Dangerous Leftovers: How To Safely Use & Dispose Of Leftover Fireworks

Jul 3, 2017 | Backyard Fun

Every summer millions of Americans celebrate the 4th of July (along with other holidays) with firecrackers, sparklers, and other pyrotechnic wonders, and it’s easy to figure out why. The sights and sounds created using these amazing contraptions are nothing short of spectacular! Nothing quite compares to that flowery explosion of sparks in the sky or the thunderous boom when the rocket bursts.

Unfortunately, the warmer months aren’t without blemish, as they tend to be marked by front page stories and TV interviews following accidents caused by pyrotechnics. Fireworks are fun to enjoy and make for beautiful viewing – but they are certainly dangerous! That’s why in toDay’s blog, we’re providing an important follow-up to the Independence Day celebrations, and reviewing how to use up and safely dispose of fireworks.

Be Smart In Advance

There a couple big things you should keep in mind when you’re preparing for a celebration that’s going to involve pyrotechnics – whether for a community event or a family celebration. First and foremost, purchasing your fireworks from reliable source is critical. For example, purchasing fireworks in person from a dealer is usually a safer bet than ordering pyrotechnics online. Beyond that, make sure that neither you nor your source attempt to modify the fireworks in any way.

Image Credit: Parade (www.parade.com)


Also, preparing to use pyrotechnics involves following many of the same guidelines you would abide by if you were building a bonfire. Always have water and fire suppression tools handy, don’t use fireworks while intoxicated, and only ignite fireworks outside. And most of all, even if they just have firecrackers or sparklers, kids should always be supervised by a responsible adult when using pyrotechnics.

Use Them Up

In many places, projectile fireworks (fireworks that fly through the air) and fireworks that explode are illegal for consumer use. If that’s the case, these types of fireworks can only be off by trained professionals during special events. But even if projectiles are permitted in your area, it’s important to know that these types of fireworks are especially dangerous and should be used with extreme caution.

That said, one of the safest ways to ensure that your fireworks can be disposed of safely is… to use them. Most pyrotechnics are designed to be single-use only, meaning that once they’re lit and deployed, they won’t reignite. When it comes to handling duds, the biggest rule of thumb is the most important – if a firework doesn’t deploy the first time you light it, don’t try again. The materials in most pyrotechnics are very volatile and can behave unpredictably in the best of circumstances. Your best bet is to just dispose of any duds and enjoy anything that’s left.

Soak Them

After all of your pyrotechnics have been used up, it’s time to dispose of them. Fill a large bucket or tub with water and completely submerge all of the shells and any other encapsulated pieces – you don’t necessarily need to soak loose paper or casings, but it certainly can’t hurt. Allow the remnants to soak overnight, so they become completely saturated with water.

Once the fireworks are properly soaked, the explosive ingredients should be rendered inert (meaning they are no longer combustible). That said, it’s still a good idea to wrap the debris in a plastic bag, to prevent it from drying out and possibly igniting.

Image Credit: BBC (www.bbc.com)


In most jurisdictions, you can simply throw this debris out with your regular trash – some areas may do a special collection after major holidays where firework usage is especially prevalent. When disposing of the water that you soaked the pyrotechnics in, pour it in the garden instead of down the drain – the water will contain nitrates and other residue that might damage your pipes, but can actually be beneficial to your plants.