Do Fireworks Come with an Expiry Date?

The world is full of expiry dates – it seems even your phone won’t last after a certain amount of use anymore. But what about fireworks? If you stumbled upon an old box of fireworks, could you still use them safely?


Credit: Stephen Little via Flickr, under CC by SA 2.0

The Simple Answer

If you want it short and sweet, then the answer to ‘Do fireworks come with an expiry date?’ is a simple ‘no’.

If you go and buy some fireworks for your birthday party or your wedding reception, you don’t need to despair if you don’t remember to use all of them. You might well be able to store these fireworks and opt to use them on another occasion years later.

But like with anything in life, it unfortunately isn’t as simple as that. You might stumble on an old firework, try to set it off only to find it just makes a whizzing sound and that’s it. Not to mention the fact that you might have been in breach of the law if you kept them stored for too long!

The Longer Answer

While there is no actual physical expiry date stamped on the fireworks, there are occasions when the firework simply won’t go off anymore. In most instances, this is down to the way to firework was stored and the damage the environment might have done to its structure.

As you might know, fireworks have gunpowder inside the cartridge. If this powder is in contact with water, even if it’s just moisture, the powder becomes unstable – resulting in a firework that won’t set off.

In most instances, old fireworks have been left at the back of a garden shed or the garage. Being in a box in the shed might not have resulted in direct contact with water, but the shed might still have been subject to big changes in temperature, which alone can result in moisture building up.

Staying Safe

If you can’t see any obvious moisture patches in your old fireworks, you might be tempted to use them – after all, there is no expiry date, right?

Well, you don’t always see in the inside of the cartridge and analysing whether the firework has suffered from moisture can be tough. You need to carefully think what sorts of conditions have been present to be certain the firework is safe to use.

In fact, while you are technically able to use fireworks, you should consider your safety first. Older fireworks might not set off properly – they could explode later than intended or fly in an unusual manner. Even if the firework looks OK to use, take extra precautions when you use it, especially if you don’t know how long it has been stored!

Finally, before you start storing your leftover fireworks for a long time, be sure to check the legal restrictions on private storage of fireworks. Most countries have regulations regarding the type of fireworks a private individual can store without a proper licence and for how long.

While you could technically leave your leftover fireworks to your next party, you might be better off taking the time to shoot them as soon as possible!