Archive for the ‘Fireworks’ Category

Common Fireworks Materials

November 4, 2010

                    Oxidizing Agents

  English Name Molecular Formula
Potassium  Nitrate KNO3
Potassium  permanganate KCIO4
Potassium  Chlorate KCIO3
Potassium  Chlorate Ba(CIO3)2
Barium Nitrate Ba(NO3)2
Strontium Nitrate Sr(NO3)2
Sodium Nitrate NaNO3
Ammonium per chlorate NH4CIO4
Potassium Dichromate K2Cr2O7
Potassium permanganate KMnO4
Barium peroxide BaO2
Iron Oxides Fe3O4
Copper Oxides CuO
Lead Oxides Pb3O4



English Name Molecular Formula
Aluminum Al
Magnesium Mg
Magnalium Mg Al
Sulfur S
Phosphor P
Antimony Trisulphide Sb2s3
Arsenic Sulphide Realgar AsS
Orpiment As2s3
English name Molecular formula
Iron Fe
Hexamine (CH2)6N4
Nitro cotton (C6H7O2(NO2)(OH)3)n
Charcoal C
Lactose (C12H24O12)
Dextrin (C6H10O5)n.H2O
Tungsten W
Nickel Ni
Molybdenum Mo
Manganese Mn
Silicon Si
Vanadium V
Chrome Cr
Zirconium Zr
Boron B
Silicon-iron Fesi
Zinc Zn
Hexachlorobenzene C6CI6


                       Special Effects Materials

English Name Molecular Formula
Potassium Per chlorate KCIO4
Potassium chlorate KCIO3
Potassium picrate C6H2(NO2)3OK
Gallic Acid C7H6O5.H2O
Hexachloroethane C2CI6
sulphur S
Realgar AsS
Authracene C14H10
Naphthalene C10H8


                   Binding Agents

English name Molecular formula
Shell-lac C16H24O5
Phenolic Alde Hyde C48H42O7
Polyvingl chloride (CH2-CHOH)12
Colophony C20H30O2
Starch (C6H10O5)n
Lactose C12H24012
Dextrin (C6H10O5)N.H2O
Glutin (CH2-NH-CO)n


                 Catalytic Agents

English name Molecular formula
Manganese Dioxide MnO2
Boracic Acid H3BO3
Zinc Oxide ZNO
Alcohol C2H5OH
Vegetable Oil C16H26O2
Paraftin Wax  
Stearic Acid C17H35COOH


                        Color Producing Agents

English Name Molecular Formula
Sodium Oxalate Na2C2O4
Ultramarine Na2S2.3NaAISiO4
Cryolite-Greenland Spar Na2SiF6
Cryolite Greenland Spar Na3AIF6
Sodium Carbonate Na2CO3
Baking Soda Na2HCO3
Sodium Chloride NaCI
Sodium Nitrate NaNO3
Barium Carbonate BaCO3
Barium Nitrate Ba(NO3)2
Strontium Nitrate Sr(NO3)2
Strontium Carbonate SrCO3
Strontium Oxalate SrC2O4.H2o
Copper Acetoarsenite

(Paris Green)

Copper Arsenite CuHAsQ3
Bluestone CuSO4.5H2O
Copper Cu
Basic copper carbonate Cu2(OH)2CO3
Calcium carbonate CaCO3

The Fireworks Display for the Wedding Ceremony

November 4, 2010

That night after dinner, there was to be the promised fireworks display. Afei seemed to have made himself the sponsor and exponent of this display. He talked about in the whole day and watched the pyrotechnics set up the high pole on the west of the house near the temple ground. Ti was thought that the orchard at the back was too small and too full of trees which would obstruct the view, and Malan’s father wanted this to be a show for the whole neighborhood. The wedding was well known , and rumors about the special fireworks had gone about, so that at seven o’ clock the alleys all round were jammed with people, and some even sat perched on the temple wall.

   The series of different fireworks were arranged on horizontal bars like sail yards extending from a wooden pole about twenty feet high. The fuses were so timed and connected that once the first spark was set the scenes followed one another automatically. Before the display started, it looked like a number of packages of paper and folded bamboo frames suspended on the yards; yet these had to be so arranged and protected from sparks that they should not catch fire and burn before their time. At the  top of the pole was a fairy stork, which started the show by emitting from its mouth a flame which shot high into the sky and then with an explosion broke into a cascade of falling stars of gold and purple. Then followed nine successive shooting rockets, which were called “nine dragons entering the clouds.”

   “this is not the best,” said A fei. “ there is the rotating monkey to come nest.”

True it was, for suddenly there sprang up from one of the bamboo frames the shape of a red monkey lighted from within and whizzing around by the force of its backfire, spreading from its buttocks a circle of hissing sparks,  so that the faces of the women and children standing near the pole were suddenly lighted.

“that’s the monkey passing urine!” cried Afei triumphantly.

Next a great green watermelon burst open, scattering sparks and making a succession of small explosions. Red jade put her hands over her ears in fear, and Afei said, “that is nothing to be afraid of . Afei seemed to have memorized the whole sequence. When the last cinders from the watermelon were dying out, out dropped indeed a cluster of purple and white grapes, suddenly brightening the scene with a silent glow. Everybody gasped and enjoyed the beauty, watching the resinous stuff gradually burning out and dropping to the ground.

After this came the “dropping peaches” and a rotating wheel turning by its own force on the rocket principle, and then came the most beautiful scene of all. All of a sudden a seven-storied paper pagoda five feet long sprang from its frame and hung down, every story lighted from within. Two or three silent scenes followed, which spread thick clouds of colored smoke. Then came the “quick-opening lotus” and the “slow-opening lotus”. Then “darting mice” were let loose in mid-air in the form of small colored flames which fell to the ground darting and wriggling in all directions and creating great excitement in the inner circle before they died away. After these came various lighted tableaus such as “Eight Fairies Holding the Longevity peach” and “seven saints subduing the demon”, with the red demon burning up in smoke. There were pastoral scenes and scenes of houseboats and vermilion towers with ladies sitting in them. The display ended with “three successive promotions” in the form of a great rocket which gave out three successive explosions high in the air. When this was finished, the crowd went away, regretting that the end came so soon.

Fireworks Standards(British)

October 29, 2010

     British standard

     In 1988 there was published in the UK a British Standard(number 7114(72))which defines the performance and labeling requirements for those items considered safe for use by the general public in the UK.The standard itself is in 3 parts:

     Part 1 – Classification of fireworks

     Part 2 – Specification for fireworks

     Part 3 – Methods of test for fireworks

     Table 8.1 shows the standard 3 categories of fireworks suitable for use by the general public.

                          Table 8.1 British Standard

Category Definition Fireworks General Requirements
1 Fireworks suitable for use

Inside domestic buildings

(generally)known as indoor



Smoke devices,

Party poppers,

Table bomb,

Throw down,

Novelty match,

Non-hand-held sparkler,

Hand-held sparkler,

Cracker snap,


Performance must comply

 With the standard

(diverse-depending on


Correct labeling for each ]


Item specific details are maximum weight.

In general(except sparklers)

No items should be


Batch testing of

Construction, labeling

And performance.

2 Fireworks suitable for

Outdoor use in relatively

Confined areas(generally)

Known as garden




Roman candle,




Non-hand-held sparkler,



No lit debris outside 3m,

Below 3m

(recommended viewing

Distance 5m).

Fuse time between 3 and 13


Correct labeling for each


Item specific details are

Maximum weight, caliber


In general(except sparklers)

No items should be hand-held.

Batch testing of

Construction, labeling and


3 Fireworks suitable for

Outdoor use in large open

Spaces(generally known as

Display fireworks)



Roman candle,




Non-hand-held sparkler,




No lit debris outside 20m

Below 3m(minimum

Viewing distance 25m).

Fuse time between 5 and 15 seconds.

Correct labeling for each item.

Item specific details are

Maximum weight, caliber


Batch testing of

Construction, labeling

And performance.



   In this manner, for instance, fountains without the correct fusing or labeling are deemed Category 4,even though their performance is very limited it is incorrect to assume that all category 4 fireworks are by”definition”larger,more powerful items than would be permitted for sale to the general public.Fireworks that do not conform to the requirements of categories 1,2 or 3 are deemed to be category 4 and thus unsuitable for sale to the public.

   Each”batch”of fireworks needs to be tested for compliance with the standard. A sample(the number is determined according to BS 6001)is tested for both performance and construction criteria.If the sample fails then whole batch in deemed to have failed and must be re-tested prior to sale to the general public.

   The British standard has undergone some modification since 1988.And in 1966 certain items were banned from sale to the general public even though they meet the requirements of the standard as a result of the firework safety regulations.

Fireworks Display

October 28, 2010

The modern display often has to perform to audiences of much greater size than those of the past, which also can restrict choices in the use of some types of firework.

Perhaps the biggest factor in shaping our modern displays has been time. Despite an ever greater increase in facilities designed to make better use of time and cut the length of  time needed to achieve various tasks, it seems to become an ever more precious commodity. The majority of our displays are now rigged and fired on the same day. The majority of the fusing and preparation takes place in the factory, long before the display site is ever reached, leaving only the final assembly and placing of roman barrages and racks of mortars into their positions on the display site itself. Gone are the days when marquees would be erected on site, and great teams of men would spend several days in preparation. Even a relatively large show can now be prepared by just two or three men in a day. Certainly the electrical firing of displays helps, but even now it may come as a surprise to some that we still fire smaller shows by hand.

It is always possible to elevate people’s feelings to great heights in a show, but very difficult to keep them there, which is why this variety in effect is so important.

Perhaps the greatest trend of recent years has been the introduction of the pyromusical, which offers many advantages and adds an extra dimension to the show. When attempting to play with the play with the audiences’ emotions, much can be gained with the addition of music.

Traditionally, firework displays were preformed by the manufacturers of fireworks themselves. Clearly it is not the case today, as by far and away the majority of “firework companies” to be found in the telephone book have never even added a lifting charge to a shell. Since the majority of advancement in the firework world has been in the display side of the business, it can be argued that the displaying of fireworks is now an entirely separate skill.

The majority of firework displays around the world were traditionally linked to religious festivals.

The basic principle of performing a mascleta display has remained unchanged through the years. It is born through a combination of sounds through time, attempting to keep a distinctive rhythm. The show itself can be split into three sections; the beginning, main body and the end.


Traditionally, the beginning consisted of at least ten aerial maroons to mark the start of the display. In modern times smoke whistles and bummers have also been added.

                       Main body

The main body consists principally of ground based elements of the show, the long strings of mascleta held on wires at head height, allowing their sound to reverberate of the floor. The fast tempo gradually increases to the “traca final” or “earthquake.”


Coinciding with the effects of the main body of the show, the display heads to the air again, with a series of explosions which are of greater frequency than those on the ground. The frequency gradually slows, but as it does the power of the explosion increases, until the deafening finale.

The following is fireworks display program for the opening ceremony at the first international forum on fireworks safety and quality and the 5th china liu yang international fireworks festival.

                          Fireworks Display Program

                   Part one : A gun salute to our guests

Five streams of shooting stars flowing in the sky, a series of large Chinese characters “the fifth international firecrackers festival opening ceremony” shown before your eyes. A large colorful fireworks earth moves around slowly to welcome to the guests from the world and brings us joy.

                 Part two: meeting in liu yang

In the sky, accompanied by the cheerful music of liu yang river, we will find a group of golden Chinese characters “welcome to liu yang ,chine, home of fireworks.” Then, followed by “waterfalls” flowing, “fountains” waving up, “tiger tails” dancing, “potted flowers” sprouting. The colorful sky reverberates the laughers of liu yang people whose minds are opening to the world.

                  Part three: A glory sky

Soul-striving thunders strike the instant silence, salute after salute, golden, silver, green, purple, a multitude of shells color the sky.

                Part four: red lantern congratulation

Thousands of red lantern drift with the tide. Thousands of lotus flowers are floating in the sky. The colorful lanterns like stars twinkling in the far sky create a warm and joyous festival atmosphere.

                 Part five: an oasis night song

The oasis gushes out in the sky. Green flowers, green waves, green lights leap up to a vigorous and evergreen life.

                 Part six: golden October

Firing wheels flying and rolling, golden snakes dancing crazily, orchids sprouting red flowers, rice waves fooling on, all these beautify the night sky and spread the harvest of happiness and joy.

                 Part seven: An unforgettable night

Salvoes and fireworks spread happiness. Various fireworks look like flowers in the garden. Time stops, happiness and friendship will linger us forever.

Fireworks Products And Effects (I)

October 26, 2010

                         Colored Flames

Colored flames are made with almost the same compositions as those used for stars, except fuels which are used to make stars burn rapidly (   charcoal for example) are usually omitted. On the contrary it is usual in these items to add materials which will retard the burning rate. Colored fires. Torches and Bengal illuminations which are sold to the public are usually required to burn quite slowly. And normally have the burning rate reduced by adjusting the fuel. The use of coarsely ground materials, or the cutting down or increasing of the amount of fuel can have this effect, but it is also usual to add retardants such as sawdust, wood flour, starch or flour. The addition of these materials also makes the composition cheaper, of course, but care must be taken with materials such as wood meal since they can contain a good deal of water.

                   Bengal illuminations

This special type of flare candle is used for illuminating public buildings and is extensively used in Europe for castles which particularly lend themselves to this type of illumination. In order to fulfill the necessary conditions, the composition should produce maximum color, burn efficiently but as slowly  as  possible, (i.e.40 to 60 seconds per 25mm), and not emit too much smoke.

The candles are made in various sizes, but the large ones are about 60mm in diameter 30cm long and have a wall thickness of about 1.5mm. the end of the candle is fitted with a wooden plug and a screw eye for attachment to the holder. The candle is fixed so that it burns in a horizontal position, so that the dross will not run down the side of the thin wad accelerate the burning time. Lastly, the candle is placed behind some kind of shield so that the onlookers do not see it burning.


Large quantities of these items are manufactured every year for use in making set pieces, as fire pictures, mottos, all made with these little tubes of colored fire. Lances are usually 8mm or 10mm in diameter and about 10cm long. The paper is usually an 0.004 bond or poster paper cut up into pieces 95mmX125mm,and they are dry-tolled on a former which is countersunk at one end.

A funnel and wire are used to charge the composition, but the base of the funnel has a nozzle which goes about 10mm into the lance tube. In this way, the lances can be filled to within 10mm of the top. The nest operation is to add topping composition in a similar way, to a depth of 8mm.

                          Port fires

Port fires, which are used for lighting fireworks are exactly the same way as lances, except that the tube is usually longer and has a  slightly thicker tube. Port fires are normally 9mm inside diameter and a bout 38cm long. The paper for the 38cm size would be 18cm X 38cm. port fires usually burn three or four minutes, but they must not burn too slowly or they are apt to go out.


The general principle of formulation is to ensure that there is an excess of aluminum present. In order that the burning material will fall to the ground with the appropriate sparks. The tube is usually a wet rolled tube consisting of four or five a  0.010 Kraft paper on a 18mm-24mm former. The tube 15 to 30cm naturally must burn away with the composition or else the essential dross will not fall to the ground.

                     Roman Candles

There can be no doubt that it requires much practice to make really good roman candles, and the best ones are still made by hand. So many factors play a part in the performance of the candle with the inevitable result that there is always something to go wrong.

The best tubes are hand rolled and it is quite essential that the inside lap of paper is completely stuck down or else the powder will creep down the loose paper, cause a “blow-through” and eject stars like machine-gun bullets.

The quality of the paper of the tube is also quite important. A good quality Kraft paper, for example, rolled with good casein glue, provides a tough tube which hardly burns a way during the firing of the candle.

The fuse ideally should produce a good show of golden sparks, but this is not necessary, of course, and there is always a tendency to produce too much smoke as would be expected.


 Comets are single roman candle stars in their simplest form, but they are usually gunpowder type compositions since they are ejected at great speeds. The smaller comets of about 24mm in diameter can be adequately charged with a mallet, but the larger comets should be pressed in order to get greater consistency.

Effective comet bombs can be made by pressing a star in the bottom of a paper tube and then filling the remainder of the tube with stars or other effects. The result is a spiral of fire terminating in a star burst.


The ordinary mines are simply a charge of gunpowder and stars at the base of a strong tube which acts as a gun.

                    Flash and sound

Explosive fireworks more than anything else have been the cause of serious accidents and they have probably done more damage to the firework in dusty than anything else! Flash crackers in their various forms were on sale to the public for far too long and happily have been forbidden in many European countries.

Flash compositions of some types will cause explosions in the lightest of containers-even sometimes in just a few turns of paper-but it also happens that these compositions are extremely breast and sensitive. Horrifying mixtures of potassium chlorate, pyre aluminum, sculpture and barium nitrate have been employed and should be avoided at all costs.

These mixtures in themselves were very sensitive to impact and friction and a quantity of less than 1 gm could be quite devastating.


The oldest whistles were made with potassium pirate. Pirate whistles are very shrill and can be very entertaining in roman candles with their black tails.

Picric whistles are not popular with the firework mainly because no one cares to work with them. The salt stains the fingers and clothing a bright yellow, and the taste is bitter and unpleasant.

It is well known that picric acid and its salts are sensitive to impact and great care needs to be taken when charging potassium pirate.

                   Humming fireworks

Humming fireworks are constructed in a manner which will allow a jet of issue out of a tube at such a speed and at such an angle that the tube will be caused to rotate on its own axis. In the air this causes a humming noise.

The best hummers are made with a long steady stream of gas.


Rockets are one of the oldest pyrotechnic devices. All rockets, the smallest firework to the giant satellite carrying Saturn, have four basic components in common. They are:

A case or rocket motor;

A “choke” or Ventura;

A propellant charge;

A flight stabilizing device.

Rockets are reaction motors. On ignition, the propellant charge produces gas a high temperature and so internal pressure of the gases in the rocket body is raised. Rocket bodies or cases may be made from a variety of materials.

The “choke” or venture is an important part of the rocket. In firework rockets the “choke” is quite crude and is often formed by constricting case whilst it is damp.

The traditional propellant charge for firework rocket is either:


A mixture of mea led gunpowder and charcoal; 

A simple mixture of potassium nitrate, sculpture and charcoal;

A mixture of mea led gunpowder and calcium carbonate.

Charcoal is the most difficult ingredient to control.

Stabilization of firework rockets is achieved by means of a stick.


Wheels and moving fireworks are operated by rockets or more commonly by drivers. Drivers are stout tubes from 12mm to 40mm internal diameter, choked down to about 1/3 of a diameter and charged with a fierce composition containing a high percentage of gunpowder.

Small wheels are turned quite adequately with tubes which are 12mm or 16mm in diameter and a bout 100mm long.

The smaller drivers are used for a variety of different types wheels.

Large drivers are used for the bigger display wheels from 2-5 meters in diameter.


These fireworks are used in combination with a small color case to produce small colored wheels which are usually part of a larger design.

Thick walled tubes are charged with composition, but the tube is closed with clay at both ends, and the fire issues from a hole which is cut into the side of the tube at right angles to the axis of the tube.


The French word “tourbillion” or “whirl wind” is still used to describe these fireworks which have appeared in many forms and sizes. The older and larger forms were in effect a fierce type of Saxon which first of all spun around on the ground and then lifted up into the air by means of two or four boles bored in the underside.

The larger sizes are made with a tube which is approximately 24mm. diameter, 20cm. long and with thickness of 6mm.

Fireworks Materials (Ⅲ)

October 25, 2010

                       Lron, Fe

  There can be little doubt that iron has used in fireworks from the earliest times. Apart from the steel dust for the manufacture of sparklers, the best iron for fireworks is the ordinary iron borings which have been broken down to a rough powder which will pass 20 mesh. The long needle like fragments give the best effects.

                    Lron Oxides

   The black magnetic form, fe3o4 is used the r mite and incendiary compositions and the brown form fe2o3 has been used in first fires and ignition compositions where high temperatures are needed.

                    Lead Oxides

   The  red form,pb3o4 and the chocolate colored dioxide, pbo2 have been used in first fires and ignitions for military purposes, and  are potentially useful for fireworks also. Combined with magnesium, it is used for crackling micro stars.

                    Magnesium . Mg

On the other hand, it is indispensable in situations where it is essential to gain high candle power in signal flares.

                         Magnesium Mg/AL

  Magnesium is used in fireworks for a variety of purposed;

  1 . in coarse powder of about 30-50 mesh the metal produces a sharp crackling noise in colored flame fountains. The presence of  cryol It e seems to enhance this effect.

  2 . Dust free coarse powders produce pleasant sizzling effects in some stars.

  3 . The finer powders from 120 mesh onwards are used to enhance colored flames, produce some silver effects and to produce the newer blinker strobe effects. Come from magnesium burning with the nitrates of barium or strontium where the irrational burning can be varied with catalysts.

                             Paraffin Oil Compounds

Paraffin oil finds some use in fireworks and frequently performs more than one function at a time. When it is added to a colored fore mixture, for instance, not only does it help to reduce the influx of moisture and reduce the sensitivity, but it also makes the mixture easier to press. Normally about 1% used for these purposes.

Paraffin wax is usually used to coat metal powders or to waterproof finished fireworks, which are merely dipped in the molten wax.

              Potassium Chlorate, KCIO3

It is one of the most important chemicals used in the firework industry. This material is prepared by the electrolysis of potassium chloride solution, and is frequently imported into England from Spain and Switzer land. The sensitive nature of potassium chlorate is a problem to the firework manufacturer, particularly in the presence of sulphur , ammonium salts, and phosphorus, and none of these materials should be used with it.

                    Silicon, Si

 The material is only used in fireworks as an igniter in certain types of fireworks which needs a hot slag to initiate the reaction.

                    Sodium Nitrate, NaNO3

The crystals are readily soluble in water and melt at 308C. in combination with magnesium, it is useful for illuminating flares, but the stores have to be sealed so that they do not come into contact with the air.

                      Sodium Oxalate, Na2c2o4

There are two main uses for this substance. The first use is for the production of yellow colors in combination with potassium per chlorate and suitable fuels. The second use is the production of yellow glitter effects, with gunpowder, aluminum and antimony.

                   Stear Ine-Stear Ic Acid

The main use for this material is for adding it to some compositions which are somewhat sensitive to friction. It can also be used in those fireworks where  it is desirable to have along flame.


 Lactose,c12h11o11.h20 is sometimes used as a fuel in firework manufacture. Used in compositions which are required to react at low temperatures, it is of use in the manufacture of some blue colors. It also replaces sucrose, which is more sensitive with chlorates. Perhaps the most extensive use is in the manufacture of smokes using organic dyes.


It’s one of the most important fuels of the firework industry. It is a pale yellow, fairly dense powder, all of which should pass 120 mesh.

                     Titanium. Ti

The metal is easily ignited to produce brilliant silver sparks. It can be used in just the same way as iron powder, and has the advantage of not needing to be coated . like all new things it may have been overused, but no one regrets the absence of the dirtier old aluminum powders.

                 Titanium Dioxide. TiO2

This oxide is not much used by the firework industry, but occasionally features in some smoke compositions and is sometimes added to waterproof paints.

                 Zinc , Zn

Certain recipes in the old firework books included zinc, but little use is made of the finely powdered variety except in the manufacture of certain types of smokes. Zinc smokes are very efficient and very good, but they are somewhat sensitive to moisture and have been known to react and ignite themselves. Most schoolboys know that a mixture of zinc, ammonium nitrate and ammonium chloride will catch fire when a small amount of water is added to the powder.

                Zinc Oxide Z n O

The principal use for this material is also in the manufacture of smokes.

Fireworks Materials (II)

October 22, 2010

                 Barium Carbonate,Baco3

 Barium Carbonate is no use as a coloring agent in low temperature flames, but is often used to reduce acid formation in mixtures or to slow down the speed of some compositions.

                  Barium Chlorate Ba (CIO3)2H2O

Barium chlorate is one of the most sensitive chemicals which is used in firework manufacture, but it is difficult to manage without it when deep green colors are required. It is wise to use this substance as little as possible and to use it in combination with other substances which will tend to reduce the sensitivity.

                  Barium Nitrate, Ba (NO3)2

This is perhaps one of the most useful and stable of the nitrates, but is somewhat limited in use. Low temperature green colors are not very strong when they are made with barium nitrate, though the frequently features in compositions made with barium chlorate as the main coloring agent.

More than anything else this substance is used in combination with aluminum powder for the production of silver effects. Silver stars, flares and waterfalls invariably utilize barium nitrate and the aluminum combined with it is frequently mistaken for magnesium by the uninitiated.

Although barium peroxide is used in pyrotechnics, it is not suitable for use in fireworks owing to its very reactive nature.

                  Beta Naphthol , C10H7OH

Manufactured mainly for the dye industry, this substance has found an occasional use as a fuel in colored stars, mainly because of its carbon content.

                       Boron, B

Mixtures of boron with oxidants, such as oxides, peroxides, chromates, nitrates and s u l p h a t e s, burn in different ways, the combustion ranging from rapid burning accompanied by long flames and showers of sparks to very slow combustion and the evolution of little or no gas.

Mixtures of boron with potassium nitrate produce compositions that consolidate well when pressed, and are easy to ignite as they are sensitive to flash. These are used as priming or first fore compositions because of their ability to transfer heat to other compositions. The addition of silicon enhances this effect.

The majority of compositions containing boron are sensitive to friction and shock. Also the more reactive mixtures are very sensitive to ignition by electrostatic spark.

              Calcium Carbonate, CaCO3

The precipitated form of this compound finds an occasional use as a neutralizer in some mixtures, in Armstrong’s Mixture, matches, and snakes made with nitrated pitch. It is also used to make rockets. It  is also used in high temperature flames for orange co lour.

                   Calcium Silicide, CaSi2

It finds use mainly as a fuel for self-heating cans of soup and is often an important component in smoke compositions.

                  Carbon Black-Lampblack

Carbon black is used to make Flower Pots, the unusual little golden fountains with their own special type of gold spark. Golden streamer stars also employ carbon black for the best effects.

                      Castor Oil

It is used mainly as a protection for magnesium, but it is also as a binder or lubricant in that it reduces the friction of the powder against the walls of the container into which it is pressed.


This material is an important part of firework manufacture, for it is used to block up the ends of tubes or to provide a washer through which fire can be forced in order to produce pressure.

                    Copper Powder

Use has sometimes been made of the bronze and electrolytic copper powders for the production of the blue colors, or as intensifiers for green colors, but this is not very common, for the same effects can be achieved by more efficient means.

               Copper Acetoarsenite ( CuO)3As2O3CU(C2H3O2)

                             2-Paris Green

It has an intense green color, is insoluble in water and alcohol, but soluble in acids. Needless to say it is toxic, and sometimes caused nose bleeding and skin rashes. Apart from the compositions employing ammonium  per chlorate , Paris Green still provides the best blue colors.

                        Copper Oxides

   Both copper (I ) and spacing copper ( II ) oxides are used now for ignition and  starter compositions in conjunction with silicon and lead (IV) oxide. However the availability of good halogen donors and the disadvantages of  Paris  Green have caused a revival of the use of copper oxide for making blue colors.

                      Dextrin (C6H10O5)n

  As it is soluble in water and has good adhesive properties, it is used extensively as a binder in fireworks. It is fairly usual to add a few percent of the dry powder to a star composition during the mixing operation and then add water prior to star formation.


  The quality of the materials used for smoke production is important, particularly the particle size of the dyes and their freedom from inorganic salts.


  It was also used in some compositions to retard the burning speed.


  Shellac, acaroids resin and copal gum are all used as fuels, mainly for the production of color.

                   Hexachlorobenzene, C6CL6

  Extensive use of this material as a chlorine donor in color mixtures appears to have been made in the past. This substance is the well known insecticide.

Fireworks Materials( I )

October 21, 2010

The materials used in firework manufacture can be divided into the following categories:

   1 . Oxidizing agents

   2 . Fuels

   3 . Color producing agents

   4 . Substances which improve particular effects (color, light)

   5 . Substances which produce smoke

   6 . Binding agents

   7 . Phlegmat Izers  which reduce the sensitivity of mixtures

   8 . Stabilizers which help to prevent chemical reactions

   9 . Substances which accelerate or retard combustion

   10 . Aids in production, such as solvents, and lubricants

  The followings are the materials which usually are used in fireworks manufacture and their functions.


   Over the last seventy or eighty years aluminum has added tremendously to the last brilliance of fireworks, and yet the great variety in production techniques has caused problems in the production of uniform effects. The powders are prepared in hammer mills, in ball mills, or by atomization.

   Flake aluminum in mesh sizes is known as “ flitter ” and there has been a tendency for manufacturers to sell this to the firework trade under the categories of “ fine”, “middle” and “coarse”.

The so called Dark Pyro Aluminum consists of a very fine flake powder that is produced in varying shades of dark grey.

Atomized aluminum is being used increasingly in fireworks. But up to the present time only limited use has been found for this material.

                       Ammonium Salts

   In the past , white smokes have been made with potassium chlorate and ammonium chlorate, and it has to be admitted that mixture appears to be reasonably stable, though at first sight theoretically this should not be so .

                           Ammonium per chlorate

   In recent years ammonium perch orate has been used extensively, not only in fireworks for the production of rich blue and red colors, but also in the manufacture of propellants. It can be safely mixed with pure potassium per chlorate but must not be used with chlorates, and it is unwise to mix ammonium per chlorate stars with other chlorate stars in the same shell or rocket.


   The  pure form occurs as fine blue fluorescent crystals which melt at about 213c. it is insoluble in water and rather sparingly soluble in most organic solvents.

   Anthracene is mainly used in combination with potassium per chlorate to produce black smokes.

                              Antimony, Sb

   Antimony is mainly used to produce white fires in combination with potassium nitrate and sulphuror it is used in combination with aluminum to aid ignition. Antimony is also responsible in part for the well known glitter effect which is basically a combination of gunpowder, antimony and aluminum.

                           Antimony Trisulphide , Sb2S3

  As a fuel, its uses are much the same as the metal powder, though it ignites more easily. It has disadvantage also that it is more dirty to handle than the metal powder.

  Synthetically produced material is not usually used in fireworks and it can be difficult to get good glitter effects from it.

                     Arsenic disulphide,As2s2 Real gar

   The native ore, realgar , is sometimes ground to a fine powder and used to make white fires. It has also been used for making smokes.

                      Arsenic Trisulphide , As2s3 Orpiment

   The commercial powder has two forms, one yellow and one red . the yellow form changes to red on heating to  170c.

   The red form is often used to make white stars which have the advantage of being easy to ignite when moving at very fast speeds. A part from the occasional use in smokes, orpiment is used in combination with carbon black for making. Flower Pots with their characteristic golden spur fire.

Arsenic is safe to handle, of course, provided that precautions are taken to keep it out of the nose and mouth.

Fireworks History

October 20, 2010

 Working with fire probably began about half a million years ago when patriarchal cavemen realized that they felt cold and began rubbing pieces of wood together until the friction caused an ignition.

It is only within the last 200 years or so that fire was correctly interpreted as being a form of energy where the flames are defined as regions of luminous hot gas.

By about the eighth century AD , the Chinese alchemists, amongst others, were preoccupied with discovering the elixir of life . Concoctions were made containing all manner of substances including oils, honey and beeswax, but among the most significant, were the ingredients sulfur and saltpeter.

A bout 1000 AD the Chinese were using a propellant similar to gunpowder in crude forms of rockets(Flying Fire),together with grenades and even toxic smokes. For example, a recipe in the Wu Ch I n g T sung Yao dated 1044 describes a mixture, containing sulfur, saltpeter, arsenic salts, lead salts, oils and waxes to give a toxic incendiary that could be launched from a catapult.

More peaceful uses of these crude articles appeared in the form of firecrackers-the first fireworks? One mixture corresponded quite closely to modern gunpowder in that it contained saltpeter, sulfur and willow charcoal. The firecracker was said to consist of a loosely-filled small hole to accept a match or fuse.

Firework manufacture has a long history, but the development of the pyrotechnic art has been remarkably slow. The Chinese may have made fireworks of sorts over a thousand years ago; displays have been fired popularity, now worldwide, seems undiminished. Nevertheless, basically, firework displays have changed little over the centuries, with rockets, shells and roman candles, in various forms, remaining the main display components.

It is probable that first gunpowder was formed when, quite by chance, charcoal, saltpeter and s u l p h u r were brought together. Traditionally, the Chinese are credited with the discovery at a time well before historical records. Certainly the evidence suggests that gunpowder originated in the east.

The Chinese, however, had employed pyrotechnic mixtures long before this date. Ancient manuscripts describe explosive bombs, which were fired from giant catapults, and burst on landing or in the air. Similar missiles were merely dropped on the enemy from fortress walls. Firecrackers were often in early times, just as they are now, to scare away evil spirits from wedding and birth celebrations and from funerals, and they were also much in evidence at various religious festivals. These crackers were often made by packing gunpowder in to bamboo cases or rolled paper tube, so laying the foundations of modem firework manufacture. They exploded when thrown on to the fire, hence the origin of the name “firecracker”.

 In Europe, pyrotechnics for military purposes saw an early peak of achievement in the form of Greek fire. Old manuscripts suggest several ways of attempting to combat the fire, especially the application of wine, vinegar, sand and even urine.

Firework displays were seldom seen in England before the end of the sixteenth century. Shakespeare refers to “fireworks” on several occasions in his plays, suggesting that the term was in general usage in England in Tudor times. Other literature of the head often mentions the “green man” whose function was to walk at the head of processions carrying “fire clubs” and scattering “fireworks”(in this case probably meaning sparks)to clear the way. The origin of this character and his title are a mystery, but we are told that he was usually made up to appear very ugly, and he certainly survived well into the following century.

The earliest record of a firework display in England was in 1572, when a large show was put on at Warwick castle to mark the visit of queen Elizabeth I .

In 1690,peter, the great of Russia, put on a five-hour display to  celebrate the birth of his son.

In the U.S.A., the state fairs usually boast expensive shows; the spectacular “state fairs” usually boast expensive shows; the spectacular “setting the Rhine on fire” shows are frequent entries in the calendars of moog and other German manufacturers; the French resorts regularly entertain their visitors with displays; and in Italy and Spain numerous religious festivals have been celebrated with fireworks for centuries.

Considerable opposition has been directed against the sale of fireworks, or even their manufacture, in almost every country where they are made. Certainly in the U.S.A. and the European union, governments have often reacted vigorously, and sometimes with almost hysterical haste, in response to campaigns for greater control. In the united states, different legislation applies in the separate states. Some administration ban the sale of all types of firework, while others allow only “safe and sane” types, which include flares, candles, fountains, wheels, sparklers, etc., but not those with explosive elements.

Firework manufacture is an art, but for the manufacturing companies it is also a business. As such, it faces the multitude of problems which confront all other businesses in the modern, competitive commercial world. Above all, the work must show a profit, and with rising costs of materials and transport, increasing wage bills, higher insurance premiums, the escalating costs, expenses of various overheads, the expensive safety regulations imposed by the authorities.

Fireworks were introduced to the united states by immigrants.                                          

In the nineteenth century, many American manufacturers were branches of European companies. The earliest known manufacturer of fireworks for pleasure in the U.S.A. was the Du Pont family near Wilmington, Delaware in 1809. the business thrived until the 1940s and continued to supply powder for the industry until the 1970s.

China is usually considered the birthplace of black powder and firework making. Hundreds of factories supplied material for displays celebrating religious festivals and public events, marriages and funerals. Recent political changes in china have meant that many manufacturers are now allowed to invest private capital and trade unhindered across the world. Certainly, china leads the world in the volume of production and export. A large number of small companies, especially in Guangdong, Guangxi, Hunan, Jiangxi and Hebe provinces, feed the large exporters and display companies, which operate under such group titles as temple of heaven of Beijing or red lantern, and brand names like sunny, Vulcan and an ping.   

A large percentage of the fireworks produced in Japan used to be exported, but this is no longer the case; the bulk of them are used internally. This is because they require so much expensive hand labor that the finished products are very costly.