Category Archives: How Fireworks Work

What Makes A Firework Whistle ?


The vast majority of people may well have heard a firework ‘whistle’ but never asked what creates the sound.

We all know that they make beautiful images in the sky but digging deeper, I was surprised with the results of my findings.

Like most people I was under the impression that the noise was created wholly by the position of the holes or vents in the firework tube, but, it appears that this is not necessarily the complete story. Although some of the sounds may be as a result of the construction, for the most part, it is the salts in the firework composition which will make the sound.  Potassium Benzoate is the Potassium salt of a Benzoic acid which is also used as a food preservative as it inhibits the growth of some mould’s, yeasts and bacterium.  When the oxidiser and the Potassium Benzoate burn’s, a layer at a time, it emits the gases produced in spurts creating the whistle effect and a rather pretty pink hue.

Check out below 12 x Mini Missile barrages all set of simultaneously – that’s 2700 shots fired in 50 seconds – get the ear defenders ready 🙂


How Fireworks Really Work

Have you ever wondered how fireworks work, well we found the perfect infographic called ‘Beyond the Boom’?

The firework infographic looks at the up and coming 4th July celebrations and explains mind-boggling facts, for example, did you know that the American firework industry makes nearly $1 BILLION annually.

Beyond the Boom – How Fireworks Work
Infographic by Ghergich & Co.

It also dissects a firework to show how they work in the night sky, how high they go, the different speeds and the performance of the different sized shells.

Another interesting aspect is the breakdown of some of the biggest and amazing fireworks displays around the USA like Macy’s firework spectacular.

The video below by Dr Nikolay Gerasimchuk, who is a professor of chemistry at Missouri State University, explains a little more about the chemical reactions of propellants and explosives inside fireworks.


Back To School With Rev Ron Lancaster

Here are some very interesting videos by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) hosted by Reverend Ron Lancaster from Kimbolton fireworks – who was recently presented with a plaque in honour of his “services to pyrotechnics” for over 50 years.

The video below is the full 90-minute lecture of Reverend Ron Lancaster’s amazing “Chemistry of Fireworks”.

For those of you that don’t have the time to watch the full 90-minute video, here are some of the best bits we thought you might like:

The different types of Catherine wheels.

The different types of rockets.

The different types of Roman candles.

The different types of lancers and cakes.

The different types of firework shells.


Ron’s ‘love affair’ with fireworks began at a very early age. He was raised as a child in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, and coincidently, his house was located between two of the leading fireworks companies at that point in time, Lion Fireworks and Standard Fireworks. During the second world war, Ron would wander into the firework factories after school and be intrigued by watching the firework technicians working on military pyrotechnics. At weekends, when the firework factory was closed, Ron would collect up the used parachutes from the military flares and the empty cases – like most young children back then, they were fascinated with pyrotechnics as there wasn’t much else to do.

Something I can completely relate to 🙂