Bang Snaps

bang snaps

Bang snaps are a type of small novelty firework sold as a trick noisemaker. They consist of a small amount of gravel or coarse sand impregnated with a minute quantity (~.08 milligrams) of silver fulminate high explosive and twisted in a cigarette paper to produce a shape resembling a teardrop with a tail. When stepped on, ignited, or thrown on a hard surface, the friction-sensitive silver fulminate detonates, producing a sharp salute similar to that of a cap gun. Despite producing a legitimate (albeit tiny) high-explosive detonation, the extremely high mass ratio of gravel to explosive acts as a buffer to ensure that the devices produce only the audible ‘crack’ of the supersonic shock wave.

They are incapable of producing physical damage, even if discharged directly against skin, and the detonation frequently fails to even break the thin paper holding the ingredients. The explosion is also too weak to propel the gravel any distance, which usually falls to the ground. This makes them safe for use as a children’s toy, for which purpose they have been widely sold across the world since the 1950s. Currently the only US jurisdiction which restricts the use and sale of bang snaps is the state of New Jersey, which bans all forms of consumer pyrotechnics including sparklers. Other states impose the same age restrictions on purchasing bang snaps as that of permitted fireworks, usually 17 or 18.

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