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How Firework Colours Are Made

How Firework Colours Are Made

Fireworks displays are always a crowd-pleaser, lighting up the sky with bright, vibrant colours. But have you ever wondered how those amazing colours are created? The secret lies in chemistry. Let’s break it down in simple terms.

The Basics of Firework Colour Chemistry

The colours in fireworks come from special chemicals called metallic salts and metal oxides. When these chemicals get really hot, their electrons become excited and they release energy in the form of light. The colour of light they produce depends on the metal used in the firework.

Here are some of the most common metals used and the colours they produce:

  • Red: Made with strontium salts
  • Orange: Made with calcium salts
  • Yellow: Made with sodium salts
  • Green: Made with barium salts
  • Blue: Made with copper compounds
  • Purple: Made with a mix of copper and strontium or potassium compounds
  • White or Silver: Made with aluminum, titanium, or magnesium
  • Gold: Made with iron

Making Firework Stars

Firework stars are the small bits inside fireworks that create the colours.

Here’s how they’re made:

  1. Mixing Chemicals: Pyrotechnicians start by mixing the metallic salts with other ingredients like fuel (charcoal or sulfur), oxidizers (potassium nitrate), and binders (dextrin) to hold everything together.
  2. Forming the Stars: The mixture is moistened and shaped into small pellets, either by hand or machine. These are the “stars” that will light up the sky in the chosen firework colour.
  3. Drying the Stars: The pellets are then dried thoroughly so they burn correctly when the firework goes off.

Building the Firework Shell

Once the stars are ready, they’re packed into a firework shell along with a burst charge and a time fuse. The burst charge (usually made of black powder) makes the explosion that spreads the stars, and the time fuse ensures they ignite at the right moment to create the desired pattern and effect.

Boosting the Colours and Special Effects

To make the colours even brighter and more intense, pyrotechnicians add other chemicals to the mix. For example, chlorine donors like PVC or perchlorates can make greens and blues deeper.

Pyrotechnicians can also create different effects by varying the stars in patterns inside the shell. Layering different colours in a single star can produce a multi-coloured effect, while arranging stars in specific patterns can create shapes like hearts, stars, or smiley faces when the firework explodes.

Appreciating The Art and Science Behind Firework Colours

Creating firework colours is a mix of science and art. By using the right chemicals, pyrotechnicians can produce a stunning array of colours and effects that make modern day fireworks shows so spectacular. And now you can appreciate the next display you watch just that little but more, now that you know a bit about the magic behind those beautiful colours.

Looking to put on your own fireworks show or just want to learn more?

Here at Epic Fireworks we've been in the firework business for decades. We've got the biggest and best firework blog in the world, packed full of news, events and insights into the world of fireworks, meaning there's plenty for you to enjoy.

We're also your go-to destination for the biggest and best range of high-quality fireworks you can get in the UK and all at unbeatable prices.

Explore our huge selection of rockets, barrages, loud fireworks, quiet fireworks, mines, fountains and so much more, in every colour you could want.

Plus, if you’re not sure what to choose, our ready-made DIY firework packs come with a comprehensive firing guide, making it easy to put on a spectacular display with minimal fuss.

Explore our full range today and make your next display unforgettable with Epic Fireworks!

A photo of one of the Epic Fireworks New Year's DIY Display packs, showing the wide range of barrages, mines, fountains and rockets included as well as the safety equipment.

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