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Can Fireworks Explode in a Hot Car?

Although the summer hasn’t yet provided us with a flurry of hot days, we here at Firework Crazy are positive the heat wave is coming! But what about fireworks and hot weather? Could you be in danger if you leave your fireworks in your car when the weather is burning hot?

We all know that animals shouldn’t ever be left inside a car on a scorching hot day. Since fireworks are explosives, could the exposure to heat be dangerous to them as well? There have been news stories of fireworks exploding in the trunk in the past so could it be down to heat?

To understand the answer, it’s a good idea to start with a lesson on firework chemistry.

What are fireworks made of?

In terms of the explosion, your fireworks contain the charge part, which shoots the firework in the air, and the effect part, which creates the effect portion of the explosion, resulting in different looks.

The charge comes from a section that is full of gunpowder, which is referred to as black powder. This is traditionally made of:

  • 75% potassium nitrate
  • 15% charcoal
  • 10% sulphur

Modern fireworks also have other chemical combinations, often using sulphurless powder with larger quantities of potassium nitrate.

The effect part is made of finer explosive powder, including different chemicals to create the desired effect and colour.

How do fireworks explode?

To light a firework, you need to apply heat in a large quantity to cause activation energy to make the chemical compounds react. When the heat comes into contact with the charge, the firework goes through a motion called action-and-reaction. This is essentially Newton’s third law of motion – causing the firework to propel in the air. The continued combustion will then release the other components, creating the explosive effects in the air.

The energy required to cause the initial reaction is massive. You will need heat of up to 200 degrees Celsius. Essentially, you’ll need a flame to cause a reaction.

Can fireworks explode in a hot car?

Therefore, the basic answer to the question is a ‘no’. As the above examples have shown, fireworks require a spark, an ignition, to start the explosion process. Heat alone won’t be sufficient to cause this. Unless you are parked next to a volcano or your car’s window is acting as a magnifying glass, you don’t have to be scared.

Whenever this has happened in the past, the problem hasn’t been the heat. It’s usually either rogue, illegal fireworks or something else in the trunk that might have caused the explosion.

However, it still doesn’t mean you should store your fireworks in a car. First off, you can’t drive around with large amounts of explosives in your trunk – your insurance might not cover it. We’ve also written about the right storage conditions before and you ideally want something cool and dry.

So, while you don’t have to freak out if you leave fireworks in your car, you also don’t want to use your car as a storage solution for your fireworks. Enjoy your fireworks responsibly and follow the tips to make the most of these fun things!

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