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Roman candles are a type of fireworks, with long, thick paper tubes that contain layers of "stars" and lifting charges.

A roman candle is constructed by the following method:

  1. load a layer of bentonite clay into the tube to close off the end.
  2. load a layer of lifting charge.
  3. load a pyrotechnic star.
  4. cover the assembly with a dusting of black powder.
  5. load a layer of delay powder.
  6. repeat until tube is full

There are several variations on this:
  • Many Chinese roman candles use clay instead of delay powder and run a length of fuse down the inside of the candle to time the lifts.
  • Larger roman candles will usually add more lift to the highest layers and less to the lower layers in order to cause the stars to lift to the same altitude.
  • Some really large candles will load comet shells instead of stars.