The Science Behind: Fireworks

Updated: Dec 11, 2020

All over the globe, fireworks are lit to celebrate different occasions. New Year's Eve, Independence Days, Christmas, weddings, and sometimes even parties.


Fireworks are mesmerizing. They are like eruptions of happiness. However, I've always wondered how they were made. Humans managed to pack explosions of color into teeny-tiny packages?



Fireworks have developed in the last few decades. They began with hand-lit fireworks that erupted at ground-level to being able to be coordinated with computers. In some places in the world, firework shows are run by computers!



However, this wouldn't have been possible without advancement in many fields of science. Better materials for mortars have made shows safer. Research on salts has made fireworks more colorful. Technological advancements have allowed operators to watch from a safe distance. Microchips now allow the launch and the explosion to be controlled.


How do fireworks produce different colors?

Fireworks colors are created using metal salts. Now I'm not talking about the kind of salt we put in our food, because that would be crazy! In chemistry, 'salt' refers to any compound that contains metal and non-metal atoms. These specific compounds produce vivid colors when they are burned.


Other chemicals like potassium nitrate, sulfur, and charcoal help the fireworks burn.

Nitrates, chlorates, and perchlorates provide oxygen for the kindling of the fuel.


In simpler words, salt+ chemicals(specific ones, of course) =





How do fireworks shoot upwards?

Can you imagine how dangerous fireworks would be if they just exploded on the ground?

However, thanks to modern science fireworks are made in a way similar to rockets, only they EXPLODE. Their direction is carefully curated, to ensure the safety of the audience.



So now you know how fireworks are made and operated, however, DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME. These chemicals can be incredibly deadly if mixed with the wrong substances.

Let the professionals handle it, and you just sit back and watch.



Until next time...


Stay Curious ;)


Love,

Sarah


Sources:

https://www.nature.com/scitable/blog/scibytes/the_science_behind_fireworks


https://phys.org/news/2017-07-chemist-science-fireworks.html


https://earthsky.org/human-world/how-do-fireworks-get-their-vibrant-colors#:~:text=They're%20created%20by%20the%20use%20of%20metal%20salts.&text=Metal%20salts%20commonly%20used%20in,copper%20chloride%20(blue%20fireworks).



Cover page:

https://www.journalreview.com/uploads/original/20200702-164537-new_firework.tif.jpg



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