Types of Illegal Fireworks & Bootleg Fireworks

In the united states, illegal fireworks are usually identified by the amount of gunpowder the particular firework contains. The Federal Hazardous Substances Act (FHSA) identifies various types of illegal fireworks such as “cherry bombs” or M80’s.

There are quite a few guidelines outlined by the FHSA for fireworks such as:

  • Fuses that burn for more than 3 seconds and less than 9
  • No more than 50 milligrams of gunpowder (in class c fireworks)
  • Fireworks must have safety labels with safe operating instructions

Class C fireworks are available to consumers based on local laws. Some states do not allow the sale or possession of fireworks at all.

Class B fireworks are known as “display fireworks” and you need a special license to own and launch these. They can be extremely dangerous and should be handled only by professionals.

If you’ve purchased a firework from an unlicensed seller, chances are you have an illegal firework.

Local Laws

Residents of NY, NJ, DE, or MA should not own, buy, or sell fireworks. These sates have a full ban on fireworks though there are some rumors that NY state will be changing the laws soon.


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If you’re living in a state that allows you to make your own fireworks and you have the proper licenses and clearances you can learn to safely make your own fireworks at home ! View some of our guides here.

Class M

There are rumors that some pyro’s have built class M fireworks with 200+ grams of gunpowder. These fireworks are extremely dangerous and often result in serious injury. The Federal Government can consider these explosives and we advise you to avoid making or using these sorts of devices.

When in doubt, throw it out ! Well don’t literally throw it out but if you’re not sure if you have a legal firework please properly dispose of the firework:

Safe Disposal

If you have illegal, unused, or “dud” fireworks, follow these steps to allow for a safe disposal:

  1. Completely soak the fireworks in water and until entirely saturated. We recommend you soak the fireworks overnight before moving on to the next step.
  2. Once soaked, wrap the fireworks in a plastic trash bag or some sort of wrap so that they will not dry.
  3. Now you’re able to dispose of the fireworks at a local waste facility, fire department, or local trash pickup.