Most consumer fireworks are illegal on a state level in Illinois, but these ‘novelty effects' aren't

Illinois is one of three states that ban some or all consumer fireworks, though they can be purchased in bordering states like Indiana and Iowa.

The Fourth of July is synonymous with large gatherings of family and friends, barbecue and, of course, dazzling fireworks.

Streaks of color will light up the night sky as the United States celebrates its independence on July 4. While fireworks displays are planned across the Chicago area, some people choose to set off fireworks themselves.

For Illinois residents thinking about doing so, take note.

Illinois is one of three states that ban some or all consumer fireworks, though they can be purchased in bordering states like Indiana and Iowa. Under the Pyrotechnic Use Act, which was signed in 1942, the purchase, sale and possession of "consumer fireworks" are prohibited statewide.

Novelty effects

However, Illinois residents can legally possess the following items under state law, which are considered "novelty effects" and not "consumer fireworks."

  • Smoke devices
  • Snake or glow worm pellets
  • trick noisemakers known as "party poppers," booby traps," "snappers," "trick matches," "cigarette loads" and
    "auto burglar alarms"
  • Sparklers
  • Toy pistols, toy canes, toy guns, or other devices in which paper or plastic caps containing twenty-five hundredths grains (16 mg) or less of explosive compound are used, provided they are so constructed that the hand cannot come in contact with the cap when in place for the explosion
  • Toy pistol paper or plastic caps that contain less than twenty hundredths grains (13 mg) of explosive mixture

It's important to check your local laws regarding novelty effects. Each municipality can implement an ordinance banning such items, so you'll want to see what the situation is in your community before purchasing. For example, in the city of Chicago, all fireworks, including sparklers, are illegal.

Permitted consumer fireworks

Certain consumer fireworks are permitted under strict conditions, including "fountains," "shells" and "parachutes." Here's the detailed list:

Cones including Showers of Sparks, Fountains, and Repeaters

  • Single tube fountains must not contain more than 75 grams total of pyrotechnic composition, while cone fountains
  • must not contain more than 50 grams total of pyrotechnic composition, according to the Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal. Multiple-tube fountains must not contain more than 500 grams total of pyrotechnic composition.

Mines, Comets, Tubes, Shells, Fancy Florals, and Parachutes

  • These items are firework devices designed to produce low-level aerial effects, which are propelled into the
  • air by a lift charge, according to the Illinois State Fire Marshal. Shells will burst at the peak of flight to create a display of stars, reports or other effects or leave a trail of sparks until exhausted. These items contain a maximum of 40 grams of chemical composition and no more than 20 grams of lift charge.

Illegal in Illinois

The following fireworks are prohibited in Illinois on a state level:

  • Handheld fireworks
  • Bottle rockets
  • Skyrockets
  • Roman candles
  • Chasers
  • Buzz bombs
  • Ground items other than those identified as "approved consumer fireworks"
  • Helicopters
  • Missiles
  • Pin wheels or any other twirling device whether on the ground or mounted above the ground
  • Planes
  • Sky lanterns, the type of balloon which requires fire underneath to propel
  • Firecrackers (all types)

According to the state fire marshal, consumer fireworks displays are permitted only in places that have passed measures allowing them. In order to have a consumer display using approved fireworks, a resident must receive training at the local fire department, undergo a site inspection and apply for a permit through a local government agency.

Despite consumer fireworks being available to those who complete the process, the State Fire Marshal strongly recommends residents experience displays put on by professionals instead.

"Fireworks are never safe, and the only thing we can do is mitigate the potential danger," the agency stated.

Illinois' complete list of Approved and Prohibited Consumer Fireworks and Unregulated Novelties can be found here.


For those who reside in Indiana, the laws differ greatly from Illinois.

Consumer-grade fireworks, also known as 1.4g fireworks, can be used legally under state law, though they may be banned under local ordinance. Display fireworks, meanwhile, are not legal without state and federal permits, according to the Indiana Department of Homeland Security.

Here's additional information about the use of fireworks in Indiana, including the legal purchase age, hours and more:

  • Fireworks can only be purchased by persons 18 years of age or older.
  • Use is limited to personal property, the property of someone who has approved the use of fireworks or a location designated specifically for the use of consumer fireworks.
  • It is legal to set off fireworks from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. throughout the year, although hours might be limited by local ordinance.
  • The times on the following dates are protected in Indiana for consumer use of fireworks and may not be prohibited by local ordinance, according to IDHS.
    • June 29 to July 3: from 5 p.m. until two hours after sunset
    • July 4: from 10 a.m. to midnight
    • July 5 to July 9: from 5 p.m. until two hours after sunset
    • December 31: from 10 a.m. to 1 a.m.

Indiana officials urge residents to keep the following tips in mind when handling fireworks:

  • Only light one firework at a time and never attempt to re-light or fix a "dud" firework.
  • Always have a fire extinguisher or water supply, such as a hose or bucket of water, nearby.
  • Do not allow young children to use fireworks, and only let older children handle them under close adult supervision.
  • Store fireworks in a cool, dry place away from the reach of children.
  • Never smoke or consume alcohol when lighting fireworks.
  • Do not hold lit fireworks in your hands, and do not point or throw fireworks at others.
  • Use extreme caution when lighting fireworks in the wind. Keep spectators where the wind is blowing smoke and debris away from them.
  • Steer clear of others setting off fireworks.
  • After a firework has finished burning, douse it with plenty of water before throwing it away to prevent starting a trash fire.
  • Do not attempt to make or alter any fireworks or firework devices.
  • Keep pets indoors, away from fireworks. Set up an area away from windows where they cannot see or hear fireworks, as many pets are terrified of them. Consider buying medication from a veterinarian ahead of time to calm pets.


In Wisconsin, a permit is required for any fireworks device that explodes or leaves the ground, according to state officials. Firecrackers, roman candles, bottle rockets and mortars are included.

Like in Illinois, "novelty devices" can be legally purchased under state law. The following are permitted:

  • Sparklers not exceeding 36 inches in length
  • Stationery cones and fountains
  • Toy snakes
  • Smoke bombs
  • Caps
  • Noisemakers
  • Confetti poppers with less than ¼ grain of explosive mixture
  • Novelty devices that spin or move on the ground.
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