Fireworks: Secret Behind the Colors and Other Aspects

Fireworks are now an essential constituent of events of regional, national and international importance.  Fireworks are used in the inaugural functions associated with sport events like Olympics, World Cup Football Tournament etc.  It lights up religious and social festivals in all countries.  It is estimated that Americans spent around $ 700 million for the celebration of July 4, 2014. The crackers when ignited and exploded create a riot of colors in the sky and in the minds of viewers; that is the sole reason behind this massive spending. 

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Fireworks: Ingredients and Their Functions

The ingredients of crackers and their functions are:

Potassium Nitrate                     : Provides oxygen
Sulphur                                         : Supports ignition
Coal                                               : Fuel
Salts of certain metals              : For colors

Fireworks: The secret behind various colors. 

The presence of salts of metals in the fireworks is the secret behind the riot of colors. When crackers explode, the heated up salts release various colors thus presenting a memorable sight.

The following are the commonly used salts:

Barium Salt                                :Green color
Strontium Sulphate                  :Light sky blue color
Strontium  Carbonate              :Yellow color
Strontium Nitrate                     :Red
Sodium Salt                                :Golden –yellow color
Copper Salt                                 :Blue color
Aluminium powder                   :Silvery rain

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The fireworks were first made by the Chinese. Later on others like Europe, Arabia, Greece and India started producing fireworks adding their own colors and various hues. In India, a major portion of the business is concentrated in a small town named Sivakasi. 

Fireworks: Drawbacks and Accidents

Firework becomes disastrous when it goes wrong. Across the world, many accidents have happened in the units manufacturing crackers. Many often, children suffer from burns and loss of eye sight when crackers are fired without proper guidance and precautions. The accidents vary from minor burns to serious disability depending on the strength of the cracker used.  Inhaling the fumes associated with fireworks worsens asthma, bronchitis and pneumonia. Fireworks pollute the atmosphere too. 

Fireworks: Precautions to Prevent Accidents

Let us examine the steps to be followed to prevent accidents:

1.    Demark a well defined area for performance of firework. Entry shall be restricted only for one experienced person.  Use only open space. No fireworks inside a building.
2.    Remove all flammable materials from in and around the defined area.
3.    Children should be discouraged from handling crackers.
4.    Never manufacture own crackers. 
5.    Move away from the cracker immediately after lighting. Never examine the reasons for  non-explosion of a cracker immediately after lighting. Never relight an unexploded one. 
6.    Keep a safe distance from the cracker while lighting and never lean over the cracker. Never hold a lit cracker.
7.    Light up only one firework at a time.  
8.    Make water available near the defined area to meet any exigency.


Paul Humes


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