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How do Fireworks Happen?

For those of us who love the technological and scientific aspect of everything, it is a real shame that when it comes to fireworks the only thing that people tend to see is the final result.
Don’t get us wrong, the final result is one that is often mightily impressive, with a brilliant bang and a flash of light that captivates individuals no matter what their age.
But what is behind the end result?

Lighting Up

Most fireworks use a relatively simple timing fuse, designed so the firework detonates after several seconds of elevating into the air. The elevation itself happens through lighting a lift charge, although the outside of the firework often only has one lighting point for easy use. This allows a firework to reach an appropriate height before exploding spectacularly; they wouldn’t quite be the same at ground level, would they?
Fireworks that feature multiple detonations make use of a more complex fuse system, where one explosion triggers another fuse, and so on, until the firework has been fully detonated.


Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Starry Eyed Surprise

If a firework just went up into the sky and exploded it wouldn’t have quite the same level of attraction without the colour, would it? The colourful pieces of a firework are known as the “stars,” and are mixed together using a variety of chemicals and materials in order to give each firework its unique colour. The black powder is what causes fireworks to crackle ominously as they fire into the sky and explode.
Some fireworks are famous for their distinct, high-pitched whistle when they are fired high into the sky. The placing of tubes within fireworks, so that when the fuse burns the gases generated are shot through the inner tubes to create the well-known and instantly recognisable effect, causes this effect.

Living Colours

Fireworks come in all colours, however due to science some are easier to produce than others. Based on the spectrum of light, reds, yellows, and greens are the most common and easier to produce fireworks as they require much less accuracy in mixing the chemicals in order to get the best effect.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, darker blues are the most difficult to create, as the chemical reaction needs to be almost perfect every time. Various chemicals, including magnesium, titanium, copper, and barium are involved in the production of fireworks.
Next time you attend a fireworks display, look up at the sky and think of how they are made. Not only will you know why they whistle, you will know why there are fewer blues than the other regular firework colours!

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