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Tag Archives: Fireworks

Fourth of July Fireworks

We’ve all seen them. They’re absolutely amazing. They’re beautiful, loud, and brilliant. But do you know what makes the colors so vibrant?

The answer: various metals and compounds. It’s amazing, really. The colors created by these metals are so vibrant and alive, they’re mesmerizing. To produce red, the most intense color can be created using strontium or strontium carbonate (SrCO3), but a more mellow red can be achieved using lithium, lithium carbonate (Li2CO3), or lithium chloride (LiCl). For orange, calcium is the ideal metal, or the compound calcium chloride (CaCl2). For yellow, sodium or sodium nitrate (NaNO3) works the best. To produce a vibrant green, you would use barium or barium chloride (BaCl2). For a dazzling blue color, copper or copper (II) chloride (CuCl2) is perfect. Either cesium or cesium nitrate (CsNO3) make a brilliant indigo. Potassium, its compound potassium nitrate (KNO3), rubidium, or its compound rubidium nitrate (RbNO3) create a vibrant violet color. For a luminous gold color, the best compounds are charcoal, iron (Fe), or lampblack. And finally, to produce the brightest white, you can use titanium, aluminum, beryllium, or magnesium powders.

Certain elements, when added to the fireworks, can create cool effects. Zinc, a bluish white metal, creates smoke effects. Antimony creates white firework glitter effects. Phosphorus burns spontaneously in air and creates a glow-in-the-dark effect when used in the firework’s fuel. Titanium can be burned either in powder or flake form, and produces silver sparks.


The chemical composition of the fireworks is a mixture of 70% saltpeter (potassium nitrate), 15% charcoal, 10% sulfur, and 5% compounds that produce the color. To make a brightly burning ground firework, just mix these together in small amounts in a paper towel, add the color of your choice, and light it up! Stand back, of course, and make sure there’s nothing flammable nearby. These homemade fireworks won’t explode, but they’ll produce very brilliant colors in a fierce, and very hot, flame. Enjoy the Fourth of July!

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