How to Make Your Own Homemade Fireworks Fuse

If you're making your own fireworks, you might want to try making your own fireworks fuses, too. This is an easy beginner project. It will not result in high-quality fuses, so use a manufactured fuse or higher quality fuse for anything sensitive. These fuses will work fine for homemade firecrackers and smoke bombs.

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Gather Your Fireworks Fuse Materials

match and fuse
Cultura RM/Rob Prideaux, Getty Images

You don't need anything expensive or hard to find for this project. All you need are:

  • Toilet paper (You have this, right?)
  • Matches (Wooden or paper, makes no difference because the match head is the important part.)

While you only need the matches to make a fuse, keep the strikers that come on the matchbooks or box so that you can try the smoking fingers trick!

See, I told you this was easy. Now let's make a fuse from these unassuming starting materials.

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Prepare the Paper for the Fuse

Tear the paper into thin strips, fold the strips in half, and then twist the fuse tightly.
Tear the paper into thin strips, fold the strips in half, and then twist the fuse tightly. Anne Helmenstine

The first step of making a homemade fireworks fuse is to prepare the paper that you will use as the basis for the fuse.

  1. Tear a square of toilet paper into six strips. Thinner is better if you can manage it.
  2. Fold each strip of paper in half, lengthwise.
  3. Twist each strip to form a string.

Toilet paper, like other paper, is cellulose. This is a natural polysaccharide (sugar) that can act as fuel for combustion. Toilet paper does not burn very well on its own. It tends to smoke and flake off bits of ash and would more likely than not just go out before the flame reached your firework. This is where the matches come into play.

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Strip the Matches

Scrape the heads off of safety matches so you can apply the material to the fuse.
Anne Helmenstine

The next step is to strip the heads from the matches so that you can apply the chemicals to the paper fuse. This is not particularly difficult, but don't go medieval on the match heads or else you might accidentally light one. Also, although safety matches are safer than old-style matches, there is no hard in wearing plastic kitchen gloves, if you happen to have them. Otherwise, wash your hands when you are finished with this step.

  1. Scrape the heads from a few matches into a cup or onto a plate. I used a screwdriver for this, but you could use a knife or pliers or possibly a fingernail.
  2. Try to break up any large clumps of the match head.

Almost finished! You just need to apply the match head chemicals to the fuse you prepared earlier.

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Coat the Fuse with Flammable Chemicals

example of a finished homemade fireworks fuse.
Anne Helmenstine

The last step to making a fireworks fuse is coating the prepared fuse with flammable chemicals so it will burn at a controlled rate.

  1. Sprinkle a small amount of water onto the match head chemicals that you collected.
  2. Mix the water and match heads to try to make a thick paste. As you can see from my finished fuse, neatness is not critical. However, a more uniform slurry will burn better than a clumpy mixture.
  3. Roll your paper fuses in the mixture, one at a time, to thoroughly coat each fuse.
  4. Allow the fuses to dry completely before using them.​
  5. You can store these fuses in a paper bag. I should not have to tell you this, but: store them away from heat and flame.

Before using a fuse in a fireworks project, you should light one so you will know what to expect. Use a fuse by inserting part of the fuse into the firework, leaving the rest as a tail that you light. The point of the fuse is to give you some control over lighting your fireworks. Light the fuse, then remove yourself to a safe distance to watch the show.

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Key Points

Fuse burning on black background isolated
dzika_mrowka / Getty Images
  • A homemade firework fuse consists of a fuel and an oxidizer to control the rate at which the fuel burns.
  • The goal of a fuse is to ignite a firework. This means it must maintain sufficient heat, yet not burn so quickly that the person lighting the device can't get clear.
  • The most common fuel is paper because it can be twisted into a convenient shape to make a fuse. Cotton string is another good option.
  • Coating the fuse with the chemicals found in match heads will help keep the fuse burning, yet won't make it burn too quickly.


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