Meal Coated Rice Hulls is the explosive that is used to break open aerial shells, and at the same time ignite the Stars inside… without shattering them into dust. “Meal Powder” is nothing more than very finely powdered Black Powder (Gunpowder) made from Potassium Nitrate, Sulfur, and Charcoal. Rice Hulls are simply the shells of ordinary white rice.
One of the key ingredients in a shell like that is a vigorous shell burst powder. That type of burst charge has to burn fast enough, and be powerful enough, to really “pop” the shell to produce a large, symmetrical display, without being so strong that it shatters the stars, or blows them “blind” without allowing them to stay lit.
For smaller ball shells, and for cylinder shells, it is recommended to use hot, granulated BP for the burst charge. But in shells 5-inch and larger, BP-coated rice hulls, with or without a burst enhancer, works nicely to create pleasing shell bursts. Some also use the BP-hulls as lift charges under shells.