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How Have Fireworks Changed Over Time?

Although the essence of fireworks is nearly the same now as it was when the Chinese made the invention, the way fireworks look and sound has changed dramatically over the years. The colours, the effects and even the size of the firepower used in fireworks have gone through a massive development process.
Here’s a look at how fireworks have changed over the years.

backshot of a crowd of people watching fireworks

Changes in Build

One of the most obvious changes has taken place in the way fireworks are built. The early firecrackers in China were simply bamboo casings filled with gunpowder. The bamboo casing also had a fuse to light up the firework.
As the development of gunpowder took further leaps, the casings also improved. Over the years, scientists tried different materials and the most common material used today is simple cardboard.
Instead of using a single casing for the powder, fireworks now include a number of different sized cartridges. This guarantees the firework has different effects and doesn’t explode all at once.
The improvements in build are behind the different effects as well. Whereas the early fireworks moved from simple crackling crackers to big rockets, you can now buy mines, wheels and even fireworks that create symbols and letters on the night sky!

Changes in Sound

The early fireworks were all about the loud crackling noise. In ancient China, the sound effects of firecrackers were thought to ward off evil spirits. Small quantities of gunpowder meant the noise was a crackling sound – guaranteed to spook the living and the dead!
Later on, the increase in gunpowder turned fireworks bigger and thus made the sounds louder as well. For a while, the bigger the bang the more the audience liked it. Different whistling effects were also added to fireworks by using different chemicals.
But recent years have seen firework development move towards low-noise fireworks. You can now buy products that won’t make much of a sound – just a simple thud at the start. These are great for crowds with children and for pets, as well as anyone who doesn’t appreciate the big bangs.

Changes in Colour

Perhaps the most surprising thing for many is how fireworks didn’t become colourful until quite late in their development. Early fireworks were almost entirely made by using charcoal, sulphur and potassium nitrate, which meant the colour stayed constantly yellowish.
During the 19th century, pyrotechnicians started to combine different chemicals in order to make different colours appear for our pleasure. Nowadays, you can enjoy tons of different colours in fireworks. If you want to find out more, check out the post on how fireworks get their colour.

Changes in Firepower

Finally, fireworks have seen big shifts in the amount of firepower. Developments in gunpowder use meant that firework manufacturers in China were able to make bigger explosions. Just like with the sound effects, the quest remained to create amazing and huge explosion.
But different firework accidents over the years have tightened government regulations. The legal limits of gunpowder in fireworks have lowered, especially when it comes to commercial fireworks.

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