JUL 04, 2017 7:59 AM PDT

Fireworks and How They Work


It's that time of year again. Time to sit outside at dusk and watch large rockets explode overhead, with colors and shapes whistling down from the sky. Fireworks are a staple of mid summer celebrations of Independence Day and the weekend wouldn't be complete without them. But how do they work, what gives them their distinct color and shape? It's all in the chemistry.

Two ingredients are key. Fuel and an oxidizer, so you need gunpowder, which is a combination of charcoal and potassium nitrate, and you need flames, that will provide oxygen. When heated, the potassium nitrate releases oxygen, mixing with the fuel and creating nitrogen gas, that expands and then? Kaboom! Inside an arial firework shell along with the gunpowder are what's called stars, or small clumps of metals that provide color and sparks. The placement of the stars and the different metals used give the fireworks their unique shapes and color. Placing the shells into a tube, with more gunpowder at the base and a fuse will launch them skyward where the innards eventually explode, raining colored sparks and shapes to the crowd below. That's how fireworks provide the "ooooh....ahhhhh.....wow" reactions from crowds all over the country. Remember though, these are explosives, be safe and have a happy Fourth of July!
About the Author
  • I'm a writer living in the Boston area. My interests include cancer research, cardiology and neuroscience. I want to be part of using the Internet and social media to educate professionals and patients in a collaborative environment.
You May Also Like
OCT 22, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
NASA Looks to Nuclear Fusion for Powering Deep Space Missions
OCT 22, 2020
NASA Looks to Nuclear Fusion for Powering Deep Space Missions
Nuclear fusion is the frontier of energy research, and NASA has a plan to bring this state-of-the-art power source to th ...
DEC 24, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Novel Two-phased Particles are the Ultimate Authenticity Tag
DEC 24, 2020
Novel Two-phased Particles are the Ultimate Authenticity Tag
Counterfeit goods producers are flooding the global market with low-quality, sometimes dangerous merchandise and ripping ...
JAN 19, 2021
Immunology
How Breastfeeding improves Infants Immunity?
JAN 19, 2021
How Breastfeeding improves Infants Immunity?
Breastfeeding benefits are well known for ages, and it has many positive impacts on infant's lives that continue wit ...
FEB 19, 2021
Plants & Animals
What can Lemurs Teach us About Love?
FEB 19, 2021
What can Lemurs Teach us About Love?
Although not entirely accurate, romantic sentiments such as "you're my lobster" or "you're my pen ...
MAR 26, 2021
Plants & Animals
A Massive 17-Year Cicada Swarm will Emerge Soon
MAR 26, 2021
A Massive 17-Year Cicada Swarm will Emerge Soon
The east coast is preparing for one of nature’s greatest spectacles. A gigantic swarm of periodical cicadas is due ...
MAY 30, 2021
Space & Astronomy
New Discovery Casts Origin of Milky Way into Doubt
MAY 30, 2021
New Discovery Casts Origin of Milky Way into Doubt
A detailed cross-section of another galaxy, known as YGC 10738, has cast previous ideas of how the Milky Way was formed ...
Loading Comments...