dry. It's best to hang it outdoors so the water dripping off of it, containing borax, does not contaminate your home.

  3. 3

    Melt several candles worth of wax into another bowl. You might simply light a few unscented candles or throw a disposable microwave safe bowl containing some paraffin into the microwave for a few minutes. Either way, the wax must be completely liquid hot.

  4. 4

    Mix one quarter of a cup of gunpowder into the wax and stir it up. The gunpowder must be the finest ground kind available on the market if the fuse is to burn steadily.

  5. 5

    Dredge the string through the wax four or five times. Make sure to wring out the excess wax and let the string dry between each dredging. Once the string is dry it will work as a fuse for fireworks perfectly. You might want to light a few inches as a test and time how quickly it burns. The burn time is dependent on how much powder is used. If the fuse burns too quickly, then it means you added too much powder and should use less next time.

Tips and warnings

  • Anytime you are working with hazardous chemicals, such as borax or flammable materials like gunpowder, you should use the utmost of caution. Make sure to wear disposable gloves to prevent the borax from soaking into your skin and never let any source of heat, sparks or flame near the gunpowder.

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