Have you ever look at the night sky and find yourself immersed in the beauty of fireworks? It always looks so graceful, with the beautiful color explosion, and those majestic sounds that becoming more and more familiar every time we are going through a new year or any special occasion. We often are willing to get out of our way and just dive in deep with those beautiful stuffs that explode above our head.
If you are ever find yourself feels curious about the nature of fireworks, we are here for you. We will tell you that firework is not just a bunch of packed chemicals that we can easily stuffed into a container. Those exact color combination and sounds are actually made through exact calculation of chemistry substances and fuels. Well, it could be pretty easy to understand how firework works if you understand their simple chemistry concepts.
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How Firework Works
The main ingredient of firework, is of course: fire. To be able to generate fire, you need three things that is essential : oxygen, heat, and fuel. Now, you need to combine those three things with solid if you want to be able to generate fireworks. The common solid that is used in the making of fireworks are usually sulfur and carbon. We want them to burn rapidly because we want to produce these so called fireworks. In order to do that, we need to provide much more oxygen into the table. This way, the compound will release in rapid speed when it becomes hot. Examples of the compound is potassium chlorate.
Fireworks are produced in three different burst out of energies. They are heat, bright light, and sound. When fireworks are released to the sky, there will be acceleration of rapid release energy. This will results in the sonic sound or that sound “BOOM” which we sure are familiar in fireworks. The colors are produced by heating salt such as calcium chloride or sodium nitrate, that emit characteristic colors.
Below are the list of 18 chemistry compounds that you could find in fireworks elements in order for it to work.
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1. Aluminum (Al)
Aluminium or aluminum is a chemical element in the boron group with the symbol Al and atomic number 13. It is a silvery white, soft, non-magnetic and ductile metal. Aluminium makes up about 8% of the earth’s crust by mass and it is the 3rd most abundant element after O2 (oxygen) and Si (Silicon). For the metal element, aluminium is the most abundant element in earth’s crust. Aluminum metal is so reactive in terms of chemical.
In fireworks, aluminium is the one element responsible in giving the fireworks bright and silver color. It is most common found in the production of magstar or sparkler fireworks, giving it a nice white or silver flames. Aluminum also takes an important role in producing the sparks of fireworks.
2. Barium (Ba)
Barium is one of the chemical element with the symbol Ba and atomic number 56. It is the 5th element in the group two and a soft, silvery alkaline earth metal. Barium is never found in nature as a free element due to its natural high reactivity. In fireworks, you can find that adding barium to the table is what makes the color of the fireworks becomes green. It is also used as an element that has stabilizing function. Barium oxides (BaO) is a different kind of barium that makes fireworks searing white. It is a compound that is formed by heating barium carbonate with coke or thermally decomposing barium nitrate.
3. Carbon (C)
Carbon is a chemical element with symbol C and atomic number of 6. This chemical element is non-metallic and tetravalent – making four electrons available to form covalent chemical bonds. This is the 15th most abundance element that you can find in earth crust and it has been known since antique. In fireworks, carbon acted as propellent and usually it is thrown to the table along with sugar and starch. Just like we mention before, in order to make firework, we need sulfur, fuel and heat. Carbon is the fuel of the fireworks.
4. Calcium (Ca)
In the making of fireworks, the usage of calcium is not 100% pure calcium. Calcium plus chlorine will produce Calcium chloride which is an organic compounds that you can find in several industries. Human beings uses this compound to provide many benefits for day to day life. In fireworks, you can throw calcium chloride in the mixture and produce a wonderful bright orange color. The usage of calcium is also to enhance the color of the fireworks itself.
5. Chlorine (Cl)
Chlorine is the chemical with atomic number 17 and symbol of Cl. Meanwhile, chlorine is one of the fireworks elements that produces the color of metallic elements. Also, chlorine provides chlorine atom to produce light emission.
6. Copper (Cu)
Copper is a chemical element with a symbol Cu and atomic number 29. It is a soft, malleable and ductile metal with very high thermal and conductivity. In fireworks, when you combine copper with chlorine, you will get this amazing blue-green color. This color is one of people’s favorite when it comes to fireworks!
7. Iron (Fe)
With an atomic number of 26 and symbol Fe, iron is the most element in earth crust by mass. You could guess that this particular element is actually very useful in human day to day life. There are so many of our utilities that are made by iron. In fireworks, when you want your firework to sparks brightly, you can add this chemical substance. As for the color, you’re gonna have to leave it to the color of the metal itself.
8. Potassium (K)
In the periodic table, potassium is one of the alkali metal element. It is a chemical element with the symbol K and atomic number 19. As you might know, one of the most important thing in fireworks is black powder, as it is the fuel that can make the firework ‘work’. When you combine potassium and sulfur, you get the right amount of black powder necessary to make your fireworks ignite. Potassium is actually helping the fireworks to get to oxidation stage. Potassium nitrate, Potassium chlorate, and potassium perchlorate are all important oxidizers.
Also read: Potassium Sulfate Uses
9. Lithium (Li)
Lithium is a soft, silvery white alkali metal. With the atomic number of 3 and the symbol Li, lithium is the one colorant responsible to make your fireworks looks red. Usually, the fireworks scientist using lithium carbonate (Li2Co3) to throw to the mixture and this will produce a beautiful medium red sparks in fireworks.
10. Magnesium (Mg)
As a chemical element with the atomic number 12 and symbol Mg, magnesium is one of the most important element responsible to your bright fireworks. Because of its natural tendencies to burn a very bright white light, usually this chemical element is added in fireworks to make the color of the fireworks ignite even brighter.
11. Sodium (Na)
As a soft, silvery white metal, sodium is a chemical element with the atomic number 11 and symbol Na. This particular element has so many benefits in our human life already. Who knows that this could even be used in fireworks also? Sodium could generate a very bright golden color in the fireworks.
However, due to its nature, if we combine this element with any other color, those less intense color will be less enhanced because this element is burned in so bright golden-y color. The right decision would be making another color enhanced also with another chemical substance, OR just let it shine with solo golden light.
12. Oxygen (O)
We might think that this element of O (which is very very often we hear due to the fact that we actually need to breath them to stay alive) is useful for providing fresh air only. But no, oxygen is actually very important part of fireworks as this is one of the catalyst that could make those fireworks pop out and flies high just like we want them to. Oxygen is usually produced (through the oxidation process) by nitrates or chlorides, so those two elements are needed to add to the mixture.
13. Phosphorus (P)
Phosphorus is a bad ass that burns spontaneously in the air. It is a needed chemical element in fireworks because of its role as one of the fuel. This particular chemical element is also responsible for some glow in the dark effects.
14. Sulfur (S)
Sulfur is one of the component of black powder. You can find it as the fuel in the fireworks.
15. Antimony (Sb)
You can use antimony as a firework’s glitter effects. It is not so much needed like the element of black powder as fuel or play important part like oxidation, but the usage of antimony could definitely make your fireworks even prettier and – it will not hurt! Right?
16. Strontium (Si)
When you add strontium to salt, BOOM! you’re gonna get an intense color of red in your fireworks. While this is of course very important to make your fireworks looks merry and cheerful, adding strontium is not just that, apparently. You can make your firework more stabilize just by adding this compound.
17. Titanium (Ti)
You can add titanium in your fireworks mixture and it will produce a very beautiful, white-silvery color.
18. Zinc (Zn)
Next fireworks elements is zinc. Adding zinc to your chemical mixture of fireworks is not usually needed. But if you want a good smoke effects in the fireworks, you must add this particular chemical as zinc is one of the important element to make smoke effects in fireworks.
Indeed, every each of us may know about fireworks and maybe used to play it in night or in new years party. Thus, now you know that fireworks elements used is another chemicals compounds and includes in chemistry field.
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