RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – The Fourth of July holiday week is here! And fireworks will be a frequent occurrence over the next week. But do you know why fireworks are so colorful? Let me drop some science knowledge on you for a moment.
Pictured above are some of the most common metals added to fireworks to create color.
- Titanium for silver
- Sodium for gold
- Barium for green
- Strontium for red
- Copper for blue
Of course, fireworks require black powder (like carbon, potassium nitrate and sulfur) to serve as fuel for the explosion, directed upward for your viewing pleasure (and safety!).
As for the colors you see, they can be a complex blend to glow for different lengths of times during the explosion. Blending chemicals can create other colors (for example, strontium/red and copper/blue can create purple).
Many of us “oooh” and “aaah” over the shower of sparks, as well. Those use chemicals made of aluminum, iron, or titanium.
If you want to learn more about the chemistry of fireworks, I recommend THIS SITE.
Of course, it’s best to leave fireworks displays to the professionals, who work with and understand these complex and dangerous chemical reactions.
Enjoy your holiday week safely!
Meteorologist Carrie Rose