The Fascinating Science of Colorful Fireworks

views

The very first fireworks — which, according to legend, were created by accident by a Chinese chemist trying to dispose of some minerals in his fire — and all fireworks for centuries afterwards were one identical color: yellowish orange. It might be difficult to imagine a monochrome fireworks display, as these days we are so accustomed to a dazzling rainbow of exploding lights, booming and brightening the night sky on most major holidays. Yet, colorful fireworks are a remarkably modern invention, invented and first available only in the 1830s thanks to Italian firework manufacturers.

Creating a colorful firework isn’t as easy as filling the tube with colored pigments or adding dyes to the gunpowder. Rather, fireworks gain their hue through specific chemical reactions, which occur when the firework explodes. There are many different elements used to make different colors, and you might be interested to learn more about how the colors in your mortar fireworks are made.

Whites

White might seem like the default color for fireworks, but as explained above, fireworks were originally orange, which means manufacturers do need to add special minerals to create electric white and light gray fireworks. The most common additive for white fireworks is magnesium, which is super-heated to produce a white explosion, but manufacturers can also use titanium and zirconium as well as barium oxide.

Reds

The reds in fireworks are produced almost entirely by the element strontium, which has other applications within oil and gas production as well as in the creation of ceramic magnets. The brightest reds rely on strontium carbonate, but strontium salts are effective as well. Because strontium can have some negative health impacts, some eco-friendly fireworks are moving toward using lithium as a replacement for strontium, but the effect is less vibrant.

Greens

Fireworks turn green due to the introduction of barium, which otherwise is not a particularly useful element as it is used somewhat in oil and gas drilling and otherwise as a pigment in paints and glassmaking. Like strontium, barium is toxic in large quantities, but the fireworks industry has yet to find a suitable replacement for producing green sparks.

Oranges

To make orange fireworks that are clearly orange, not a dark yellow, fireworks manufacturers of today tend to add calcium into their chemical mix. Calcium salts, calcium chloride and calcium sulfate are all useful compounds for increasing vibrancy of the orange hue.

Blues

Blue is widely regarded amongst pyrotechnic engineers as the most difficult color to produce in fireworks. Though various copper compounds can create explosions in a range of blue shades, the problem is that many blue tones do not contrast well with the dark blue of the night sky. Thus, most blue fireworks are also very slightly green. One of the more interesting copper compounds used in fireworks is copper acetoarsenite, which produces the well-known hue of Paris Green.

Yellows

In contrast to blue, yellow is perhaps the easiest firework color to create. Without careful mixing of compounds, all fireworks tend toward yellow because even trace amounts of sodium compounds can overwhelm other colors to produce a yellow explosion.

Purples

While most firework colors require specific elements or compounds to produce, purple is merely a blend of the elements used to create blue and red: copper and strontium. Of course, the combination of these compounds must be carefully measured, or else manufacturers will end up with a purplish red or a purplish blue rather than a true purple.

Silvers

Some fireworks appear as a sparkling silver color, but in truth, they tend to be white fireworks with special glittery effects. Including powder or larger flakes of aluminum, titanium or magnesium will cause them to ignite during the explosion, and as they burn they tend to fizz and flash, producing a silver-like shine.

Golds

As with silver, gold fireworks tend to appear gold only because they are twinkling in a particular way. Interestingly, gold fireworks tend to use materials that have long been used in burning things, like carbon, charcoal and lampblack. During the explosion, these compounds catch fire and flicker with a golden hue.

Firework technology continues to advance, giving us access to even more spectacular light shows against the night sky. With more experimentation, we may find more ways to produce a wider range of firework hues, ensuring each fireworks display is exciting and new.

Share this
Tags

Must Read

Who Are The Top Manufacturers For Animal Health Pharmaceuticals?

The animal health pharmaceutical industry is a vital component of global healthcare, responsible for producing medications, vaccines, and other products that ensure the health...

Decoding Slot Symbols: Understanding Wilds, Scatters, and Multipliers

Slot machines are not only about spinning reels and matching symbols; they also feature special symbols that can significantly impact gameplay and increase your...

The Mystery of Scatter Symbols: Your Gateway to Free Spins

In the world of online slots, symbols play a pivotal role in determining the outcome of the game. Among these symbols, the scatter symbol...

Must-read

How Was Beer Made in the 18TH Century?

Imagine you're a brewer in the 18th century, tasked with turning simple ingredients into a satisfying pint. You'd start with barley, soaking and germinating it before drying it in a kiln to preserve essential enzymes. Next, you'd mash the malted barley in hot water to extract the sugars, setting the stage for fermentation. Boiling the wort with hops would add...

Adolphus Busch: The Visionary Behind Beer Powerhouse Anheuser-Busch

Adolphus Busch was born on July 10, 1839, in Kastel, Germany, and later immigrated to the United States in 1857. His journey to becoming a brewing magnate began when he joined the E. Anheuser & Co. brewery in St. Louis, Missouri, which was owned by his father-in-law, Eberhard Anheuser. With a keen business acumen and innovative spirit, Busch quickly...

The Story Behind the Famous “King of Beers” Slogan for Budweiser

Budweiser is a prominent name in the beer industry, known for its iconic slogan "King of Beers." This slogan has an interesting history that reflects the brand's journey in the United States. German immigrant Adolphus Busch arrived in the country in 1857 and later married Lilly Anheuser. He began working at his father-in-law's brewery, which would eventually become Anheuser-Busch. By...

Recent articles

More like this