How to Dispose of Unexploded Fireworks

Fireworks are weak explosive pyrotechnics that are used to celebrate special days all over the world. Fireworks are set off by municipalities or private companies on a large scale during national holidays, or sports events. Fireworks can also be used by the common folk to use in their backyards or lawns. 

Fireworks contain weak explosives and metals which can be a health hazard. More importantly, improperly handling fireworks can lead to severe injuries or property damage. If you find yourself with an abundance of fireworks you are not going to need, you cannot just throw them into the garbage as is. You need to make sure it won’t set off before you throw it out. This article will explain how to properly dispose of fireworks and what the dangers are of not following proper protocol. 

How to dispose of unexploded fireworks: 

The safest way to dispose of fireworks is to first soak them in water. Follow the step-by-step guide below:

  • Take a bucket of water. Make sure there is enough water in the bucket and the bucket is big enough to submerge all the fireworks.
  • Submerge the fireworks in the water for around 15 minutes if the fireworks are small.
  • If the fireworks are big, then keep them submerged for at least 12 hours to overnight (around 16 hours).
  • Make sure the fireworks are completely soaked before you move on to the next step.
  • Once the fireworks are completely soaked, put them in a plastic bag and seal them tightly. Then put the bag into another bag and seal tightly. You can use a ziplock bag instead. The idea is that the fireworks stay wet inside the bag.

Check your local government’s regulations of what they expect you to do with unused or dud fireworks. Some counties and municipalities have special instructions for disposing of fireworks. In some places in the United States, the fire service comes and picks up these wastes from you. In some places, you may be required to make a dropoff for these wastes at the local solid waste collection facility. 

If there are no special instructions for your area, you can simply throw out the plastic bag with the wet fireworks into the trash. 

What you should never do with fireworks: 

Fireworks are a fire hazard and unused fireworks and duds, in particular, have a high probability of going off inside the garbage bin. This can cause bodily harm to you, members of your household, or anyone working to collect waste or in the waste collection facility. 

Remember, fireworks are not recyclable. You should not throw them into the recycling bin. This can cause a fire and damage property and injure workers. 

The firework packaging nor the content inside is biodegradable or compostable. Do not try to compost these materials. Fireworks contain metals that are harmful to the environment. 

How to use fireworks safely: 

Fireworks can be a great way to celebrate a special day, but if mishandled they can be a cause of great harm. In 2020, 15,600 people were hospitalized due to firework-related injuries during the 4th of July celebrations. Out of these casualties, 18 people died, 15 of whom died due to mishandling fireworks. 

There are several safety measures you need to take before setting off fireworks. You must never set it off indoors, make sure you’re in an outdoor space with ample open area around you.

You should not be too close to any water source. These fireworks have many heavy metals which are harmful to aquatic life and the nearby ecosystem. These can bioaccumulate and move up the food chain and affect our health as well. 

Always keep in mind your surroundings when setting off fireworks, and make sure no child is around big fireworks. Children should not play with fireworks. 

Fireworks are fun, but if not handled properly, they can be very dangerous. So always make sure they are handled properly, and dispose of them properly. 

The best way to get rid of unused fireworks is to set them off first since they have the least risk of igniting if they are already used. If that is not an option try to donate to anyone nearby or you may even be able to sell them online. 

If you absolutely cannot get rid of them by any other means, then follow the proper protocol in this article before discarding them. 

Conclusion: 

Fireworks contain weak explosives and metals which can be a health hazard. More importantly, improperly handling fireworks can lead to severe injuries or property damage. If you find yourself with an abundance of fireworks you are not going to need, you cannot just throw them into the garbage as is. You need to make sure it won’t set off before you throw it out. This article explains how to properly dispose of fireworks and what the dangers are of not following proper protocol. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): How to Dispose of Unexploded Fireworks

Are fireworks hazardous? 

Yes, these are fire hazards. However, most places will not accept it as a hazardous chemical. So you need to check what your local government says about their disposal. 

Are fireworks recyclable? 

No, they are not recyclable. You should not throw them into the recycling bin, this may result in a fire, or in the best-case scenario, the whole batch of recyclables will be thrown out due to contamination. 

Can fireworks be composted? 

No, fireworks cannot be composted. And they should not be composted. They contain harmful chemicals and toxic metals that will harm the soil quality. 

Are fireworks biodegradable? 

No, they are not. 

Are there collection centers for fireworks where I can drop them off? 

In some counties and municipalities, the fire service accepts unused fireworks. However, this is rare. You should look online to see if such a service is available in your area. 

Can old fireworks explode? 

Yes, it is very likely they may explode even if they are old. 

Can I put old fireworks in the bin? 

Yes, but not while it’s dry. You have to thoroughly soak it in water first. 

What do I do with old fireworks? 

You can throw them out with the trash, but make sure you soak them in water before you throw them out. 

References: 

  1. How Do I …, Maine Department of Environmental Protection. (2022). Retrieved 7 February 2022, from https://www.maine.gov/dep/how-do-i/how-do-i.html?id=440736
  2. Safe disposal of fireworks | Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service. (2022). Retrieved 7 February 2022, from https://www.hwfire.org.uk/safety-and-advice/safe-disposal-of-fireworks/
  3. How to safely dispose of fireworks | Recycle Coach. (2022). Retrieved 7 February 2022, from https://recyclecoach.com/blog/how-to-safely-dispose-of-fireworks/
  4. (2022). Retrieved 7 February 2022, from https://www.iowadnr.gov/Portals/idnr/uploads/waste/fireworksdisposal.pdf
  5. Can I Put Fireworks in the Garbage?. (2022). Retrieved 7 February 2022, from https://mydisposal.com/can-i-put-fireworks-in-the-garbage
  6. How to Dispose of Fireworks: 6 Steps (with Pictures) – wikiHow. (2022). Retrieved 8 February 2022, from https://www.wikihow.com/Dispose-of-Fireworks
  7. How to safely dispose of fireworks waste. (2022). Retrieved 8 February 2022, from https://oaklandside.org/2020/07/07/how-to-safely-dispose-of-fireworks-waste/
  8. MI Environment – Enjoy fireworks safely and dispose of them properly. (2022). Retrieved 8 February 2022, from https://www.michigan.gov/mienvironment/0,9349,7-385-90161-562917–,00.html
  9. City Urges Proper Disposal of Fireworks Debris. (2022). Retrieved 8 February 2022, from https://www.lincoln.ne.gov/News/2021/7/2c
  10. Vijayakumar, A., Veerasimman, A., Ramar, R., Shanmugavel, R., & Nallathambi, I. (2021). Fireworks hazards and its consequences – A brief analysis. Materials Today: Proceedings. DOI: 10.1016/j.matpr.2020.12.1209


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