If you’ve ever been to a display, you’ll know that fireworks are truly magical. We’ll all have memories from childhood of watching fireworks with our families in the garden on a cold November evening or going to our first local display. Fireworks can ignite a strong nostalgia in all of us and create excitement whatever your age. They can add an element of anticipation to a range of events such as weddings and birthdays and there is always a grand selection of fireworks for sale. Whilst we all enjoy the dazzling color and neon sparkles, have you ever stopped to wonder how fireworks give us such an amazing display? We’re going to explain some of the science behind these stunning explosions below.
What do fireworks consist of?
Fireworks are made up of chemicals that react when they are ignited. The chemical reaction then propels the firework into the sky, where it explodes into colour. Often, different metal compounds are used to create the plethora of different colours and sparkles that we see dazzling into the night sky. We’ll have a closer look at these chemicals below.
Components in fireworks
Fireworks are made up of many components and chemicals that produce the explosions we are so familiar with. Chemicals such as:
- Aluminium – which is used to produce silver and white flames, sparks, and flashes. It is commonly found in sparklers.
- Carbon – this is one of the most important elements in fireworks and is one of the main components of black powder which is used as a fuel to propel the fireworks.
- Oxygen – fireworks contain oxidisers which are substances that produce oxygen so that the firework can burn.
The chemicals listed above allow the fireworks to explode and create a flash. But what makes the colour in a firework? There is a range of different metals combined with these chemicals to create those dazzling and vibrant flashes in the sky, and they all help to produce a different colour.
- Barium – is used to make a firework glow green
- Copper – produces the colour blue
- Titanium – is used to create silver sparks
- Lithium – creates the red colour in a firework
History of fireworks
Fireworks have been around for centuries. Historians believe that they were developed in China, where firecrackers were derived from bamboo stalks that would explode and help to ward off evil spirits. It is also said that the first scientist to develop gunpowder was from China and was used first in bamboo and then in stiff paper tubes.
After that, they found their way to Europe, where they were widely used for religious festivals and to enchant subjects and illuminate castles across the continent. From the 13th to – 15th century, fireworks became more popular and frequently used around Europe, and when settlers reached America, they took their fireworks with them. Fireworks have been used to impress and dazzle audiences and crowds across the globe for centuries, all starting from a single bamboo stick. We still use fireworks to celebrate special occasions, and now when you watch the light and colors dance across the sky, you’ll know which chemicals are making such a stunning show.