Firework displays have been used for centuries as the ultimate way to celebrate momentous occasions. From religious events to commemorating the beginning of a new year or holiday, we associate fireworks with many of the most important occasions in our lives. But do you know the science behind fireworks and how they are created?
The Chinese are credited with creating the first fireworks more than 2,000 years ago. Bamboo stalks were put into fires to create a bang as pockets of air were released. Hundreds of years later, between 700 and 900 AD, the Chinese created an early form of gunpowder using saltpeter, sulfur, charcoal and other ingredients. Bamboo stalks were filled with this concoction and “boom!” The first firecracker was born.
When this formula made its way to Europe during the 12th century, many more uses were discovered, including warfare and entertainment. As the formula continued to be perfected, fireworks became more elaborate with colors and patterns, creating the fireworks we know and love today.
Gunpowder is made mostly of potassium nitrate, with charcoal, or sugar and sulfur. When heated, the carbon dioxide creates the blast while the sulfur moderates the reaction. Today, gunpowder remains the main ingredient that creates most fireworks with the firecracker as its simplest form, using a paper tube and fuse. This mini-bomb is the classic firework example and the base that’s used to create larger, more extravagant explosions.
Of course, when most people think of fireworks, they imagine aerial explosions. The science behind the large bursts of beautiful colors is surprisingly similar to the basic firecracker. Rockets or aerial shells are created with two explosions: one to propel it into the air and a second to explode once it is airborne. The first explosion is similar to the firecracker, but instead of exploding on the ground, it pushes the second portion of the shell into the air. The second explosion also uses gunpowder, but this also contains oxidizer and colorants that are packed to create the different patterns we see when we watch firework displays. Although there are aerial fireworks that use compressed air as a propellant instead of gunpowder, many of the rockets and aerial shells used today are still gunpowder-based.
Alamo Fireworks is Your Number One Fireworks Entertainment Source
At Alamo Fireworks, we embrace the science of this popular form of entertainment to provide you and your family with top quality fireworks for all of your important occasions. From the classic firecrackers and sparklers to the large aerial shells and rockets, we have everything you need for your next big celebration. Visit one of our many store locations or shop online for your convenience.