A Used Marine Flare

A used/burned marine flare
I’ve had these flares for about 7 years. They expired quite a while back, but I haven’t disposed of them. This year, the State of Georgia relaxed the laws on fireworks, so I decided I was probably legal to light them up. This would not only render them safe for disposal, but would also be fun to do.

I’ve often worried about whether or not one of the flares could accidentally ignite, as well as whether or not it would light easily if it needed to be used in an emergency. I’m pleased to report that they are very well designed on both counts. The ignition appears to be a mixture of chemicals in the igniter tip and the striker. It would not light when striking it like a match on the asphalt, but easily lit when using the accompanying striker. A test flare did light when wet, probably because it was based on the chemical reaction. The striker and igniter are both in (mostly) water-proof caps and you have to remove and invert the striker to get it to work. No amount of force would cause it to accidentally ignite.

Even though the flares were expired, they burned for 2 minutes 10 seconds each – just a little more than expected. The flares are bright enough to be uncomfortably bright, but not painful. The flame color was red-orange as opposed to the cherry red I expected. It is certainly brighter that streetlights and car lights, but not mind-blowingly bright. I think the indicated visibility of 5 miles is about right. It didn’t spark much at all, although it did ooze a very hot white goo that remained hot even after dousing with water. It turned very hard, but looked like dried toothpaste. I think it was still reacting for over an hour. The handle remained cool the entire time and the flare burned all the way down to the line where it says “hold below this line.”

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