Sgt’s Time Saturday: Fuses

Greetings Me Droogs N Droogettes!
So, I’ve been behind Ye Olde Power Curve on doing ‘instructionals’ as of late.  Primarily because I started to run out of stuff I can go over in my areas of expertise.  My main thing(s) are mostly weapons related.  Also I can dig a fighting position, and maneuver myself and maybe a squad worth of people and some other helpful things… Master of None, Jack of All as a modern Infantryman should be.  

Last night though I was fucking around and it hit me.  I was measuring, cutting and testing various lengths of fuse for my 37mm “flare launcher” for some aerials, when I realized that this’d be a good Sergeants Time Saturday subject.  I load my own stuff for the launcher as material to do so is faaar cheaper than over the counter pre-loads.  A 37mm bird bomb goes for about $12-15 WITHOUT the hazmat shipping fee, and they DON’T sell them one at a time… so to continue…

SAETY WARNING: FAAFO. Playing with explosives is dangerous.  Nothin’ written here is on me.
So, as I was sayin’

Visco Fuse is the most common easy-to-buy without special permits “fireworks” grade fuses.  As a kid, most of us played with “M-80s” and remember the green waterproof fuse sticking out of the thing.

THEORETICALLY they were a quarter stick of dynamite.  Outlawed in 1966, they did have one hell  of a Ka-BOOM! when we had them as a kid.  I remember DeadDad buying some, and man, those that he got blew a memorable crater in the back yard on the 4th one year.  So, enough on the firework, lets get to the initiator.

Fuse is part of the initiator, as it helps initiates the BOOM.  Other initiator include blasting caps and electric fuses, none of which I’m hitting today.  Only thing I’ll say about Blasting Caps is DON’T.

Unless you’ve been properly trained in fucking around with them, do. not. fuck. with. blasting. caps.  You’ll be less apt to lose body parts that way.  The guy who trained me had 30 years experience, and was missing his pinkie and ring finger on on hand.  That ought to tell you something… so to continue.

Most common fuse out there is called Visco.  It’s commonly green, waterproof, and is used primarily as a fuse for most common fireworks.  

It’s core is black powder, and has various burn rates depending on a couple of things.  Manufacturer Quality has a lot to do with the burn times.  US made visco tends to be a bit more ‘accurate’ than the Chinese made stuff, for the values of accuracy, but is harder to find, especially these days.  This’s why I was measuring, cutting and testing my cut sections.

ALWAYS test your fuse.  DO NOT count on it to be accurate ‘because that’s what the manufacturer said it was!’ because THAT is a sure fire way to get blow’d the fuck up.

The visco comes in various colors.
Colors usually indicate what kind of fuse it is.  The most common is green visco.  It tends to be a slow burning, waterproof fuse with an average burn rate anywhere between 22-24 seconds per foot of fuse.  This’s why you test it because in ‘real time BOOM times’ a 1 to 2 second delay OR worse, early initiation can mean death and or dismemberment.  There are three external layers to visco fuse. First, a layer of string is wound around the core, then a second, less tight, layer of string is wound in the opposite direction to prevent unraveling. The last layer is a low-nitrate nitrocellulose lacquer that keeps the fuse from falling apart. The last layer helps to make the visco fuse water resistant and to prevent moisture from degrading the black powder core.

Other ‘flavors’ of visco are as follows, with the approximate times of burn.

“Green” Visco Safety Fuse Speed: 23-24 sec/ft.

“White” Quick Fuse Speed: 0.1-0.4 sec/ft.

“Yellow” Fast Artillery Fuse Speed: 4-5 sec/ft

“Pink” Perfect, Medium Speed Fuse Speed: 9.5-10 sec/ft.

“Purple” Medium Artillery Fuse Speed: 4.5-5 sec/ft.

“Dark Green” Fat Cake Fuse Speed: 12-15 sec/ft.

“Light Green” Small Cannon Fuse (2mm) Speed: 24.5-25 sec/ft.

They usually come in rolls of twenty feet to a roll.  Industry standards are where I grabbed the list above BUT as I said, measure measure measure, cut once, test twice.  I was taught the 3-1-2 method. 
Best safety practices Aye?

As you can see, this ‘fast’ fuse is labeled 4-5 seconds per foot whereas the green is 20-24 seconds per foot. 
Serious difference there Aye? 
This’s part of why I’m writing this one up, as where in a fucked situation, you come across a box of Pyro, best you know what you’re maybe dealing with, rather than fucking around and finding out the hard way.

Now the fastest stuff is the white fuse.  a tenth-of-a-second to a half-a-second per foot.

This stuff is usually used inside a large firework to set off the secondary stuff.  Sort of like in the big aerial shots, you get  the initial Ka-Boom, followed by the pretty and Louder flares and Ka-booms…  It can also be used to assist with igniting multiple fireworks simultaneously.

Daisy Chaining as it were.  YMMV, I take no responsibility for this if you blow yourself the fuck up.

This’s for intellectual exercise only dig?So… There ya have it.  A solid rundown.  As far as finding this stuff, well, it too is currently in short supply.  Dunno why?  Makes you think that there’s a conspiracy out there to keep boom-boom out of the hands of civvies Aye?
And Happy Juneteenth y’all.

So, More Later I Remain The Intrepid Reporter
Big Country

By BigCountryExpat

Fuck you if you can't take a joke. No one gets out alive so eat me.


  1. And then there’s this: Search “electric fuse firework” on ebay or elsewhere.
    Good for wireless destruction of gator heads with cheap quad rotors.

  2. Awesome – that’s some technical shit right there! My favorite fuses are on the mortars I bought at the fireworks store on the interstate. They aren’t real fast and there’s a delay when it burns down into the tube so there’s the surprise factor when it launches.

  3. Note, it is the spark that makes the boom. Most of the safety fuse makes lots of pretty sharks.

    If the sparks reach the boom powder the boom powder will go boom. Even if the fuse hasn’t gotten there yet.

    I observed a idiot trying to dispose of boom powder. He had watched somebody else do it safely. Cut a foot or so of fuse, stick one end in the boom powder, put rocks on the fuse to hold it away from the boom powder.

    Light fuse, walk away, 20 or so seconds later big flash and a lot of smoke.

    Idiot sticks fuse into pile of boom powder like birthday candle. Idiot applies lighter to end of fuse. Idiot stands up and boom powder goes off.

    Idiot gets instant 2nd and 1st degree burns. Melts sunglasses. So sorts of nasty. Idiot spends time in burn ward.

    The fuse likes to curl back on itself. It only had to burn an inch or so before it was spitting and sparking in to the boom powder.

    Be careful

  4. This stuff is probably in short supply because it’s been previously “stocked up” by freefor.

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