‘If you’re going through hell, keep going.’ –Winston Churchill


Manufacturers all have their own recipes for creating their fireworks; but the basic chemistry behind is the same for any fireworks.

Manufacturers start by combining a mixture of metals and oxidizers such as chlorates, perchlorates, or nitrates. The type of metals used influences the fireworks colours while the oxidizers provide the oxygen needed to achieve the required temperature for the reaction. Water is also added to the mixture to bind the metals and oxidizers together. This damp mixture is then cut into smaller pieces known as “stars”.

The manufacturers then fill a fireworks shell with “stars” and black powder, a mixture of potassium nitrate, charcoal, and sulfur. A time-delay fuse is also inserted into the shell which ignites the black powder and stars causing the shell to burst open.

There are 5 basic colours for fireworks, and each colour is produced by a different metal:

White—aluminum, magnesium, or titanium


“Some colours are pretty easy, and those colours would be red and green,” says Worsey, “but you can tell how good a firework manufacturer is by the quality of their blues.” Blue is such a difficult colour to produce because the reaction temperature has to be perfect.


Some fireworks create familiar shapes like as rings, stars, and hearts as they explode. The trick behind these fireworks is the plastic mold that’s placed inside the fireworks shell.

{ Basal Science Clarified | Continue reading }

artwork { Cy Twonbly, Untitled, 1993 }