Many people enjoy the stunning light show that fireworks bring forth. However, not many people realize just how hard it is to create light shows we all know and love. Everything from the direction each sparkle travels to the colours it shines in is engineered by hand in hopes of creating the most remarkable experience possible.
While we’re on the topic of colours, let’s talk about two mechanisms responsible for colour production in any fireworks: luminescence and incandescence. We will also touch on the different materials used to produce different colours to help you grasp the idea of what it takes to produce different colours in fireworks.
Luminescence revolves around the light produced not by heat directly but by other means. In other words, luminescence is a cold light produced at much cooler temperatures compared to incandescent light which is produced directly from heat. In fact, it can be produced at room temperature.
How does it work in the real world? It all comes down to the atoms. Luminescence can be produced by allowing an atom to absorb energy, which in the firework's case, would be the heat that excites the atom itself. This causes the atom to send out energy in the forms of photons that our eyes pick up and translate into light. The colour of that photon, on the other hand, depends on the wavelength that is directly affected by the energy of the photon.
As we have mentioned, luminescence is the process of an atom absorbing energy and sending it back out as photons. This is quite different from incandescence, where light is produced directly from heat. When items get hotter, they start to glow, generally emitting specific lights such as red, orange, yellow, then white—the hottest type of light.
With fireworks, such glow is controlled by careful engineering and the use of different materials to allow the firework to reach the desired temperature to emit a specific glow. Such materials used to create glows include aluminium and titanium, both of which increases the temperature of the firework significantly and cause the glow to become bright, lighting up the night sky.
The Compounds Behind Colour
Now that we have talked about incandescence and luminescence, let us get into the different ingredients used to produce various colours. This can give you an idea of what material is used to create the light shows we all know and love and help you understand what it really takes to produce specific colours.
Red fireworks are generally created using lithium salts or strontium salts. Green is made with barium compounds mixed with chlorine producer to keep the compound stable. White can be made through incandescence using aluminium to cause the glow to become extremely bright. Blue can be made using copper compounds and still mixed with a chlorine producer to create the colour. Finally, yellow is created through sodium nitrate and other sodium compounds.
For any other colour in between, a mix of two colours is used to produce specific results. Purple, for instance, will require the compounds that produce red and green. Regardless, you can see just how complicated it can get to produce particular colours, not to mention time their burning and their direction to make the light shows even more stunning.
As you can see, the chemistry behind fireworks can be quite complicated. It takes a lot of time and skill to produce quality fireworks, and for many of these quality fireworks, it is reflected in the price. For that reason, if you want the best of the best fireworks to light up the night, we highly recommend purchasing more expensive fireworks. The price is not only due to the size or complexity of the firework, but the hard work put in by the manufacturer to ensure it provides the best experience possible!