Science of Fireworks - Happy Deepawali

Science of Fireworks - Happy Diwali

There is great science behind fireworks. Fireworks are created to express joy happiness and to celebrate many festivals like Diwali Dussehra Eid Baisakhi Christmas etc. Fireworks produce brilliant Colours sparkling and shapes. There are different chemicals, elements which produces different colours and also rocket science to move fireworks from ground to sky, where they explode to produce different sparkling and shapes.

Firework chemistry

Happy Deepawali 

We wish you all a very happy and prosperous Deepawali. 

How do fireworks work chemistry?

We all love fireworks as they give us joy and happiness. Fireworks work through a combination of chemistry and physics science to produce the lovely displays of light and colour that we enjoy during different celebrations like Diwali festival

The basic components of fireworks include a fuel, an oxidizer, a colour-producing agent, and a binder to hold everything together. 

Dear science lovers! here is the simplified explanation of the key chemical reactions involved in the fireworks: 


Common fuels used in the fireworks are charcoal, which are generally powdered charcoal or carbon rich substances (lampblack).


An oxidizer is the chemical in fireworks which provides the oxygen needed for the combustion of the fuel in firework. Most common oxidizers are potassium nitrate (KNO₃), chlorates.  When the fuel and oxidizer in the firework react, they undergo a combustion reaction:

2KNO3 (s) + C (s) ---> K2CO3 (s) + N2 (g) + CO2 (g)

This above reaction produces a very large amount of heat, light, and produce gases, which results in the characteristic explosion of the fireworks.

Colour Agents:

So many metal salts are used in fireworks to produce the vibrant attractive colours. Different metal salts emit different type of colours, when they are heated in the flame.

Example of some of metal compounds are as follows: 

  • Strontium compounds produce red colour.
  • Barium compounds produce green colour.
  • Copper compounds produce blue colour.
  • Sodium compounds produce yellow colour.
  • Calcium compounds produce orange colour.

These metal compound or metal-salts are usually mixed into the firework in the form of small, solid pellets. When the firework explodes, the metal ions of metal compounds are excited by the heat of explosion. These excited ions emit the specific wavelengths of light, which produces the desired colours.

Binders and Modifiers:

Binders are substances that hold the other components of fireworks together. Binders help in forming the compact structure of firework. 

Modifiers are the chemical agents, which are generally added to control the rate of burning and alteration of colour intensity. Modifiers also help to produce specific effects, such as sparkles.

The combination of these chemicals and arrangement in the firework shell, gives us the controlled and visually attractive display of colours with beautiful patterns when ignited. 

Firework can display a very beautiful, attractive effects in the sky with the help of different arrangements, timing and shell structure in firework compartments.

Where and when were the first fireworks invented?

The invention of fireworks is attributed to ancient China. The exact time and location of the first use of fireworks are not precisely documented, but they are generally believed to have originated over a thousand years ago, during the Tang Dynasty (618–907 AD) or possibly even earlier.

The fireworks story as spread in China is that a Chinese alchemist mixed together charcoal, sulphur, and potassium nitrate, gives starting idea of fireworks. 

What are fireworks made out of?

Fireworks are composed of several key components, each serving a specific purpose in creating the attractive visual and auditory displays. The basic ingredients of fireworks include the fuel, oxidizer, colour agents (metal salts), binders and modifiers. 

The combination of these components is scientifically formulated and arranged carefully in the firework shell to create the desired attractive visual and auditory effects. 

The outer shell of the firework system is generally made-up of paper or sometime cardboard. The purpose of the paper shell is to easily open in the sky when burst. When it opens it disperse the ignited materials, which creates the colourful display. This colourful display makes the fireworks attractive and useful during festival celebrations like Dipawali

What chemicals are used in the making of fireworks?

The use of specific chemicals in fireworks generally may vary depending on the desired effects, colours, and types of fireworks. However, some common chemical components found in fireworks are as follows:

1. Fuel:

Charcoal (carbon): Charcoal provides the fuel for the combustion reactions.

2. Oxidizer:

Potassium Nitrate (KNO₃): KNO₃ is the common oxidizer used for supplying the oxygen for the combustion of the fuel. Other nitrates and chlorates can also be used as oxidizers.

3. Colour Agents (Metal Salts):

  • Strontium compounds: Produce red colours.
  • Barium compounds: Produce green colours.
  • Copper compounds: Produce blue colours.
  • Sodium compounds: Produce yellow colours.
  • Calcium compounds: Produce orange colours.

4. Binders:

Dextrin: Dextrin is a type of starch often used as a binder in fireworks

5. Modifiers:

Aluminium or titanium: Aluminium or titanium are generally added in fireworks to produce sparkles or glittering effects. Various other chemicals are also used to control burn rates and produce specific effects.

I hope you enjoy this article on fireworks on the occasion of Diwali! If you like this article, then share this scientific information about fireworks with your friends. once again...

Happy Dipawali to all of you!

Previous Post Next Post