How are the vibrant colors in fireworks created?

Specific elements are chosen to be packed into a firework to create chemical reactions that alter its appearance

Fireworks (WKRN)
(WKRN)


YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The vibrant colors produced from fireworks are not a matter of chance.

Specific elements are chosen to be packed into a firework to create chemical reactions that alter its appearance.

William Weimer, the vice president of Phantom Fireworks,  said different chemicals and metal salts produce different colors.

The metals strontium, magnesium and copper create red, white and blue respectively.

Watch: YSU professor explains science behind fireworks

“The chemicals are rolled into little pellets we call stars and a shell is designed with the stars arraigned in a certain pattern,” Weimer said.

Pellets can be combined with items such as aluminum and magnesium to create special effects, said Tim Wagner, a Youngstown State University chemistry professor.

Antimony creates glitter while zinc creates smoke, for example.

Sparklers are a result of aluminum burning near 1,000 degrees.

Here are some chemicals that produce other colors:

  • Calcium: Orange
  • Iron: Gold
  • Sodium: Yellow
  • Barium: Green
  • Strontium and Copper: Purple
  • Aluminum: Silver

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