Caution: Contents may be hot. ate earlier to be so yellow, you should know now that the yellow firework that just The next time you enjoy an aerial fireworks show hopefully you can appreciate the exact science that becomes a beautiful celebration of chemistry and physics. The ignited explosive creates a high-pressure gas that blows the colorful stars outward. number of shells and fuses, and metals to create the shows that wow us. Their placement is usually pretty specific. since. bring a little chemistry knowledge to your fellow onlookers. In addition to black powder, firework stars contain different chemicals or metals to create certain colors. How they’re stacked and Where do the cool colors come from? When prompted by a computer or trained operator, the panel sends an electric jolt to the shell which ignites the lift charge to create an explosion. The main ingredient in fireworks is black powder, which explodes when ignited (lit on fire). The short answer? Each shell is placed in a mortar on top of more black powder called the lift charge. Lastly, fuses are attached to or embedded within the shell and everything is wrapped in paper. To assemble aerial fireworks, trained professionals called pyrotechnicians first make stars by mixing black powder with different chemicals or metals. What makes the big explosions? These are filled with colors that blaze brightly in the sky, but after only a certain amount of time has passed. For a complete display, fireworks often mix different metals and metal salts to give you the vibrant, multicolored effects. When the fuse gets low enough in the firework, it reacts with a bursting charge, which in turn lights the explosives that will disperse the stars. “For the most part, these metals are found Mike Nudelman/Business Insider. The other end of the wire fuse is connected to a control panel. It's a whole lot of chemical reactions happening at once. “The hotter the temperature that the firework burns at, the brighter the color. It’s the pyrotechnic chemists that get creative with different combinations of patterns, we’ve come to love. How the pellets are arranged within the shell determines the shape of the firework. The colorful and impressive fireworks displays seen during New Year’s Eve, Fourth of July, and other events pack a lot of chemistry into those “Ooooo! The whistling comes Each For instance, mixing copper into a star will produce a blue firework. A leading-edge research firm focused on digital transformation. Pyrotechnicians carefully measure black powder, chemicals, fuses and other supplies to build fireworks that work properly. This Independence Day after you’ve finished your extra helpings of hot dogs, casseroles, can create whistling effects. The materials will react with each other when enough heat is applied. We asked Ventura to start with the basics: how fireworks work and where they get their The firework launches from inside of a tube into the The heat from these explosions reacts with the chemicals mixed within each star, and we see the vivid colors and shapes of the fireworks in the nighttime sky. Traditionally, three reagents, potassium nitrate, carbon, and sulfur, make gunpowder. “[The color] all depends on the metal being burned inside the firework,” says Ventura, Answer these questions and more by checking out a range of cool chemistry experiments using some of the chemicals found in fireworks such a magnesium, potassium chloride, lithium … In their simplest form, firecrackers consist of gunpowder wrapped in paper, with a fuse. That's chemistry too! burn a little differently. Think again! The firework launches from inside of a tube into the air due to lighting a lift charge. The explosives are where the fun happens. according to the American Chemical Society, The best summer vacation spot in every state. "Everything needed to create the different lights, colors, and sounds of a firework are located inside of a shell. The fireworks we enjoy at large celebrations are called aerials. “You never really see those bright, brilliant blues because it’s hard to get the copper to hot Different metal compounds give different colors. Fireworks are explosions of numerous small pellets of black powder called stars. In addition to black powder, firework stars contain different chemicals or metals to create certain colors. Inside of the shell, along the burst charge, are little pellets called stars. louder than others? Calcium salts will … A Fourth of July celebration wouldn't be complete without big bursts of colorful explosives lighting up the summer sky at dusk. when asked about the color of fireworks. And if you burn copper, it'll give off light that's blue-green. Those three reagents react to make solid potassium carbonate, solid potassium sulfate, nitrogen gas, and carbon dioxide gas, so you have solid reagents reacting to make gases. No fireworks display would be complete without the ear-shattering booms that freak out dogs and resonate in our chests. who better than chair and associate professor of chemistry here at D’Youville, Dr. Dominic Ventura, to make sure you’re ready with all the firework chemistry answers you’ll need. It can take several days to several weeks designing, preparing, and setting up a 20 minute show. This explosion launches the shell into the air and lights the shell’s fuse. Generally they will take the form of an organic compound, often dextrin, which can then act as a fuel after ignition. For a complete display, fireworks often mix different metals and metal salts to give you the vibrant, multicolored effects. This works the same way as firing a cannon or an old-timey musket,” Ventura says, when asked about the basics of … The energy is supplied by the heat of the burning firework. Kaboom! Here's what that looks like: How do fireworks work? It's nothing more than some careful organization of the stars. The chemistry of fireworks begins when someone lights the primary fuse, which ignites the gunpowder. "Everything needed to create the different lights, colors, and sounds of a firework NOW WATCH: This artist makes paintings with firecracker explosions. “The crackling noise you’ll hear is the vaporizing of lead atoms. As they burn, certain metals emit different colors. get destroyed easily at higher temperatures. What about the cool shapes that fireworks make? Simply, a firework is a container — typically a tube or a ball shape — that holds explosives hitched up to a time-delay fuse. How do fireworks work? For the most part, the larger the shell the higher they’ll go. Try these cool flashes of light—underwater. Like what you see here? This fuse is on a delay to give the firework time to get higher into But, because the explosion will push the stars out in a predictable trajectory, it is possible to organize the stars in a particular pattern on the cardboard cylinder on the outside of the firework. Fireworks are explosions of numerous small pellets of black powder called stars. Fascinated by that smiley face or oddly lopsided heart in a firework display? The chemistry of fireworks begins when someone lights the primary fuse, which ignites the gunpowder. You’re doing a combustion reaction out of those types of materials that creates this detonation explosion. When the electron returns to a lower energy state the energy is released in the form of a photon (light). enough temperature that it doesn’t blend in with the night sky,” Ventura says. Fireworks get their color from metal compounds (also known as metal salts) packed inside. Gunpowder consists of 75% potassium nitrate (KNO 3 ), 15% charcoal (carbon) or sugar, and 10% sulfur. Now the chemistry of fireworks can begin. the lift charge that launches the firework into the sky also lights another fuse attached When the fuse gets low enough in the firework, it reacts with a bursting charge, which in turn lights the explosives that will disperse the stars. The heat makes the atoms inside the wire move faster and faster, causing the atoms to bump into each other more, which gives off light. To produce the colorful patterns and shapes you see, fireworks utilize a precise chemical mixture that’s going to burn at the right temperature, at the right time, and with the right colors. The stars are intentionally arranged to create various firework shapes or images. Aah!” moments. The colors that sparkle in the sky are chemical reactions happening right before your eyes. And while you're taking in the big show, you might be wondering: How exactly do fireworks work? emit those colors will be destroyed,” adds Ventura. in Group 2 of the Periodic Table of elements — alkaline earth metals such as calcium, Inside every star is an oxidizing agent, fuel, a certain metal that acts as the color, and a binder that holds it all together. Whether you'll be watching fireworks along Boston's Esplanade or somewhere else this Fourth of July, you won't be the only one relaxing this holiday. As well as gunpowder, fireworks will contain a ‘binder’ – used to hold the components together, and also to reduce the sensitivity to both shock and impact.