M80 fireworks are a type of big firecracker that is quite notorious in the world of pyrotechnics. Sometimes called “salutes,” these large firecrackers were originally made in the early 1900s by the US Military to simulate battlefield noises and conditions for soldiers in training. However, because of a high rate of property damage and personal injury caused by M80 fireworks, they have been outlawed for quite some time for sale and use as a consumer firework. While bans on M80 fireworks started in 1966, further federal regulations limiting the amount of pyrotechnic chemicals that could be packed into these firecrackers (and other similar items) put the final proverbial nail in the coffin for these little bad boys.
Since they are illegal, you’ve probably never had a chance to see M80 fireworks; however, they look less powerful than they really are. Traditionally, M80 fireworks were made from a red cardboard tube about 1 ½ inches tall and feature a bit of Visco fuse sticking out of the top. Basically M80 fireworks look just like your regular firecrackers of today, just a little bit bigger and with more pyrotechnic flash powder waiting inside. Today, the biggest blast you can get from a firecracker-type firework is 50 grams of flash powder.
Buyer beware, as they say; some fireworks stands might sell pyrotechnic items that lead you to believe that you are getting real M80 fireworks. However, the name may just be misleading or the tube may be made to appear like it is holding more chemical compounds that it really is. One loophole about buying and shooting off M80 fireworks is to do so on an Indian reservation. Official Native American reserviations are subject to their own government and allow the sale and use of most every type of firework. M80 fireworks can still be made legally in the US if the manufacturer holds a federal explosives license.
Historically, we can thank the Chinese monk named Li Tian for creating firecrackers, the forefather to M80 fireworks. Created in the Hunan Province over a thousand years ago, firecrackers were first used as a way to scare away evil spirits and ghosts and then were later incorporated into celebrations around the world. Fairly recently, a Chinese New Year celebration set a record when they set off a string of firecrackers that exploded non-stop for 22-hours!
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