With Bonfire Night days away scientists have tested which fireworks produce the biggest bang.

Yorkshire-based noise measurement specialists Cirrus Research decided to put some of the most popular fireworks to the test this year to find the loudest pyrotechnic for Plot Night.

With more than £100m spent on fireworks in the UK every year, the Hunmanby-based company opted to test 20 different fireworks to see what noise levels were reached, with some surprising results.

Strict legislation governs the fireworks’ fire power that manufacturers can sell to the general public, with guidelines on how far away members of the public should be to protect them from a variety of hazards, including hearing damage. Home use fireworks are supposed to have a noise limit of 120 decibels (dBs) when fired from 15 metres away. Anything above this noise limit can’t be sold to the general public.

Of the 20 fireworks tested by Cirrus Research, who using the Optimus Green Class 1 Sound Level Meter, the Viper Rocket came out top with a LAFMax* (dB) reading of 111.7 with a Peak noise at 140.4 – the equivalent of a plane taking off.

Second came the 8 Shot Barrage, a series of small rockets released in quick succession, that registered 103.8 dB, with a peak of 131.7 – equal to a pneumatic drill in use.

In third place came the Dancing Butterfly – a ground based sparkling shower effect – packing a powerful punch of 99.9 dB and a peak of 124.2. This made more noise than a chain saw or electric drill – and lasted a very respectable 20 seconds into the bargain.

Cirrus Research Marketing Manager Tom Shelton, said: “Fireworks are part and parcel of Bonfire Night so we wanted to see which ones really packed a punch noise-wise.

“Rockets obviously delivered a big bang for your buck but didn’t last that long - on average around 15-20 seconds – other fireworks from our repertoire often came in only marginally quieter but lasted twice, sometimes three times as long so, in that respect, gave you much more value for money!”


1. China is the largest manufacturer and exporter of fireworks in the world. 90% of all fireworks originate from here.

2. The first recorded fireworks in England were at the wedding of King Henry VII in 1486.

3. The largest firework rocket was 13kg and was produced and launched in Portugal in 2010.

4. A rocket can reach speeds of 150mph, however the shell can reach as high as 200 metres.

5. A sparkler burns at a temperature over 15 times the boiling point of water.

6. The record for the largest firework display consisted of 66,326 fireworks and was achieved in Portugal in 2006.

7. At first fireworks were only orange and white. In the Middle Ages new colours were achieved by adding different salts. The hardest colour to create is blue.


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