As Defined by Regulation, What Is Fireworks Flash Powder?

K. L. Kosanke and L. Weinman

Although widely used, the term “flash powder” is poorly defined; there is nothing even approaching universal agreement about exactly which pyrotechnic formulations are and are not fireworks flash powders. This would be of some concern under any circumstance; however, it is the use of the term—flash powder—in regulations that greatly magnifies the problem. One might expect that an agency choosing to use the term “flash powder” in their regulations would have a responsibility to provide a reasonably precise definition for it; if not providing a generally applicable definition, then at least a definition for use within the context of the regulations. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Consider the definition published by of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF or BATFE), the primary regulating authority for the manufacture, storage and use of explosives in the US:

55.11 Meaning of terms. Flash Powder. An explosive material intended to produce an audible report and a flash of light when ignited, which includes but is not limited to oxidizers such as potassium chlorate or potassium perchlorate, and fuels such as sulfur and aluminum.[1]

Ref: Selected Pyrotechnic Publication of K.L. and B.J Kosanke, Part 7, (2003-2004), pp 113-115

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