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Do Cakes Need to Dry Out?

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  • Do Cakes Need to Dry Out?

    You all that do the big shows each year, when do you un-case your cakes? I can remember when the tent I brought from in my college years, the guy who ran it was always unboxing cakes to put on the tables. I remarked one time that he was making everything look pretty. He bristled at that and said he was making sure they wouldn't be duds. Said that if there was moisture that got into the cases this would give them time to dry out before someone got it home to shoot it. Any truth to that?






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  • #2
    Cases containing cake/s do sometimes get wet during transit. Is it a normal ritual to unbox cakes to "air" them out. No it not a normal thing and under certain circumstances can be quite dangerous! Most cakes when the shipping box gets wet the moisture doesn't penetrate far enough to be an issue on the cakes. To evaluate if a cake is servicable is usually done on site during setup. If I or anyone that I shoot with/for would pick up a cake and actually feel water on the underside, it just gets set to the side and slide a SUB cake in its place. The outer cosmetic wrapper of most large cakes 500's NOAB and the like do not play into if its good.

    1. Did the water get to the fuse?
    2. Did any part of the tube get water-logged?
    3. Are the tubes secure to be shot?
    4. BIGGEST ITEM. DID THE WATER GET TO THE LIFT/SHELL?
    Be honest to yourself when looking at it. Being in the line of fire from a cake or have one CATO is a very bad night. Fuse and I experienced it up close and personal. His voice cracked when he asked if I was ok. My voice was an octave higher than normal when I said I was good.

    Wet lift or a wet shell can or will do one of many things. The problems associated with 1.4, 1.3, 1.1 shells are the same. Hang, miss, dud, flower.......
    Pyrotechnic Artists of Texas
    Texas FPO & SEO license holder
    Firewatch - The best seat in the house

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    • #3
      Thanks for the explanation and wisdom. Through the years of doing backyard 4th shows, I've only had one cake that had a severe malfunction. It was a Brothers cake in the 500gm variety. Might have been Atom Bomb. One of the outer tubes tried to blow out, but thankfully the cake stayed mainly intact and the rest of the shots made it straight up in the air. Upon inspection the next morning the cake held together due to Brothers' wiring and wood lathe slats tied around the tubes. They did their job.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Camby View Post
        You all that do the big shows each year, when do you un-case your cakes? I can remember when the tent I brought from in my college years, the guy who ran it was always unboxing cakes to put on the tables. I remarked one time that he was making everything look pretty. He bristled at that and said he was making sure they wouldn't be duds. Said that if there was moisture that got into the cases this would give them time to dry out before someone got it home to shoot it. Any truth to that?
        sometimes things from china have moisture still in them... either from the manufacturing process or from shipping. when you take the cakes out of their boxes and let them "breathe" what you're doing is allowing the moisture in the cakes to evaporate into the air as it moves around them. i unbox everything as soon as i get it home, not to take fancy pictures for my twitface-snaptagram... but to make sure whenever i grab product from the stash i know it's nice and dry and ready to shoot.

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        • themadness74
          themadness74 commented
          Editing a comment
          twitface-snaptagram.... that cracks me up every time! LOL

      • #5
        Although I'v never un boxed any of my cases when i get them, i do put them in my outside shed and let them bake up until it gets closer to the 4th when i'm ready to start putting my show together. I always say hot fireworks are happy fireworks.
        And if you happen to have any left over and you let them season till next year, from my personal experience, fireworks get better when "seasoned".

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        • #6
          Originally posted by themadness74 View Post
          Although I'v never un boxed any of my cases when i get them, i do put them in my outside shed and let them bake up until it gets closer to the 4th when i'm ready to start putting my show together. I always say hot fireworks are happy fireworks.
          And if you happen to have any left over and you let them season till next year, from my personal experience, fireworks get better when "seasoned".
          they absolutely do get better with age.

          during the manufacturing process, just about every step of the way, things need to be dried in the sun. stars get rolled and laid out on drying tray's (screens) to let the air move around them so they can give off all that driven in moisture. the tubes are rolled with wet glue, and they are placed in the sun to dry. every part of the process it's required to let things dry completely otherwise things are going to have driven in moisture. problem is if the sun don't shine, if it rains, if they don't have a chance to let it dry... and if they need to fill an order...

          stuff ships "wet"

          the thing is it's not actually "wet" to the touch... you can't see it... but it's driven in the tubes, the plugs, the BP, the stars... everything has a certain level of moisture and it's all trying to work it's way out of the product into the air around it. they pack them in cases, and pack the cases as tight as they can into shipping containers, then send it our way. during that trip, all that driven in moisture is getting into the air in the container... and the boxes they are packed in. by the time these containers get here to the states... and you crack them open... it's literally raining from the ceiling.

          thats not water it picked up from the ocean... thats moisture that was locked into the product in china finding it's way out and getting absorbed into the boxes.

          the idea is, by the time it gets here, by the time the 4th comes around, the product is all dry enough to preform as intended. if you buy stuff fresh off a container... the ideal situation is you'll put it somewhere hot, with low humidity, and with moving air, and with a way to pull the humidity out of the air. the more time you let them dry, the more that moisture will have a chance to work it's way out of the product, the better the product will preform when you light it.

          bottom line is you don't have to "dry age" your fireworks to enjoy them... but you'll probably enjoy them better if you do.

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          • #7
            I've always kept my cakes in the their original box when I store them after pick-up. Once I start planning my show and matching everything, that's when they breathe.

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