Black powder, also known as gun powder, is a mixture of sulfur, potassium nitrate, and charcoal. It is the primary ingredient in most fireworks and is relatively predictable in its burning properties. It is used for aerial fireworks such as the skyrocket and for bombettes, which are exploding stars that can be as small as 130 milligrams. Similarly, black powder is used to create rockets, mortars, and rocket motors.
Skyrockets are pyrotechnic devices launched into the air by solid-fuel rockets. These rockets usually have a stick attached for stability. There are two types of skyrockets: bottle rockets and the bottle rocket, which are spherical and smaller. Both types produce different effects at the apex. Some skyrockets are stabilized by a long stick on the motor’s side, while others may have fins and spin-stabilisation.
Aerial shells for fireworks are generally made from paper balls filled with burst media and a fuse. The shell is launched and ignited when it reaches a specific altitude. The colored stars in the shell ignite and throw a spectacular light show. They are not very safe and manufacture without a BATF license is against the law. Regardless of the size of the aerial shell, proper safety procedures are essential.
Flares are a type of emergency equipment that emits a luminous cloud that is visible to other vessels. Their tip is open to the air, so they are subject to high gas velocities. High gas velocities can cause blow-off, a phenomenon in which the front of the flame is lifted from the surrounding air. Flares with low velocities can damage the tip, cause smoke, and create an unintentional flammable mixture.
Salutes are a type of firework that makes a single loud report. They are typically composed of a mixture of dark aluminum and potassium perchlorate powders with a small amount of titanium to produce a cloud of sparks and a fast flash. Salutes are commonly fired on the ground or launched from mortars in the form of a shell. While salutes are some of the most dangerous fireworks, they are not rockets.
Alternatives to barium compounds
While it is hard to think of a 4th of July celebration without the sound of fireworks, this iconic American tradition is associated with health risks. Fireworks contain high levels of barium, which is linked to abnormal heart function and impaired breathing. Fortunately, scientists in Germany are working on alternatives to barium compounds. These researchers are looking at copper as a possible replacement for barium. They also plan to use the copper for the color and shape of the fireworks.
Chemical reactions that take place in fireworks
Fireworks produce the sounds, heat, and light that we love to hear at a celebration. In addition to the visual pleasure, fireworks produce gaseous byproducts that change the atmosphere. Fireworks use a mixture of chemical compounds called gunpowder that burns at high temperatures. This gas releases energy and causes the explosive reactions that make fireworks so spectacular. The chemical reaction occurs when the solid chemicals in gunpowder react with the oxidizer.