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.

Gunpowder History

October 19, 2010

  The Chinese consider that the properties of gunpowder were discovered during the period 475-221 BC with the rise of interest in alchemy and the urge to perfect the making of both gold and the elixir of life. During the Han Dynasty (206 BC) alchemy became increasingly popular, but precise details of the origins of gunpowder are not clear because this was not what the alchemists were primarily looking for.

   By the 4th century AD the search for the elusive elixir was still active. Saltpeter was still the main ingredient, but as the experiments could be somewhat explosive, aqueous methods were also mixtures such as saltpeter ,resin and hog intestines; it was found that under some conditions the mixture could be quite explosive.

  The first serious formulations for gunpowder as know it seem to stem from writings about AD808 when sulfur and charcoal have clearly entered the trials though the object was not necessarily to produce explosions so much as to subdue them. It was reported that mixtures of saltpeter, sulfur, raga and honey created fires which burnt hands, faces and houses. The addition of charcoal to hot mixtures of saltpeter and sulfur would certainly have been inflammatory!

  It has always been stated that the origins of black powder are Chinese and much of the evidence has been found in books printed in the west . We are happily in the position now to have more authentic evidence from a document forwarded by professor Fe n g Chang gen of the Beijing institute of the authors of the paper” The Origin and Development of Ancient Gunpowder” were Yang s h u o and Ding Jing(42).

  Black powder is described as” a bright pearl in the ancient Chinese civilization” with its three components being known from the earliest of times.

  Charcoal was already used at the Bronze Age in China and recognized as fuel for the reduction of metal ores.

  Sulfur was recorded in the 6th century BC and in other documents it was regarded as remarkable for its ability to dissolve metals like gold , silver ,copper and iron. It is also featured in medicine.

  There is considerable evidence of the existence and knowledge of Saltpeter . Once again, its reactivity with metals its use in medicine in the elixir of life recipe established its importance in these times.

  In later times, the Arabs called saltpeter “Chinese snow” and the Persians called it “Chinese salt”.

  There is no doubt that this proto gunpowder can burn well and produce quite a quantity of gas.

  While there have been several writings concerning the use of gunpowder and weapons in India and Muslim countries, p r of . f eng  j I a s h eng , an authority on the study of gunpowder, is of opinion that the origins are with china. it is possible that by 1225,gunpowder techniques were transmitted from china via India to the muslin countries. later on. the Arabs then transmitted gunpowder to Spain. by the middle of the 16 t h century it was transmitted to Europe. It is suggested that roger bacon discovered gunpowder through translations of Arab books.

  Early the Chinese formulations recorded in 1044 work out at approximately saltpeter 60%,sulfur 30%,charcoal 10%,but formulations includes sesame fibred, bamboo fibred, arsenic, lead salts, oils, and resins. the assumption is that the organic materials would need to be carbonized. The addition of lead and arsenic compounds may suggest a poisonous smoke of military nature.

Fireworks News

April 23, 2010

Yesterday evening, I read the news that liuyang’s fireworks will display on Shanghai World Expo. As a liuyang fireworks man, I really feel very proud. Wish fireworks show will success. And best regards for Shanghai World Expo. Fireworks were first developed in ancient China. It’s a big part of people’s celebration. So I think that fireworks will be one of the most beautiful scenery of Shanghai World Expo.

Best regards for yushu!

April 22, 2010

Yushu , come on. All of us will support you.  Wish yushu will have a better future.

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July 13, 2009

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