Backgroundof Fireworks A firework is a kind of device that produces a visual and auditoryeffect.

The earliest versions of fireworks were tubes made from paper andbamboo, and they were filled with finely ground charcoal and sulfur. Thesetypes of fireworks were used in China almost two thousand years ago. The tubesproduced a flash of fire and smoke when ignited, but created no explosion.Fireworks that created an explosion couldn’t be created until saltpeter mixedwith sulfur and charcoal. Most evidence says that black powder was first madein China, but some evidence suggests it was invented by the Arabs.

  The Chinese mainly used black powder tocreate bombs, rockets, and fire-work signals. Black powder was introduced toEurope in the 14th century. It was used as an explosive for bothfireworks and guns.

Black powder was used as gunpowder up until the late 19thcentury when it was replaced by nitrocellulose, but it is still used infireworks today. The fireworks in China evolved from simple firecrackers tomagnificent displays witnessed by European explorers in the 16thcentury. Fireworks in Europe began as military explosives but were adapted forthe use for celebrating victories and eventually became elaborate displaysdesigned by Italian pyrotechnics I the 16th century. Although thefirework displays by the Italians were complex and impressive, the technologyof the time limited their colour and brightness, but the introduction ofaluminum and magnesium greatly increased their brightness. While thedevelopment of potassium chlorate made it possible to produce more intensecolours. Fireworks became bigger, more powerful, and more dangerous during the20th century.

There have been more than 4,000 deaths caused byfireworks between 1900 and 1930. The Federal and State Governments beganregulating the use of fireworks in the 1930s. Fireworks such as silver salutesand cherry bombs are banned from all states, but continue to be sold illegally.While the private use of fireworks is super restricted, while public displayshave become more elaborate.

  Making of Fireworks There are several forms of fireworks that have different buildingprocesses. The first type of fireworks is sparklers. Sparklers produce brightand showery light that lasts up to a minute. Sparklers are made from severalcomponents including a fuel, an oxidizer, iron or steel powder, and a binder.The fuel used is black powder and the binder is made with either starch orsugar.

When the binder and fuel are mixed with water, they create a slurry thatcan be coated on a wire. Once it dries, you have a sparkler! Aerial fireworksare quite a bit different since they are usually formed as a shell. A shelltypically has four parts, the container, stars, bursting charge, and a fuse.The container is usually made from pasted paper, and stars are a sparkler likeproduct in the shape and size of a pea. A bursting charge is a fire-crackerlike-charge at the center of the shell. The container is filled with stars andblack powder, then it’s launched into the air via a short steel pipe called amortar!  Chemicals in FireworksWe’ve alreadydiscussed some of the chemicals used in fireworks, like charcoal, Sulphur, andsaltpeter.

Only those chemicals are mainly used in the building process, wehaven’t talked about the elements that create the brilliant colours that arecreated by fireworks. There are two main mechanisms of colour production infireworks, incandescence, and luminescence. Incandescence light is producedfrom heat. Heat causes a substance to become hot and glow, initially emittinginfrared, then red, orange, yellow, and white light as it becomes increasinglyhotter. Luminescence light is produced using energy sources other than heat.Luminescence light is sometimes called cold light because it can occur at roomtemperature and cooler temperatures.

To produce luminescence light, an electronof an atom absorbs energy, causing it to become excited, but unstable. The heatfrom the firework provides the energy required. When the electron returns to alower energy level, the energy is released in the form of a photon. The energyof the photon determines its wavelength and colour. There are quite a fewcompounds that can make the distinct colours. The compounds that make a redcolour are strontium salts and lithium salts.

Calcium salts and calciumchloride make an orange colour. An `incandescence of iron will make a goldcolour. Sodium compounds will produce a yellow colour. White-hot metals such asmagnesium and aluminum will create a white colour.Bariumchloride will produce a green colour. Copper compounds plus a chlorine producerwill make blue. And finally, to produce purple, a mixture of strontium andcopper compounds.

 Environmental Damage with the Use of Fireworks Fireworks mightbe pretty to look at but when fireworks are shot off and exploded, they releasetoxins into the air, and leaves deposits on soil, crops, and water. Forexample, copper burns blue but releases dioxins, which can cause cancer. Also,black powder alone leaves behind potassium carbonate, potassium sulfate andsulfide, plus unreacted sulfur and levels of fine particles that cause asthma,cancer, and other respiratory problems.  A2002 article estimated that U.

S. firework show may have generate 90 tons airborn lead pollution. According to a National Fire Protection Association report,fireworks cause an average of 18,500 fires per year.


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