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Ever wonder what makes a firework explode in color?

Expert explains how a firework works
Posted at 5:45 AM, Jul 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-04 11:16:07-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — It's that time of year where fireworks are being sold at every corner. People are grabbing their fountain and sparklers to light up and enjoy the Independence Day with their family and friends, but what makes the firework explode?

"We have the fuse, that's going to be what gets the party started," Morgan Crabtree with Desert Sky Fireworks said. "It is going to link into a canister, typically they're cardboard, or paper. Then, you're going to have clay on either side to kind of plug that in because you have all this fuel. Most of this fuel is going to be black powder. You're going to have little metal fragments and that's going to create that sparkling affect."

Crabtree said this is by adding different metal combines like magneisum and cooper, to give you the colors you see coming out of the firework.

Every firework has different compounds, with different colors. Inside each firework, you'll see compounds linked together with tape or glue. One fuse will set all the compounds off.

Crabtree said this gives you the length of your show, from two to one minute. Regardless of time, each fireworks components are the same.

"It's going to be kind of the same fuel, the same chemical components, the main thing is going to be just really what's inside of it, like what Color, or what sound or what crackle," Crabtree said.

However, she said sparklers are different.

"Typically a sparkler has a thin metal, shaft and what they do is they actually dip this continuously into a combustible paste," Crabtree said.

She said this paste is the same black powder fuel as what is inside of a fountain firework. The difference is the binder dextrin.

"It basically makes it burn a lot more slowly," Crabtree said. "That will actually burn a lot slower making that sparkler last a little bit longer."

Usually, she said, 45 seconds long.

"Whenever it actually does the sparking, it's actually little metal pieces burning off," Crabtree said. "Think of a meteor flying through the sky, some don't even make it to earth, it's just going to fizzle out. Same thing with those metal compounds and it's hardly ever going to touch the ground."

However, she said sometimes it does hit the ground, which could potential start a fire. This is why it's important to have a bucket of water present whenever putting on a firework show.

With the holiday, Crabtree said it's important to put your safety first, so you can enjoy the holiday.