By Mary Penna/ECHO The 4th of July is coming up, and what better way to celebrate it than watching fireworks? Fireworks are some of the m...

The Science Behind Fireworks

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By Mary Penna/ECHO

The 4th of July is coming up, and what better way to celebrate it than watching fireworks? Fireworks are some of the most traditional and yet unique parts of the holiday. Have you ever wondered how they maintain their different shapes, colors and sizes in the air? I know I have and I did a little research on it to share with you.

The act of creating fireworks requires a strong knowledge of chemistry and physics. There are three different categories of a firework’s magic: the colors, effects, and patterns.

For starters, what is inside of a firework? It has six components: Black powder (used as the propellant), mortar (a metal chamber), stars, the shell, the bursting charge, and the fuse.


The effects of a firework are caused by different elements that create special effects.

Photo: stevespanglerscience.com

To create different multi-explosion and effects in the same fire work, multi-break shells create multiple stages for the firework. Stars of different colors create the illusion of colors that are seen, and the shells have multiple sections that are ignited with individual fuses so that when the first section bursts, the next fuse is ignited and so on. The fireworks are packed into the shell in specific patterns such as stars or smiley faces so that they maintain their shape and burst that way when they are in the air.

The firework colors are created through different metal elements and compounds. Blue-greens and vivid violet-blues are the most dangerous and complicated to make.

Photo: stevespanglerscience.com

On the third of July at ECHO we are hosting our Celebrate the Lake event with a live D.J., face painting, food and drink, crafts, and the best view of the Burlington Fireworks. Here is the link for more info and to purchase tickets.



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